Find Beauty in Landscapes In-Between Seasons

Apr 28, 2020

Sometimes, it can be challenging to photograph landscape images in-between seasons. Melting snow can be dirty, leafless trees aren't always that attractive, and the leftover muck from winter's freeze can be an eyesore. It's your job as a landscape photographer to find and photograph the beauty that is present regardless of the time of year. There are a few ways in which you can hide or minimize unsightly in-between season elements.

1. Compose thoughtfully

Knowing what to include and exclude within a landscape scene is an important skill to have as a landscape photographer. Thoughtfully compose your scene to eliminate elements that are not overly attractive during the shoulder seasons. Ensure that your main subject is highly visible, as this will draw the viewer's eye, minimizing less attractive features within the frame. Pay close attention to the edges and close objects within your frame. Crop out elements that are not as attractive around your frame edges with your choice in focal length. Also, try and compose so that less attractive details are farther off in the distance. This will minimize their presence within the frame.

ISO 31, 16mm, f13, 60sec

2. Look for foreground elements that are unaffected by seasonal changes

One of the biggest challenges I have during the shoulder season change from winter are footprints in dirt-covered snow. Without a fresh dusting of snow, foot traffic and dirt can be very obvious in the scenes I'd like to photograph. I could spend a significant amount of time cloning in post-processing or I can choose to look for and compose my image in a way that excludes or minimizes unattractive elements. In less than ideal situations, I like to look to include foreground elements that are unaffected by seasonal changes and showcase those elements while minimizing less attractive elements. Rocks and flowing rivers or water are great features that are often unaffected or are still attractive during those in-between seasons. 

ISO 1000, 19mm, f4, 20sec

3. Incorporate seasonal changes 

Seasonal changes like melting, cracking or heaving ice can be incredibly beautiful. You might need to walk around some and explore how you can use seasonal elements within your images, but it's well worth the effort. Look for cracks and use these as leading lines into your frame. Look for areas of thin ice, as it reflects light beautifully. Frost flowers can form into ice, so keep an eye out for these beautiful details. Don't be afraid to get down low in your frame to capture the beautiful details that seasonal changes can offer.

ISO 100, 35mm, f14, 1/30sec 

4. Capture a scene at night

Night photography often offers the unique opportunity of minimizing or hiding elements that were not all that attractive during the day. The low light of night photography allows for what could have been unsightly to hide away within the shadows and darkness of the night while other more attractive elements like mounds of snow sparkle under a stary night sky.

ISO 2000, 14mm, f4, 15sec

5. Use a telephoto lens

Telephoto lenses are fantastic for focusing in on details. It's easy to zoom in on details and crop out extraneous elements with a telephoto. Don't be afraid to isolate details within an image. Hiding some of those unwanted in-between season elements can be simple with a telephoto lens.

ISO 1000, 130mm, f8, 1/250SS

There's beauty in a landscape scene at all times of the year. It might take a little more effort and thought when capturing a landscape image in-between seasons, but I think the effort put in will be well worth the reward of a thoughtfully captured scene.