They say around here, “If you don’t like the weather in Iowa, just wait ’til tomorrow – it’ll be different!”
We had a fine group of photographers come together Saturday for our “The Midwest Winter Landscape” photography workshop, in Des Moines, Iowa. It was a dedicated group of hardy souls, and wow, did we experience a wide array of weather. Forget waiting “’til tomorrow” as the saying goes – we experienced an entire winter season just in one day.
Starting with single-digit temps in pre-dawn light, we met at 6:30am to be able to be set up before sunrise. With a group ranging from beginner to advanced photographers, we alternated between instructional gatherings and shooting in the morning. We enjoyed a…shall I say….”fleeting”…sunrise? If 90 seconds of beautifully red-glowing clouds in the Eastern sky during a steel-grey overcast morning represents sunrise, then yes it was fleeting. But if you weren’t paying close attention, it would have been easy to miss altogether. With snow forecast for mid-morning, we were focused on contrasty landscape images of some beautiful trees in the prairie.
Right on schedule as forecast, the sky broke and we were hit by a (beautiful!) wet, driving snow for an hour or so. While it was tempting to stay in our warm vehicles, almost all of the participants braved the driving snow to capture some beautiful wild riverfront-in-snowfall images, using slow shutter speeds to emphasize the hard-falling snow. Reviewing some participant photos later, there were some very fine images captured during this part of the workshop.
Retreating to a warm coffeeshop – with only one photographer putting her car in the ditch on the way (thanks again to those of you who successfully pushed her out!) – we enjoyed a few hours in a meeting room, mid-morning through the lunch hour, for a few hours of discussion-style instructional content. The group asked lots of fabulous questions. While there, the snow outside stopped, the sun came out, and the temps rose by twenty or more degrees. By the time we were ready to head back out mid-afternoon, it was a warm, glorious afternoon.
Heading to another favorite location outside town, we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon in a lovely pine forest, shooting some serene scenics and enjoying fun techniques such as camera-shake and zoom-blur action. By late-afternoon the light was a mellow golden hue, giving the group great opportunity to capture hillocks of fresh, glistening snow, prairie grasses glistening with fresh powder, and beautiful areas at the prairie’s edge.
With ten minutes remaining until sunset, another front moved through and our hopes for a beautiful sunset images were dashed. More steel-grey sky. But everyone left with a solid collection of images, and I had a great time working with this great group of photographers. I hope you all who came out for this event had as much fun shooting as I did working with you!