Winner of our January Photo Challenge – “Capturing Winter”

The great photos just keep on coming!  Once again, thrilled to see the creativity and quality of the photos you are all submitting.  There were more show stopping photos in this photo challenge, but one stood out as a truly mesmerizing scene and embodied winter in a stunning way.

The winner of this Capturing Winter photo challenge is Douglas Croft with a gorgeous capture of Yosemite National Park after a fresh snowfall — titled Gates of the Valley And as an added bonus, this is our first winner that has shot in black & white!  Ansel Adams would be VERY proud of this one.

The great thing about black & white photography is that it emphasizes contrast…which is an excellent tool for photographing in winter.  With the pillowy snow in the foreground and dark, patterned trees and rocks in the background, it’s a wonderful contrast in both colors and textures.  What’s more is that the sky begins to take a lovely prominence here, too, with that great patch of clear sky right in the middle of the valley.

All in all, the composition and elements within the photo are spot on.  It’s as if the snow covered rocks in the foreground are reaching up to the valley, and then greeted by the clearing sky.  Lots to think about!  And look at how great the “rule of thirds” grid overlays — immaculate composition.

Gates of the Valley, by Douglas Croft. f/6.3, 1/800th of a second, ISO 100

The settings that Douglas used are spot on, too.  With decent light available to him, he was able to set an ISO of 100, which minimizes grain and “noise” in the photo.  This is essential for black & white photography, as the grain will really show up in the contrast of the photo at high ISOs.  An aperture of f/6.3 allows for a good depth of field, and a shutter speed of 1/800th of a second allows for a freezing of all motion, whether it be hand shake, water ripples or fast moving clouds.

Again, excellent use of landscape elements to compose the shot, with an interesting foreground and background that does Yosemite Valley justice!  And as the first black & white photo winner, we know that Ansel Adams would be as proud of this shot as we are, and you should be, Douglas!  Congrats again on the great work!!

As always, thanks to everyone who submitted for this photo challenge.  The talent out there continues to blow me away and it’s a pleasure to see your stuff!  Keep the great photos coming…

Stay tuned for next month’s photo challenge!

All the best,