On foot, by bicycle, hitch-hiking, by bus: a traveller has no fear of the weather and will travel in any season. Every time of year has different features and peculiarities that help to make the place you are visiting unique.
In order to capture the peculiarities of each season through your camera lens, you need to study carefully how to highlight what it is that truly makes that particular time of year special.
When you choose your travel destination and time of year in which to go there, it is essential to find out about the most spectacular places to visit, the times of dawn and sundown at that time of year, the exposure of a particular site…
Once you have decided on the unmissable places to visit, you should turn up well-prepared:
- check your tripod, mount and remote shutter release, which will be essential for that perfect moment;
- take with you polarisers and other filters that may be useful whilst travelling (an ND or GND filter, for example);
- pack a spare battery to use in emergencies, especially if you are travelling in a very cold country.
Spring is the season of rebirth, when Mother Nature, sleeping under a thick blanket of snow, feels the warmth of the sun and slowly awakes. Spring is the season of blossoming and colour, but also of the sudden rainfall of April showers and of grey, dramatic skies. In order to capture the springtime peculiarities, you can go for classic subjects, such as trees covered in new foliage and flowers (the Castelluccio Plain, the tulip fields in Holland, the Valley of Roses in Morocco…) or you can look for more sought-after leading players; real symbols of springtime. One example could be a flock of migrating birds outlined in the stormy sky over the delta of the River Po.
This is also the best time of year to travel to hot places, such as North Africa or Central America.
Experiment with macro lenses that highlight certain details of spring, or wide-angle lenses with a narrow aperture to photograph landscapes in bloom as far as the eye can see. If the sky threatens rain but improvement has been forecast, be patient and wait: the light often becomes magical at these times and, if you are lucky, you will see a rainbow or two.
In our hemisphere, summer is the season with the longest, and usually hottest, days. The sun rises very early whilst sundown may, in places such as Northern Scandinavia, never arrive in June and July (the midnight sun phenomenon). Summer is also a time of golden fields of ears of wheat, short sleeves at musical events and vegetable gardens filled with all types of produce; but it is also a time for outdoor activities high up on the mountains. There are many ways to photograph the summer but the most interesting is using the HDR technique: creating the same image with different exposures and then combining them to recover shadows and highlights, which are very pronounced at this time of year. The result? See for yourselves!
In the summer, you can take advantage of the light in the hours closest to sundown, which creates long and photogenic shadows. Where is the best destination for summer travelling? Northern Europe, Canada, Patagonia and the high peaks of the Himalayas.
Autumn is the season of skies dotted with white puffs of cloud after the rain, of colourful woodland, mushrooms and the early snow-capped mountains. At this time of year, it is fun to play with reflections on lakes or in puddles after a storm. To bring the colours even more to life, especially the blue of the sky, I recommend using a polariser, which also helps to get rid of any nuisance reflections from the frame at certain times of the day. In autumn, the fields and bare mountainsides are yellowed by the first frosts: this is why the best idea is to identify a subject that completely stands out from the scenery. One classic example for this season could be a deer, which experiences its mating period in autumn. To photograph this animal, you will often need to use a telephoto lens, tripod and a lot of patience. The ideal destinations in this season are Canada and the Apennines whilst the leaves are falling, or countries that are too hot in the summer.
Winter is the season of snow, ice formations, skis and bare, skeletal trees. When I travel in winter, I like to look for evocative locations in which to take night-time shots. On moonless nights, when the stars are a traveller’s sole point of reference, aim your lens north, locate the North Star, set your focus to infinity and use remote shutter release for a long exposure of around half an hour… If the result appears underexposed or, conversely, overexposed, try again using different apertures, exposure times and ISO values.
Another characteristic feature of winter is the snow, whose forms are shaped by the hands of the wind. Sometimes, a snowy landscape can be a bit monotonous but, if you manage to find a star subject (a tree, a person walking, an ice formation) to feature in your snowy scene, the photo will definitely be more interesting. When you shoot in snow, always be careful about excess light, especially when the frame includes an area of highly contrasting shadow.
Leo and Vero
Leo and Vero are two tireless travellers who love to discover the world by bicycle. After ten months cycling through Southeast Asia, they returned to Italy, but still dedicate their every spare moment to cycling, travelling and photography. They have travelled far and wide but are convinced that the best journey is always the one they have yet to make… “Because travelling is to remember the past, live the present and dream of the future.”
Twitter: @viaggioinbici @lifeintravelita
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