Ten Tips To Help Beat The Winter Photography Blues
This week for Tuesday Tips I will look at how to beat the winter blues with your photography. Winter is a time of the year when the world seems to turn grey. Most of the days it seems like a permacloud has descended over our town. It can be a time when you don’t feel creative because there is nothing inspiring outside. I go through this every winter. Here are ten tips that I use to help keep those winter blues away from my photography.
1. Use The Light – When the sun does come out in the winter it is a much more pleasant light than what you get in the summer. The sun is not as high in the sky so you get more of the golden hour effect for longer periods of the day. Put that nice light up against the blue sky, and you have photos that instantly look better.
2. Find Beautiful Things Inside – That beautiful light that I talked about above does not always happen. In fact it is the exception not the rule. When the weather turns ugly on you take your photography inside. There is always something in your area that could use an architectural photo session. For me most of my indoor photography work in the winter is sports related. That is an easy way to still make nice photos in the winter. If you are not into sports though there are many things that can still keep you occupied inside.
3. Water Droplet Photography – A couple of winters ago I had some fun making photos of water droplet splashes. The photo above was made with very little gear, but a lot of creativity. I enjoyed changing the look of the scene with color gels and light placement. A design on the glass that the water was in also show up in the photo. This is a fun way to get to learn how to synch lights and cameras together.
4. Lightpainting – This is a fun way to spend some time that really doesn’t require you to break the bank at all. All that you need a dark room, a tripod, a flashlight, a small kids sock, and your camera. You are then in control of where the light lands on your subject. Each photo that you make can be completely different depending on where you place the light. This is a great trick to learn for those times when you are in the field and you don’t have good light for a still subject.
5. Find Color! – Part of the bad part of winter is the fact that everything seems to be sapped of color. I think that the lack of color can play tricks with your head. I try and find color anywhere that I can. Around Christmas this can be a bit easier. Still I waited until blue hour to make this photo. We were eating nearby, and I waited until the sky was right before going out and making my photo. A little extra color goes a long way this time of year.
6. Snokeh! – I feel like I am beating this into the ground, but I love snokeh this time of year. With the right snow conditions you can make snow photos a little cooler by popping a little flash onto them. You can do this same thing with rain, but you and your camera get much wetter. With big snow flakes it works the best. You can see my post on creating better snokeh photos here.
7. Challenge Yourself – This is something that I find myself doing all of the time when I am not feeling creative. I will come up with a way to challenge myself. This is something that can really help change things up in the winter. A lot of these tips are ways that I challenge myself. This can be learning a new trick like light painting. It could be taking your long lens out to locations where you would normally take a wide angle lens. Finding ways to make you see things differently is a great way to spark creativity. In the photo above I had the intention of making photos of campus that are familiar to me in a different way. I purposely put the subject out of focus and left the snow in focus.
8. Focus On The Details – I find that in the winter I don’t make as many photos of buildings and landscapes because the sky is that dull color that just turns white in post processing. One way around that is to focus on the details of the scene. Most counties have a cool courthouse that we all love to make wide angle photos of. In the winter I don’t do that as often, but I do enjoy making tighter photos of the cool details of it. By focusing on these little things you can still make photos when the conditions are not perfect for photography. For the photo above I had one day in St. Louis, and the sky was terrible. Instead of making the normal wide photo from this scene I moved closer to my subject to eliminate as much of the sky as I could. I ended up with a photo that still had the elements that I wanted in it, but just more of them and less sky.
9. Make Photos With A Friend – When you go out and make photos with a friend it accomplishes a couple of things. One is that you are out there which is half the battle. It also gives you a way to see another persons creative process. When you are with a friend you challenge each other, and usually something great comes out of it. Even if you don’t make a great photo you have gone out to have some fun. The photo above was from a fun winter outing with my friend Trevor. He showed me where the space station was going to come through the scene, and in return he received my amazing banter for the night. I really think that he lost out on this one.
10. Read A Good Book – I am a big lover of photo books. I have way too many of them. I love looking at how the masters of photography see the world. It is a great way to expand your knowledge of photography in general. It is also a great way to get inspired to try something new.