Thinking about texture.

Patterns in the snow on Second Connecticut Lake in Pittsburg, NH.

Patterns in the snow on Second Connecticut Lake in Pittsburg, NH.

I’ve had a hard time getting motivated to post to this blog lately because I’m in the process of writing two books this winter, and it really is taking up every free minute of the day. However, with the recent snows here in New England, I’ve had a few chances to get out and shoot. One aspect of winter photography that seems to really resonate with photographers is the incredible textures found in fresh snow, wind blown snow, frozen snow, any kind of snow. I’ll be talking about this in detail in one of the books I’m writing (The AMC Guide to Digital Outdoor Photography,) but I thought I’d briefly discuss it here today. The texture of snow varies of course, but when photographed properly, the viewer feels like he or she can almost reach out and feel the individual snow crystals. When the snow is blown into ripples like in the above photo, the texture itself becomes an important compositional element.

Snowy field, Windsor, Massachusetts.

Snowy field, Windsor, Massachusetts.

The key to capturing texture of any kind is the light. Diffuse overcast light, like in the above shot, is so soft that almost none of the snow’s texture is visible. To really see those ripples and snow crystals like in the first photograph, you need direct sunlight. The low angle of the side lighting in the first photo casts long shadows across the snow, highlighting every nook and crannie in the snow’s surface.

Animal tracks traverse a snow-covered Ammonoosuc River at sunset.  White Mountains. Carroll, NH

Animal tracks traverse a snow-covered Ammonoosuc River at sunset. White Mountains. Carroll, NH

Backlight (like above) and side light seem to work best for enhancing the textures in snow, but any kind of direct sunlight will reveal more texture than flat, overcast light, so if texture is important, make sure the sun is out!

A couple of quick announcements:

It looks like my winter photography workshop in the White Mountains next month is sold out, but there’s plenty of space left for my spring, summer, and fall workshops.

Until next time….


6 Responses to “Thinking about texture.”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Teixeira, Jerry Monkman. Jerry Monkman said: Thinking about snow and texture: […]

  2. Andrew Nixon says:

    Hi Jerry,

    I enjoyed the post, nice images. In all honesty I’ve never really known what do with snow. It adds nice highlights to everything and gives a nice ‘winter look’ but beyond that I hadn’t considered the more intimate scenes and certainly not thought too much about the textures. I’m looking forward to the snow tomorrow so I can go out with a fresh pair of eyes.



  3. Jerry Monkman Jerry Monkman says:

    Thanks Andy! Enjoy the storm. The fresh snow should look great when the sun comes out later this afternoon.

  4. Paul Bellamy says:

    I stumbled upon your blog by accident while reseaching my novel, “The Last White Man.” Beautiful work…you can tell when a man passionately enjoys what he does. You have a great eye. I’, bookmarking your site so I can keep in touch. Thanks for sharing.


  5. Scott W says:

    I love the textures you can find in the snow. It is amazing how lighting plays such an important role in photography. Many people over look how lighting effects the details in their shot.

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