Black (& White) Friday: Winged Migration

winged migration


Once again, we have reached the time of year when our winged friends leave us for the next several months. Autumn is always a bitter sweet time of year because it brings two things. It brings us true beauty in the colours of the changing leaves, and gorgeous soft light; and it brings us that much closer to old man winter.

I had always loved winter growing up, but since living in Toronto I have lost the taste for the cold, the damp, and the slush that winter tends to be in that city. But this year I am looking forward to winter once again, because Ottawa is such a lovely winter city with it’s skating on the Canal; the winter carnival, called Winterlude; and the close proximity to cross country and downhill skiing.

Now, I just have to figure out how to take photos in the blinding snow.



  1. Sounds like you will have fun photographing this winter. I live in Atlanta so we do not get all the snow as you would in the north. Hope you can get food photographs in the snow. They can look like paintings

  2. I must admit, this image is one of the more emotional I have seen from you. There is a sadness that is coming across for me. It is very striking. Could be that I am just going through too much at the moment! Looking forward to seeing the snowy scenes of Ottawa through your lens, love the change of seasons.

    1. Hey Carrie, it’s funny you mention the emotion of the image because I got the same feeling after seeing the final processed image. Perhaps, I had those emotions inside while I was editing, and they subconsciously made their way into the image.

      Hope all is well out your way. Have a great day πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Laura, as someone who shares a lot of bird photos, I appreciate the comment. I think the kids help to create the excitement for winter. It slowed a little on Saturday morning and they were beside themselves with excitement… it was cute to see.

      1. You’re welcome πŸ™‚ Sounds like you have a wonderful family! They will have so much fun in the snow. (This coming from someone who has been in the snow just a handful of times.)

      2. We do have a pretty good little unit here. I plan to make a rink in the back yard so the boys can skate till they pass out.

        Oddly enough, I’ve only been in perfect weather like you have a handful of times πŸ™‚

  3. That is just the most magnificent shot I’ve seen in a long time my friend… absolutely stunning! You really do have a gift for this πŸ™‚

    And please stop scaring me about Canadian winter, I’m not far off my visit now hehehe

    1. Thanks so much Jess! You made with that little note.

      What are your travel dates? Don’t worry, it depends on where you’re visiting. Though Ottawa is only four hours away from Toronto, it gets much colder here. Our Rockey Mountains in the west get really cold and lots of snow too. Just depends on where you go.

  4. One thing that I have learned with photographing in the snow is that it can make for some interesting photos. Cloudy days are best when you don’t want the snow so overpowering as the clouds do a great job and diffusing the sun so there’s less reflection. This past summer I have learned how to work with the brightness of the daylight and the shadow areas of other objects in order to create better photographic art. I’m going to be applying some of that this winter to hopefully have more success for some sunny day winter photos this winter.

    A little off topic but something that may be worth learning. I used to think that photos need to have perfect or near perfect exposure where you don’t have any over exposed or under exposed areas in your photos. I have since learned that in order to create more dramatic effect in your photo it actually works better if you do have over and under exposed areas but to have an element that sticks out even if it is over or under exposed. Some advice would be to work with what nature gives you in order to create something out of it rather than trying to work against it to try and get what you want. Not sure if that makes sense with the wording but an example would be if you set out to get a particular shot and are not able to get it due to the lighting not working to get a good exposure, then try and think of a different approach to get an interesting shot with the lighting that’s available. Since I’ve started thinking about this I tend to get more shots that I’m happy with and sometimes I’m impressed with what I do get.

    The reason why I think like this? I think it’s because I see too many “perfectly” exposed photos and I’m always about changing things up a bit to step out of the norm and try something different. I’ve also moved more towards creating more photographic art than just normal landscape shots. In any case I can’t wait to see what shots you bring us from your area this winter!

    1. Justin, these are such great comments! I agree 100% about overcast days being excellent shooting opportunities. So many of the images you may have seen on my blog have been far from perfectly exposed, but through the editing process, I’ve learned what I can get from a scene by shooting in RAW. It doesn’t work every time, but I think it helps create drama by sometimes having over-emphasized highlights and shadows.

      I remember reading somewhere that great photographers like Richard Avedon and Yousuf Karsh pay more attention to shadows and how they fall than any other part of the exposure quotient. It’s a very interesting approach, and obviously worked quite well for them.

      1. Was searching through the wonderful world of the web and stumbled upon this article and thought about this post of yours. Decided I might pass it on to you in case you wanted to try to work with snow a bit more with a different approach. I tend to like the articles that this photographer puts out as well because he tends to do a lot of photography that I’m interested in. If anything I hope you are able to get a few ideas from the post. I plan on doing my first winter shots next weekend during our Thanksgiving break. Snows on the ground and more is on the way so hopefully there’ll be some clouds to work with, but not too many as I want to try some high contrast B&W long exposures working with the snow, clouds, and some sort of darker subjects.

  5. Shane, v-formations of geese are, to me, among the most beautiful sky art there is. I absolutely adore this photo, even more so because the “v” is a bit wonky! I like to think of the one out of formation as being the rebel of the group, and I kinda like that πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for shooting and sharing this. It can hear them honking and it just makes me smile.

    As for shooting in snow, well, I”m looking forward to the challenge. I’ve taken a short class on zone metering, where I’ve learned to (1) use spot metering, (2) expose for the mid-tones, and (3) check the highlights to make certain they aren’t blown out. But if there are NO midtones in the image (ie snow), set exposure for +2 and everything else will fall into place and the snow will be white. (Conversely, with a very, very dark scene, set the exposure to -2. Well, at least that’s the theory πŸ˜‰

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