Sunday, December 20, 2015

5 Ways to Keep Shooting Outside in Winter

There are many reasons to feel photographically discouraged over the Winter period, from rainy weather and freezing temperatures to poor lighting conditions. Nevertheless, this time of year also presents many opportunities you may not otherwise have, such as Christmas markets, snowy landscapes, lighting displays and various other festive events. The good news is that, with a little prior preparation, you can ensure not only your photo gear is protected but also that you’re inspired enough to go out and try something different. So here are five tips that will help keep you motivated over the winter months.


 
click on the images for a bigger view
 

1. Make sure to get the right Photo gear for Shooting


Cold, wet weather and expensive photographic gear are hardly a perfect match, but you may be surprised to learn just how many products there are designed to be used in testing conditions. Take my latest purchase for example. The Canon 24-105mm f4 lens works perfectly in bad weather. Weatherproof cameras may not survive being submerged in water but can still easily deal with a light rain shower, so that's an option as well. Many manufacturers now carry at least one model in the lines with this degree of protection. Don’t worry if you don’t own such a camera as you can buy rain covers quite cheaply to keep rain away from your existing gear. There are also batteries and memory cards that are designed for use in freezing conditions, and cases for the latter to keep them dry, but before you buy anything it’s worth checking the capabilities of your current gear. Many camera bags also come with rain covers integrated into a flap or pocket at their base, and while you can buy filters with water-repellant coatings to protect your lens, some lenses already have these kinds of coatings applied to their front element.



2. Protect yourself as well!

It sounds obvious but the warmer and drier you keep yourself, the more willing you’ll be to keep shooting in adverse weather. For this, consider planning before you head out the door by checking the weather forecast and packing a scarf and hat if you imagine you’ll be outdoors particularly late or for extended periods of time. Also consider a fleece-lined waterproof jacket and some kind of water-resistant trousers, and to make life easier when shooting, seek out gloves with either missing fingertips or those that can fold back so that you can access your camera’s physical controls. It has happened to me more then once that I get back home all covered in mud while shooting a rainy forest floor.


3. Go with the flow of bad weather

If the conditions outdoors are awful, why not make them work to your advantage? Making them the focus of your images will help you capture something different from what you’re used to – and here, you’re only limited by your imagination. I wrote about this previously so you can view that post on rainy-weather inspiration as well. You could capture icicles dangling from the rooftops or droplet-covered spiderwebs, or even condensation on windows, mirrors or other surfaces. You don’t just need to focus on details either – just think, for example, about how much more dramatic a landscape can becomes when it incorporates masses of menacingly dark clouds. Overcast conditions may not give colors a chance to shine as much as they would when it’s sunny, so consider switching to black and white or sepia options instead. Likewise, the reflections from wet surfaces create more contrast in the scene, so black and white treatments here can be particularly effective once it starts to rain.



4. A good Tripod is your Friend

If you’re not too inspired by darker, gloomy days, consider waiting until the evening for some long-exposure fun. Given how quickly it can get dark over the winter months you should plan to be ready before the conditions are ripe for shooting, with your camera set up on a sturdy tripod and either a remote release of some kind or knowledge of your self-timer settings to release the shutter without physical contact at the time of exposure. If your camera isn’t protected in any way, you may find a small umbrella that you can toss into your kit bag will help, should you find yourself caught in a shower while your camera is set up on a tripod.


5. Use Flash Creatively to light up Dark Spots

Just because there may not be much light around doesn’t mean that you can’t add some yourself. A hotshoe-mounted flashgun, or even the small flash inside your camera, can add some much needed illumination to a darker scene. At this time of year flash is particularly useful for helping you capture people shots against darker areas, whether it’s outdoor scenes studded with Christmas lights or indoors against the Christmas tree. The key here is to get a slow enough shutter speed to make sure the background is correctly exposed while filling in the foreground with the appropriate amount of flash for the subject.



I hope these tips could be of inspiration to you, and if you have more, feel free to share them in the comments below.

18 comments:

  1. Mersad, thank you so much for these great tips, and for sharing your beautiful photographs! Merry Christmas! :)

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    1. Thanks Linda for stopping by.

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  2. I will share this with a friend who just said to me, i can't take photos, it is freezing outside... your winter pics are wonderful.

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    1. I hope she will find it inspiring.

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  3. Thoughtful tips, Mersad. I like taking photos this time of year as I think winter can be very beautiful.

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    1. I agree. I even wrote previously about Photo ideas for Winter. There is lots to do.

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  4. Thanks for the tips. And I agree with you about the Canon 24-104 lens. I've used mine in some very wet conditions and it's still working great.

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    1. It's very sturdy. Definitely a plus for that lens, among other great features of it.

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  5. Good advice for everyone. And thanks for your comments on my stuff--- they always make me glad.

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  6. Thank you, as always, for the great information and post for the day, Mersad! It is, as always, interesting and very helpful!! We are having such a GRAY winter this year and a very wet one, too, so it's not much fun for this old lady to get out!! I hope you have a wonde4rful new week and a very Merry Christmas!! Enjoy!!

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  7. These are wonderful tips, Mersad. I was out walking the farm today thinking about trying to take photographs when everything is so brown and dreary!

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  8. Thank you for the fantastic tips. I hope to implement them this winter.

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  9. Well, around my part of the coast, there is not much 'winter'. Tho cold and gloomy on some days, I find that even then, my photo ops are okay.

    Good tips. I like the 'night scenes' and the moody sky you've captured.

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  10. Wonderful advice! If I may add a tiny addition... When coming in from the cold let your camera slowly reach room temperature, before packing it away. Condensation can harm digital cameras.
    Great post!

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  11. I find that the best technique for dealing with bad winter is going to Florida for the winter!

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    Replies
    1. I guess that is the best thing :D

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  12. Good tips! I like keeping a white umbrella in my car because it can do double duty as a diffuser on too-sunny days.

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