Winter Photography (Part I)

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Winter Photography (Part I)

16 Jan 2020 3:27PM   Views : 449 Unique : 263

The first thing many think about when this subject is mentioned is snow, but there's much more to winter than the white stuff.

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Snow is synonymous with the winter months but take a step back (watch the ice!) and consider how much snow most of us really get to see. For those in upland and mountainous areas that could be appreciable, though for the majority of us snow is just a day or two of inconvenience. From a photographic point of view it's make the most of it in a short time unless you're prepared to travel a distance. So what about the other ninety or so white-free winter days?

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Let's use landscape as an example, and I mean that in the widest sense so not just rural but urban and industrial too. The sun at this time of year is low in the sky, so there are long shadows which add depth and interest to a scene. I would add that the light can be softer, but on a cloudless Janaury day for example even a low sun can be almost as harsh as in June with high contrast and deep shadows. With leafless trees that can create an appealing starkness.

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This low angle light combined with various atmospheric conditions such as mist, fog and rain can be used to take pictures with added mood, mystery or drama which are much less likely at other times of the year. Shooting against the light can heighten these even more. While low angled light can be found in any season, the fact it's available all day long in winter and at more sociable hours means it's much easier to utilise it. Just ensure that the scene you want to capture isn't completely in the shade (if you're after the sun that is) as the sun may not get high enough in the sky to illuminate what you'd like it to.

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Often there isn't any sun, so overcast days and fog are very much winter too. You have to take the pictures that you can and not those you can't. That may sound rather obvious, but in practice that means instead of those strongly sidelit silver birches you wanted to capture, perhaps a row of receding pines gradually disappearing is the name of the game. Work with the conditions, not against them.

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Certainly it won't be warm (February 2019 excepted) but it's not about loads of layers or worrying about the camera battery failing. Sure, it's good to have a spare carried in a warm pocket and make sure you're clothed well. A comfortable photographer is a creative photographer. We're not talking bitterly cold (at least in most parts of the UK).

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So in that sense no special preparation is required. If you're doing photography in a town or city there's usually some warm cafes or other hostelries to visit to help you through the day. They're a potential source of images too even if it's shooting an abstract street scene through a rain covered window.

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Next time I'll look ast some more aspects of photography in the winter months.

All text and images Keith Rowley 2020

Comments


pink Plus
16 6.3k 8 United Kingdom
21 Feb 2020 11:53AM
Keith,
Interesting article, thanks.
Winter, for me as primarily a landscape shooter is the best time of year, as you said low sun enables us to shoot all day and bare deciduous trees enable us to see through the scene rather than block it out.
Also the odd frosty morning can add lots of foreground interest and mist also adds an ethereal feel to the most mundane scene.
I enjoy Spring and Autumn but Winter for me is the best of the lot!
Ian

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