There’s often a bit of a myth about the best time to head out with your camera for a spot of photography. There seems to be this idea that a bright, sunny summers day is the perfect time to shoot. Whilst it may be a great time to hike or be outdoors, it’s literally the worst time for photography! This is where winter really can trump the other months hands down.
Winter often gets overlooked in the UK for photography (unless you’re a pro). The cold mornings, wind and rain don’t exactly invite you outdoors. But this time of year is so beautiful for photography. The sun is usually lower in the sky, casting interest light and shadows across the landscape. The days are shorter, meaning you can get up for sunrise a little later, or shoot the sunset and be back early. And the weather conditions often open up for some seriously stunning subject matter – frost, dew and snow to name a few.
So if you’re wanting to collect some beautiful imagery for your social media, marketing or just personal admiration, I’ve listed my top 5 subject matter to shoot this time of year to give you some inspiration!
A little note on my shooting medium of preference:
I always use a DSLR camera with a selection of lenses and filters to create the best shot possible with minimal post-edit (although post-edit is still a vital part of the process and should never be classed as ‘faking it’, just as you would carefully and selectively process a film negative to your liking).
That being said, if you’re not equipped with such gear, I’ve purposely selected subject matter that a decent smartphone, possibly with an app or two installed, can yield good results from. (Again, possibly running the shots through the Instagram editing app or Adobe Lightroom app)
I don’t currently blog about photography techniques, but if it’s something you’d like to see more of, let me know in the comments!
1: Frost on plants
Get up early on a cold, sunny winters day and head out to your local park or gardens. Your own back yard may suffice. Look for side light casting shadows across the plants to create texture in the frost. Overcast days create beautiful conditions, but I find sunny days help give a warm cast to the image, which gives it a beautiful glow. If you’re using a smartphone I’m pretty sure you can get an app to assist with macro shots.
2: Lakes and river scenes
There’s few things better than an incredible winter scene to capture. I often find inland water to have the edge over coastal scenes on winter days due to the fact that there can often be beautiful ice formations, or such stillness in the water that you get stunning reflections. Early morning or late afternoon is best to get that lovely low light. If you’re really brave, get there an hour before sunrise to get that ‘golden hour’ of light.
3: Snow and icicle patterns
It’s not just scenes in the snow and ice that create beautiful shots; the patterns they create can also be amazing, both in nature and in an urban setting. The way snow falls in the cracks of walls and cobbled streets for instance. Or the way ice forms on leaves. Get close up and try and face the pattern head on, especially if it’s quite symmetrical like the below bricks shot.
I don’t exactly live in the wilderness, so I ain’t getting pictures of bears and eagles any time soon, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get close to any wildlife. You go to any park in Britain and I guarantee you’ll find some adorable winter animal happy to have their picture taken. Squirrels being the most common. Or deer, if you’re lucky. Best tip for shooting wildlife; try as hard as you can to get their eyes in focus.
5: Warm food and drinks
What better after a series of ‘outdoorsy’ shots than one of the most heart-warming, cosiest, sleepiest scene you can imagine? I’m talking soup, coffee, blankets, cozy fires, you name it. Whatever ‘cozy’ means to you, capture it. If you are shooting indoors, without pro-equipment, try and have one, possibly two sources of natural light lighting your subject or scene from the side. Ideally with no artificial light as it will mess with your colour balance.
And there you have it! my five top subject matters for winter photography, even if you’ve only got your smartphone! Do you have any favourite subjects to shoot in winter? Share them below!