Natural light is the best companion for pretty photos, but in winter, with the shorter days it’s a bit like gold dust. Especially if you have a full time job, my soul bleeds for you a little bit. The shortest day of the year has passed, so we’re technically through the worst of it, but it’s still pretty abysmal out there. I’ve improved my photography a lot over the last few months, and I thought I’d give you my best tips for these easy breezy, light and airy photos.
Chase the light.
Probably the most common sense tip out there, but it’s one that you should follow. Find the lightest, brightest room and run with it. I personally use my big bedroom window as my main light source, as I find it bright enough and I take photos at a similar time of day, but I have found that the brightest area is near my patio window. Work with what you’ve got. Perch right under than window if you have to.
Overcast days are your new BFF.
While some people adore the bright sunny days to take photos, I find them too wishy washy. My photos never seem to look even and they love to cast shadows. When the sun is behind the clouds, the photographer within me comes out to play. Shadows are a lot more limited and I just prefer how everything looks. The photo above was taken on a day I don’t think I saw the sun.
Get to know your camera and it’s exposure settings.
ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed are words you need to get a little familiar with if you own a big fancy camera. If you use your phone, then understand it’s features inside and out. There’s no excuses here. If you want a lovely image, then the camera needs to do the bulk of the work and you need to do your research. Editing can only do so much. Ideally you want a low ISO (too high and it goes grainy), a fast shutter speed, especially if you’re without a tripod to steady the camera, and an aperture that lets in enough light. Cameras nowadays usually give you a preview image, but ultimately mess around with them until you like the image.
Contrary to popular belief, Photoshop is not the be all and end all. I use Photoscape and I find it does the job well. There’s also PicMonkey and iPiccy which aren’t too shabby either. Upping the brightness levels here is key, I find upping the exposure levels washes all my hard work out, whereas with the brightness and contrast tool, they merely enhance it. Colour curves is another one to play around with. It’s a graph that you pretty much manipulate, and probably the source of all my fun when I edit. Fake the brightness, if the brightness just ain’t there.
Use Bright Surfaces/Reflectors.
I use a white table to take most of my photos on and if things look a little too drab, I whip out my homemade reflector (more on that in a post to come). If that bad boy has to come out, then you know things are pretty desperate. Now black surfaces aren’t going to help on these dark days, white and bright is what you really want to look for.
I hope I’ve helped your winter photography woes a little here. Do you have any other tips?