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A guide to what to photography in January

A guide to what to photography in January - Jason Smalley shares his wildlife knowledge and gives us a round up of things to shoot in January.

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Animals / Wildlife

In our new series, wildlife expert, Jason Smalley, suggests what to shoot in January and gives us tips on getting better shots.

Hoar Frost
Of course, the weather is big in January, providing it’s not just dull and grey of course! Take advantage of the freezing temperatures by keeping a close eye on the weather forecasts and aim to be out early on bright frosty days. If it’s been at all misty during the previous evening there’s a good chance of hoar frost. This enchanting display of ice crystals on any cold surface will entertain any creative photographer for hours, but it can be a relatively rare event. Try using strong side lighting to enhance the structure of the large crystals, watch for wildlife too, birds can often be found cruching the crystals!
A guide to what to photography in January

Drifted Snow
On open moorland where winter winds rage, fine powdery snow will spin and drift into interesting patterns. Once again the quality of light is important, light and shade can be the only way to make the fine snow sculptures show in camera. Shoot from above, or get in close to exclude any extraneous matter and make huge landscape shots from the smallest macro scene. When approaching clean snow be aware of your footprints. Once you have wandered across a virgin snow field it is forever desecrated!
A guide to what to photography in January

Frosted Vegetation
Twigs, dead stems, even hardy leaves will have an icy edge to them on good January days. Get in close, use a reflector to fill in the shadows if the light is too contrasty, backlight with the sun and bounce some rays back with a sheet of white paper for the best effect. Remember not to breathe! The slightest hint of warmth or moisture will reduce the frost to clear droplets of water.
A guide to what to photography in January

Garden Birds
As you will have been feeding the birds in your garden or countryside for several weeks now, try setting up a remotely released camera and then retiring to the warmth of your car or home. Make sure they become accustomed to the kit before firing the shutter and if they flee wait a while before trying again. The birds will have no problem with a camera on a tripod after a few short minutes. Watch your backgrounds. It’s all too easy to focus your camera on a bird table whilst forgetting to leave out the old shed a few yards behind.
A guide to what to photography in January

Winter Swans
Wildfowl and Wetland Trust reserves around the country play host to thousands of wild swans that visit our shores to escape the arctic winter. Visit their website at www.wwt.org.uk/ to find your nearest location. The spectacle of winter white is one worth every effort to simply witness let alone photograph. If opportunity affords try to visit on dull days as well, it may prove easier to manage the contrast of brilliant white against dark blue waters. The swans are usually fed late in the afternoon, this is the time to shoot large flocks or closely cropped compositions.


Winter Woodlands
Dark damp woods take on a new personality in the bare months of winter. January is the quietest time to visit. Seek out form and sculpture amongst the tangle of trunks, search for signs of new life. Lichens and mosses thrive now so get down low and close to capture them at their best.

A guide to what to photography in January

The Beach
Throngs of holiday makers give way to flights of wading birds and fascinating strandlines when the winter cloaks our coastline.
Choose really cold days, preferably after a high tide and stormy weather to capitalize on the possibilities. Be constantly aware of your environment, sand and salt can destroy your camera kit, tides and soft sands can do you no end of harm! Keep a keen eye on the land between you and the safety of higher ground as you work. Tides race in quickly on the best photographic days and being cut off and having to wade through chest deep water in January is no fun, trust me!
A guide to what to photography in January

Out and about
The National Trust has several countryside events planned for the month, including guided walks. Check out their website for more details. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/thingstodo/events

The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust holds floodlit swan viewings and swan feedings at numerous reserves around the country.

If you fancy strolling round a garden with your camera in hand it may be worthwhile seeing if any of the Royal Horticultural Society events are of interest. www.rhs.org.uk/rhseventfinder/eventfinder.asp

Ever fancy photographing a straw bear?
www.strawbear.org.uk/Festival%202004.htm will guide you!

London Boat Show takes place on the 8th to 18th of January.
www.londonboatshow.net/ for more information.

About the author
Jason Smalley has worked as a professional photographer for the past fifteen years, specialising in nature, countryside and the garden. Over the past two years he has embraced digital technology, currently working with a Canon 1Ds. Clients include all the major countryside mags and book publishers. His website at www.jasonsmalley.com showcases his work and outlines events and workshops planned for 2010.

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