Wildlife photographer, Ian Andrews, shares some tips on what to shoot and where to shoot in January.
January can be one of the cruelest months of the year to photographers, but it can also be one of the kindest. Freezing temperatures can make it treacherous underfoot and on the roads. The comforting warmth of the central heating can have a very firm grip on the less dedicated. But with a little planning and forethought, the first month of the photographic year can be very rewarding.
Look for close up abstracts. Nikon CP4500 (Mike Taylor)
Get your kit ready the night before, right after you have checked the morning’s forecast. Clear frosty mornings hold the greatest rewards. Remember spare batteries, as they fail far quicker in the cold.
With the sun, when it shows itself, never very high in the sky, long shadows are the order of the day. It rises at it’s latest and sets at it’s earliest, and the hour just after the rise is comparable only with the hour before it sets. In the morning, the air is crisp and clean, giving the light an exceptional quality. Make use of the long shadows, but watch out for your own creeping into the picture.
Watch out for long shadows getting into the picture. Nikon Coolpix 4500 (Mike Taylor)
Frost and Snow
Look for patterns in the frost that can be isolated by going close and drifts in the snow where eddies of wind have carved unusual sculptures. Trees can take on an eerie quality early in the morning and should not be passed by as a subject. Groups or woodland edges with their trunks disappearing into the mist or single specimens standing stark against the winter backdrop can all make interesting pictures. Snow piled up on branches or on virtually anything else are another favourite.
Natural sculptures in the snow.
Nikon Coolpix 4500 (Mike Taylor)
Animals and Birds The winter months are hard on our wildlife. Shortage of food makes them bolder and the lack of tree foliage makes the birds easier to see, so now is the time to make the most of it. Garden feeders will attract many species that you would never see in the warmer months, but if you do feed birds in your garden, plan on continuing right through the winter and spring as the birds will come to rely on it. Mammals too will range further in search of sustenance and the cover will be thinner than in the lusher times. Signs of the mammals are also easier to see. Look for fresh droppings or footprints, especially in snow or frozen dew.
Sunrise and Sunset
With the low trajectory of the sun at this time of the year, sunrises and sunsets can and do last much longer than the few minutes of high summer. They will constantly change over as much as half an hour giving you far longer to get those stunning shots so it is well worth making the effort to get out there.
He’s behind you! A touch of seasonal humour. Minolta Z1
Project time January is also the best time to start any project that will last the year round. The classic one is to photograph a scene through the seasons. Now is the time to find that scene as a view that looks good now in the starkness of the winter will look stunning in the flush of spring through to the wonderful tones of autumn. Decide how often your subject should be recorded and make notes in that nice new diary to remind you.
A plant exactly as it was discovered on scrubland very recently. I will return regularly over the coming months to follow it’s progress. It has self seeded and in Britian it is classed as rare, although common in southern Europe . Sorry, no prizes for guessing! Sigma SD9 (Ian Andrews)
Now is the time to think ahead to next Christmas as well. No, I don’t mean the January sales, but next season’s Xmas greeting cards. Keep them in mind when you are out and about and see if you can get the shot that will adorn your personal cards for next winter. You could go for the classic holly in the snow type or perhaps look for something a little different with, for instance, a touch of humour.