Winter can be harsh on the photographer. It's usually the bad and cold weather that makes us loose the will to go out and shoot. But there is actually lots to see during the winter months. Here are some photo subjects and themes that you can shoot all year round, no matter the weather, and scenes that you can shoot only because of it. I hope these ideas will be inspiring for some.
click on the images for a bigger view
It would be a pretty bad list of ideas of what to shoot during winter, if it didn't include snow. I do want to go one step further here though. If you don't want grey snow images here is a tip: slightly overexpose your snow images. Here is why: your cameras sensor, when faced with the color white naturally wants to level out the exposure between the light and dark parts of the image, and creates a grey shot. If you overexpose slightly, your whites will stay white. Tip for dslr users: You can also use manual white balance and get the same results. Also, as you can see in the image above, snow shots work in the dark as well. So try it out!
2. Stay Inside
Are snow storms and winds making it impossible for your to leave your home? Don't worry, this list includes at least two ideas you can do right from home. The first one is to shoot scenes inside your home, from cute morning scenes, like the one with Beni above, or shots of your interiors, portraits of people living with you, everyday chores and happenings, projects, ideas, baking, cooking, dinners, and so on and so on. Sometimes the creativity spurs when it's limited by certain factors.
3. Shoot Silhouettes
I agree, bare trees make for bland subjects, but framed correctly, they can evoke the spirit of winter. Like in the shot above, use them to create silhouettes. This works especially nice at sunset. But don't stop at trees. Make use of shadows, as well as city skylines. Both work well for silhouettes.
4. Black and White
When you take colors out of the equation, things opportunities suddenly become wider. You can always shoot black and white, not matter the time of the year. I especially like shooting black and white cityscapes during winter. The lights and shadows play well with each other, and it doesn't matter if the sky is overcast or grey, because, well, it's going to look like that in black and white anyway. Of course you don't have to stay in the city to do these. Try lone country roads, big vast fields, structures and objects, the world is your pickle.
5. Frosty Mornings
Sunrises are really great to shoot in winter. There is a certain feeling when the frosty morning cold bites your cheeks. This is one of those subjects you can shoot from your window, and don't have to leave the house. Try increasing the contrast later on to create an even more dramatic effect. Of course pale pastel colors work also well for a frosty morning.
With our without snow, mountains are a great escape during the winter. Life flows differently here, and the number of photo subjects increases a lot. Try shooting woods and forests, snow covered mountain tops, lodges, paths and ski events.
7. Night Photography
An overcast sky is usually the biggest downer when it comes to shooting in winter, but that all gets eliminated when you shoot at night. Night photography is a great way to get a lot from the dark season that is winter. Try playing with light and shadows, shoot parks and houses, city life, and always have your tripod with you. It's an essential tool for night photography. You can go wider and try shooting star trails and dusk in your town.
8. Winter Blooms
Not everything is still and dead in winter. There are a lot of things in nature that you can find in winter to shoot. Try exploring woods and forests (or even your own garden) to find them. Usually at the end of the winter period you will find signs of early blooms spread all around. A little bit of color in the grey months can be very refreshing.
9. Food and Drinks
This is a great photo idea all year round: Food Photography. I recently did a 5 Tips for Great Food Photography post, that you can check out for more detailed instructions. What's good about this is, that you don't have to leave the house, you have a very controlled environment, and you also get to eat the photo subject.
10. Moody Skies
Lastly, I want to touch upon the moody skies, that are prominent in winter. Mist, fog and clouds add so much depth to your landscape shots, that you shouldn't shy away from making these types of photos. But what's really important here is editing! Play with the contrast, and lift the bland grey layers from the image and show the starkness of the clouds and sky. I also have a tutorial on creating dramatic black and white landscapes that can very well be used on colored winter landscapes as well.
What are your favorite photo subjects in winter?
Share this post with someone who you think needs some inspiration during winter.