All of the seasons throughout the year provide their own unique challenges when it comes to photography and learning to master the ever changing conditions is something that comes with time and through experience. Winter can at times be difficult as it can constantly seem as though you are battling against the cold and colourless conditions that often accompany this time of year. So if you are feeling a little uninspired right now and are struggling with creativity, or maybe you are new to photography and are looking for some ideas, then hopefully these seven tips for winter photography can help you along your way.
1)There is no such thing as bad weather conditions
Rain, sleet, wind, snow, all of these conditions add a different element to your photographs that you don’t often get during the warmer months. So instead of looking upon these conditions as a disadvantage, turn it around and use it to your advantage by creating something a little different and interesting. When faced with rain, try and capture those colourful reflections and the chaos that it creates, whilst a little snow can make for that beautiful, winter wonderland feel. One of the major advantages when the weather becomes overcast is the consistency that it creates in the lighting. This means that you don’t have to be overly concerned with harsh shadows and overblown highlights like you would on a bright, clear day allowing for a little more freedom and room to manoeuvre when shooting. Something worth remembering for when you are out amongst the snow is that your camera will get confused due to the harsh, white, brightness of the surroundings and as a result will try to compensate for this by often rendering your images a blue/grey colour. To alleviate this problem you might want to adjust the white balance in the cameras settings and overexpose your photographs ever so slightly.
2)Add a colourful or interesting subject
At times during those colder months it can seem as though everything looks a little gloomy and sparse. The weather during winter, especially here in the UK can seem like it is permanently overcast and damp, making photography sometimes a little more difficult if you are struggling for ideas and creativity. This is when trying to add a subject to the frame can be extremely beneficial to your photograph and can help bring it to life. Waiting for something interesting, or by adding a little colour can often provide that little seasoning to an otherwise uninteresting photograph. You might need to be patient when waiting for a subject and try make sure that you explore your potential frame from all sides and angles to see if you are capturing the best perspective possibly.
Sometimes less is more! Use that winter sparseness to highlight and add an empty to feel to your photographs. Minimal photography can add a striking element that captures your focus by really drawing you in to the photograph. You have to be able to work with what is available to you, so be creative by trying to capture and portray the mood of you surroundings.
4)Shoot at night
Shorter days mean longer evenings, so why not use that to your advantage. Night photography is also a great way of manoeuvring around the bleak weather, so if you are struggling with overcast and generally blander conditions, then night photography automatically alleviates that problem for you. Look for lights that will help you expose your photograph without having to pump up the iso too high, whilst cityscapes and long exposures can help to add a little colour to your photographs. You don’t have to live in a big city either, if you live in a small town or village look for street lights and signs to help add some light to your work. I believe one of the key aspects to good night photography is to keep photographs on the darker side. Now this might seem a little obvious and a rather silly statement to make, but it can be easy to try and lift the light on your camera too much, creating unwanted noise and poor quality images. Keep it dark and portray the mystique that night time brings and allow that to filter through in your photographs and the story that you are trying to tell.
5)Take advantage of sunrise and sunset
Although colourful sunrises and sunsets are a little more scarce than in the warmer months, make sure you are up and ready when they do arrive, as it is a fantastic way of adding a little warmth to your images. They tend to be very striking and vibrant during the colder months, especially after a heavy downpour or snow storm where you can get some really rich colours to compliment those cooler tones.
6)Use the cooler tones to your advantage and add layers
One of the great things about winter photography is the moodiness that you can create in photographs. Accentuate those darker, cooler tones whilst creating a little mystery and a Gotham City like feel to your work. Try adding layers if you want to create a little more interest around what is happening in the frame, whilst factoring in an interesting backdrop and mid-ground to compliment what is happening in the foreground will help with the story telling aspect of your photography and can also help to add a little colour if you feel as though that is what the photograph might be missing. Layering is a great way to visually explain what is playing out in the frame, whilst it also helps to add a little extra dynamic to the story and bring it to life.
7)Wrap up warm and protect your equipment
Make sure that you wear plenty of layers and wrap up warm when you are out with your camera. It is important to protect yourself and your camera equipment from the harsh elements as the last thing that you want is to be cold and uncomfortable through poor clothing choices, or for your equipment to get damaged through the weather. It’s always a good idea to have a waterproof backpack or camera bag, if not make sure that you have a protective cover to keep it dry whilst a waterproof cover for your camera is also a wise idea. Carrying an umbrella can be extremely helpful as it will help protect you and your equipment from harsh weather, whilst you might also want to give some extra thought into carrying extra batteries with you as the cold weather drains your battery life a lot quicker than it would in warmer conditions.
So those are my seven tips for winter photography. Do you enjoy winter photography? What is your favourite time of year for photography? let me know in the comments below
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