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Winter Photography (Part II)


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Winter Photography (Part II)

30 Apr 2020 9:33PM   Views : 344 Unique : 261

I'm discussing more aspects of photography in winter time. It certainly isn't a time to avoid.

This should have appeared at the end of January/beginning of February. I had this written but other things took priority I'm afraid. I'd rather add it now a little unseasonally and continue the thread than leave it until later in the year as I have other topics I want to cover. Given the current lockdown now's the time to start up again.

Night comes early so it means there's no waiting until late to do night photography. The downside is that the 'blue hour' when the sky still has some attractive colour doesn't last long. In fact it's less than an hour. I work on a fifteen minute window of acceptable sky colour at this time of year which means there's fewer opportunities for capturing those images. If you take your first pictures looking east, then take them looking west you can extend that window somewhat. It requires a little thought and planning so that you're in the right spot so that you're not running around when the light is 'right' (for that reas 'as you'd loike it to be') and instead making use of it.


Christmas illuminations are an obvious subject, but what may look festive as you pass by may not translate into a good photo. A single street lamp illuminating a set of steps or a cobbled street can be more effective. Colour balance in these situations might be considered tricky so I just go for somehting that I like the look of. I'll look at colour balance later on this year.

Technically, with lower levels of light you'll be more likely to be using high ISO settings, especially if hand holding. If you can use a tripod then go for low ISOs as the resulting images will be better in terms of sharpness and lack of noise. Not that noise is so much of a problem these days with modern sensors and software can reduce it significantly. Alternatively noise can be added for atmosphere, mood or a retro look if that's what you're after. Those who remember using film may have been put off shooting in many winter conditions, with low ISO film not allowing high enough shutter speeds and high ISO film being very grainy. By fast film I mean ISO 400. Faster films were available and the grain had to be part of the image as it was unavoidable. No issue these days with clean images at ISO 1600 and more. That opens up more adventurous and creative photograpy. Or at least makes it easier to capture what you want.


Talking of noise, it's worth considering monochrome conversions. Some images shot on film were quite grainy, some were not. Some will suit the subject, some not, the great thing is to experiment. Mono is useful where the image is about shapes, lines and textures. An image that contains little colour can be more evocative in mono, But that goes for pictures taken in any season. Mono takes the image down to the essentials and gives the viewer's imagination some exercise. Not every image will work in terms of how it appeals, but it only takes a little time to try and you can abandon any changes if you're not happy. For more on mono see my blogs from last year.


There's a little more to come for next time, as I prefer to write three smaller blogs than one long one as they're more digestable.

All text and images © Keith Rowley 2020

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