Winter is a bit of a funny period in the UK, spring is full of life beginning and the promise of summer approaching, summer (when not raining) is probably our favourite time of year to be outside. Autumn has a charm about it as the leaves turn and forests transform into a vast palette of colours before winter takes over. The coldest and darkest season, many of us associate this with dark, damp days other than the Christmas period. For me though, I find that winter has a certain charm about it.
In this blog we’ll be looking at capturing winter in all its glory, from the more accessible sunrises to the magic of colder temperatures. Sunrise is my favourite time of day during the winter months, where the mornings are cold, often frosty and if you’re lucky misty. I prefer sunrise over sunset because generally you’ll have frost/mist to photograph (if the weather is suitable) which might have gone by sunset. The added bonus of winter sunrises is that they’re much more forgiving than other times of the year, an 8am start isn’t too disastrous! A few weeks ago I put together a blog on photographing fog. Check it out for a few hints and tips. As the day progresses and the sun gets higher (if you can see it!) the quality of light drops off somewhat, making wide landscape shots less dramatic. Two fun things to do if you’re out and about is: 1. Slow down – slowing down your shutter speed when doing big landscape shots can make an image really dynamic, even if the light isn’t bright and dramatic. One of the ways to exaggerate the length of your shutter speed is to use a neutral density filter to reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor and so extending your shutter speed. This shot was 125 seconds long. There is no detail left in the mist as it has moved so much in that 125 seconds, making the fog look a bit like a white ribbon. 2. Focus on detail – winter is a great time for capturing the details of nature. From the hard frost on the ground to the last leaves hanging on a tree, detail shots in conjunction with some other, wider shots can really help capture the essence of winter as part of a photoessay. All taken with the X100s + TCL-X100 (in love with this combo). For this walk I limited myself to only this combo so I focused on composing images for that focal length. This is a good way to try and improve creativity and compositional skills. As the day draws to a close then you can begin to take advantage of the “magic hour”. If I have a free afternoon then what I like to do is go on a walk and end up in a nice location for sunset. This is what I recently did in the Peak District, walking a circuit from Hathersage up to Stanage Edge and Higgar Torr before heading back down to Hathersage. This was wonderful, about 6 miles and a great way to spend an afternoon. As I went along I was watching how the light changed as the sun came lower and how this affected the dramatic scenes in front of me. It was very interesting to see how the landscape evolved with the setting sun. Now we have been lucky enough to have had some snow recently, this is wonderful for pictures. Snow can take a landscape that you might see everyday and turn it into something magical. However, snow can be a little difficult to meter. This is where using the EVFs on X-Series cameras can be really beneficial, as you can see exactly how your camera has metered and adjust the exposure compensation accordingly. Finally if you’re brave enough (I haven’t been so far) then you can get out on a cold winters night and try some star photography, especially since so much of the day is now dark. Remember that the most important things are to stay warm, be sensible, check roads and the forecast. Roads can be very dangerous so look after yourself especially if you’re going out in the early hours. I hope this has been interesting and given you a few ideas on how to photograph the great outdoors during the winter months. Why not share with us your results via Fujifilm UK’s Twitter and Facebook pages.