January was an incredible month for our photo contest. Our Facebook timeline filled up with incredible snow-themed images. If you haven’t taken the time yet, head over to our Facebook page and select “Posts by Others” to see all the amazing entries. It was extremely difficult to choose a winner for this round, but the judges have finally weighed in. Congratulations to Ben Coffman for his spectacular nighttime image! Ben was kind enough to answer a few questions on his process, so read on to learn about how he made this great image.

Please tell us a little about yourself. What kind of photographer do you consider yourself?

My name is Ben Coffman, and I moved to the Portland area a little over 2 years ago from the Midwest. My renewed interest in photography coincided with my move to Oregon, which happens to be a very photogenic state.

Until about two months ago, I would’ve described myself as a highly dedicated weekend warrior: someone who got out and shot a lot on the weekends and did a bunch of reading about photography in books and on the Internet during the week. Two months ago I was laid off from my job of seven and a half years, so now I have just a bit more free time, and I’ve been trying to take advantage of it. It’s been fun to shift my focus and work really hard at something that I’m passionate about.

Tell us a little about the image and how you shot it: time of day, location, your plan, technique, gear used, etc.

“The sentries of the white city” was shot at Mirror Lake on Mt Hood on January 12th. Fellow photographer and friend Jack Crocker hiked back to the lake with me at sunset. We didn’t have snowshoes and we were anticipating that the trail would be pretty stomped down by everyone else, and it was, but we did a whole lot of post-holing when we got off the trail near the lake itself. And it was freezing—it was about 9 degrees on the mountain that night, and we didn’t finish shooting till around midnight.

The photo was taken with a Canon 6D and a 14mm Rokinon lens (f/4, 5000 ISO, 30-second exposure) about 3 hours after sunset.

This photo is a perfect example of the photography maxim “always look behind you.” I was really focused on Mt Hood and the lake in front of me and had been shooting basically in one direction, and I turned around and saw these two trees near the edge of the lake that were kind of book-ending the Milky Way. I didn’t even move my tripod, I just swiveled around and took the shot.

Tell us about the post production process for this image. What software did you use, what adjustments did you make (if any)?

I did the post-processing of this image in Lightroom 4. It was a fairly easy image to post process. I did a little dodging, but most of the work was with the white balance in the sky—specifically the light pollution coming from Portland, which was really difficult to tame. You can still see it along the horizon.

Where can people go to see more of your work?

People can see more of my work on my website (http://www.bencoffmanphotography.com/), and I’m also pretty active on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BenCoffmanPhotography), flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_coffman/), and 500px (http://500px.com/BenCoffman).

Thanks for your time!

Thank you so much for the monthly contests! Portland has some incredible photographers, amateur and pro alike, and I’ve really enjoyed checking out the entries.

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