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Photography Tutorial: Creative Composition in Colder Months

Can you creatively compose nature photographs during winter months like February in Colorado? Of course you can! Keep these three concepts in mind when you begin creative composition in colder months for a scene you would like to photograph in an artistic way.

  1. Identify unique shapes that engage the eye
  2. Capture tactile textures which provoke interest
  3. Question indescribable abstractions to heighten imagination

Developing these techniques will allow you to have more fun photographing ice and snow and can be applied to summer scenes as well!

The images are shown in black and white to emphasize the characteristics being discussed. With the right type of photograph, using your favorite photo editor to convert it to black and white can underscore the elements of shape and texture and enhance the abstractions. We’ll be focusing on aspects of composition in this post. Let’s get started!

Unique Shapes

Creative Composition in Colder Months

In our youth, a Crayola in one small hand drew squares, circles, and triangles. Shapes in nature are much more advanced, similar to today’s cameras versus those good old crayons. It’s fun to discover new shapes in snow when visiting familiar landscapes.

Given the context of nature and scenic photography, the shape of something can be defined as the outer form or visible characteristic. When looking at the image above, how many different shapes can you identify?

Shapes we see include:

  1. Triangle – the point of snow in the middle-ground
  2. Arc – the edge of the ice and snow below the triangle
  3. Wave – the curve of the snow in the upper-left of the image
  4. Bird’s head – below the wave the light and shadows create a visible characteristic of the head of a bird

Take another look at the image below if you had trouble finding any of the four shapes.

Creative Composition in Colder Months

The variety and uniqueness of shapes makes this a well-composed image. We like to recommend looking at a photograph for 20 seconds. Feel your eyes walk around the picture. If your eyes move over the shapes for a length of time that feels good to you, that’s a photograph you like and is well-composed!

Setting your camera to capture shapes in snow with direct sunlight can be challenging to say the least. If you need some help getting the right approach down, consider taking our Capturing Nature and Scenic Photography class.

Tactile Textures

Creative Composition in Colder Months

Textures in nature can evoke many different emotions depending on appearance and setting. These associations will provoke the viewer’s interest in a photograph.

Given the image for this example, can you come up with another surface that has a similar texture to the windblown snow?

A fun association a student described to us is the snow being like icing on a cake. The wavy diagonal lines and layers reminded her of spreading icing with a spatula and the delight in that activity. If you see such a texture that captures your eye during the winter months and makes you say “Oh, doesn’t that look like so-and-so” then a fun photograph awaits!

Creative Composition in Colder Months – Indescribable Abstracts

Creative Composition in Colder Months - Abstract

“What is that?  How does is do that?”  These are questions of awe that remind us of nature’s majesty. When asking yourself these questions, recognize you’re seeing an amazing abstraction.

An abstraction is free of representational qualities. In the two previous examples, the viewer can see a landscape with snow, trees, and other definable items. With this example, the viewer may not know what is being represented.

One may imagine the circular shapes and then wonder “How were these created?” If you’ve cast a curious eye outdoors during the colder months you’ve seen some indescribable things. It turns out these circles are actually air bubbles frozen in ice while rising, which is a unique and special sight in winter!

If you’re wondering whether your camera and lens can capture such a close-up image, check out our previous blog post: Beginning Photographer’s: Simple Dof Calculator App.

Creative Composition in Colder Months – Embrace Your Creativity

You can see winter landscapes through creative eyes by developing your artistic techniques. Stare at shapes that are one-of-a-kind. Touch a texture that reminds you of something with a similar feel. Ask questions when you wonder about even the smallest of things. Follow these actions with the creation of a well-composed photograph!

Why not tap into your creative side when you’re heading out to capture winter landscapes? With these techniques, you’ll find there are more and more amazing things to take pictures of year-round and you’ll enjoy sharing them with others. You certainly can do it, and, as is commonly said, you just might like it!

Need more help mastering these concepts? Register for one of our Digital Photography courses today!