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on Dec 5, 2013 in Wildlife Photography

-10 and Lovin It!

Alaskan Moose 2918

Yeap, that’s the outside temp right this moment at the office and I love it. And you guessed it, I’ve been tossing out the window boiling cups of water. Love that sound! But back to photography. This is a great time to be working with critters, especially big game and birds at a bird bath. Steam is a great source for interesting photographs. Steam can come from breath, hot springs or simply from a heated bird bath. You can photograph the breath like you see from the moose, or the collection of the steam on the critter like the Bison. When you see that breath or you see those frozen crystals on the fur, the viewer of the photo though in the warmth of their home, know it’s cold out and that’s the goal. But here’s the trick to this whole thing.

Bison 11557

Steam, be it a vapor or frozen (when than it’s ice), the only way you can see it is when it’s against something dark. And that’s the trick to some, basic staple to me. Backgrounds! Backgrounds are everything but even more so in this situation. For example, there are no photos from my bird baths here to illustrate my points. That’s because not until this summer, could the backgrounds around my bird bath be manipulated to be dark. They’ve always been white snow so I’m racing to get this posted and back behind the camera to see if my plans work. But you can look at the left side of the Bison photo to see what I’m talking about. The frozen hot spring steam almost disappears with the white snow background.

Some are thinking, “That’s too cold for me!” Here’s the trick for that. First, shoot from the inside of your home. Next, shoot from the inside of your vehicle (what I did with the Bison). Lastly, limit your time outside (what I did with the Moose). Figure out what you need for DoF, Exposure and everything else and set that in the warmth of the home / vehicle and then when you head outside, you can wear thick gloves so all you need to do is be able to depress the shutter. Keep in mind that you’re not going camping in the -10 (but that is fun too), you do have that warm interior to get back to so make the shot while you can. Well, gotta get back to my bird baths. Stay warm out there!

Oh yeah … remember that breath you’re trying to capture and how it turns to ice at these temps? DON’T breath on your camera’s eyepiece, you’ll have the same problem to the point you can’t see. I use the Nikon DK-17A Anti-Fog Eyepiece to help with this problem.