photograph of robin perched on wall

How to Take Exciting Photos in Winter

8 Tips for How to Take Exciting Photos in Winter

You might be tempted to put your camera away during the winter months – after all, who wants to be out in the freezing cold or the rain, when they could be indoors in the warmth, nursing a hot cup of coffee? However, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Plus, there are clear mental health benefits associated with both being outdoors and concentrating fully on a creative activity, so you’re fully in the moment.

Winter is a great time for capturing some amazing shots – it may look as though nothing much is happening, but life doesn’t stand still, and you need to be out there documenting it. 

After all, that’s what you bought your camera for isn’t it? So I’m going to show you 8 ways to get creative with your camera, even when the weather’s looking less than inviting!


8 Tips for Winter Photography

1) Winter Landscape Photography

Photograph the Winter Weather

Winter weather can be dramatic and it can also change quickly, so it presents some really exciting photo opportunities. And it’s not just about photographing snow! Keep an eye out for interesting cloud formations, mist, fog and yes, even rain. If the sky is looking particularly dramatic, think about your composition too, and have it dominate the picture to create real impact

Dramatic cloud formation with moon showing between the clouds, and a small section of field shrouded in mist at the bottom of the image.
Here, I’ve let the sky dominate the shot as the cloud formations looked very dramatic (especially with the moon peeping through!)

2) Winter Wildlife Photography

Photograph Your Winter Birds

Winter presents the ideal opportunity for photographing birds – they’ll need to keep well fed during these challenging months, and if you’re lucky enough to have a bird feeder, you should be rewarded with a variety of visitors. Preparation and patience are the key. Robins make the perfect subject, as they’re incredibly tame – you may even be able to get one to feed from your hand!

To photograph birds successfully, ensure that you focus accurately, making the eye the main focal point. Use a fast shutter speed and try and aim for a plain, uncluttered background so that the subject stands out clearly and there are no distractions.

Close-up photo of a robin on a wall, with the background blurred out.

3) Take Photos in the Rain!

Rain Photography Tips

Blue-toned photo of a winter tree reflected in a puddle.

Provided you and your camera are well protected, there’s no reason not to take photos in the rain. In fact, if you’re feeling brave, you might find you capture some of your most creative photos. 

So wrap your camera in a rain sleeve or even a clear plastic bag, with a hole cut out for the lens, don your wet weather gear, and get shooting! 

Look for puddles with reflections, rain drops on branches or plants, rain-spattered windows etc.

You’ll need a fairly high ISO to cope with the low light levels, and if you want to show movement in your photos or freeze the motion of the raindrops, then you’ll definitely need a tripod.

4) Shoot Some Outdoor Winter Portraits

Practise Your Natural Light Portrait Photography

Your session will need to be short and sweet so that neither of you freezes, but don’t discount taking portraits, just because the weather is cold.

Natural light in winter, particularly on an overcast day, provides the ideal conditions for portrait photography; it’s soft and diffused, with no harsh shadows, which means it’s a lot more flattering for your subject. 

Choose a great winter outfit – think furry collars and hats, bright scarves and gloves. Use a reflector underneath the subject’s face to bounce a bit of light back and counteract any slight shadows. 

Always be mindful of how your subject is feeling; get them to move around to keep the blood circulating and beware the effect of the cold on people’s complexions – i.e. red noses!

Outdoor portrait in winter of woman wearing a multi-coloured fur hat, white coat with fur collar and dark glasses..
As long as you keep your model warm, and the session short and sweet, outdoor winter portraits can be very rewarding

5) Photograph Those Frosty Mornings

Frosty Scenes Make Magical Photos

If you’re not lucky enough to have snow, frost is the next best thing to photograph. Suddenly, everything looks so much more interesting. 

You’ll need to be up early in the morning to take full advantage of the effects. Be sure to shoot a wide variety of subjects, from frosty landscapes to frost-covered details, such as leaves and branches, or frozen ice patterns on water. If you have a macro lens, so much the better, as you’ll really be able to home in on a small area and go to town creating beautiful abstract compositions. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you’ll become so engrossed you’ll forget all about your numb fingers and toes!

Close-up of ivy leaves covered in frost, growing on a rusty bridge.

6) Photograph a Spider’s Web

How to Take Amazing Photos of a Spider’s Web

Cobwebs are truly a work of art and are a gift for photographers. 

You’ll need either a long or macro lens so you can go in really close. Work with a fairly wide aperture so you can focus in on a very specific part of the web, but don’t go too wide otherwise you may find it tricky to nail your focus. 

Try to take your photos when the weather’s not too breezy as these delicate structures will be blown around by the slightest breath of wind. Use a tripod combined with a fairly fast shutter speed too, to safeguard against any unnecessary movement from either you or the cobweb.

On a misty day or after rain, water droplets clinging to a web make for stunning images. Aim to get the light behind the droplets, so it illuminates them and makes them really stand out. Also, see number 5 for ideas for what to photograph on a frosty day. 

In terms of composition, a dark background will help to avoid unnecessary distractions. Again, aim for a mixture of details, and also some wider shots taken with the cobweb fully in focus from the front to emphasise the intricacy of its construction.

7) Shadow Photography

Get Creative With Shadow Photography

During the winter months, with the sun lower in the sky, dramatic shadows are everywhere. Look at walls, pavements, people’s faces, bridges and steps, just for starters.

You’ll need to watch your exposure, as the high contrast can trick your camera’s meter. Don’t forget that depending on what you’re photographing, you may need to underexpose slightly if you want a really dramatic, deep black shadow. 

Look for really crisp, easily identifiable shapes, and if the angle of the light is distorting them, make sure it works in the subject’s favour and doesn’t just make for a vague, amorphous shape.

A tree shadow cast onto a white tiled wall.

8) Practise Your Food Photography

Learn to Photograph Food

And if you really can’t be persuaded to venture outdoors, just raid the food cupboard and create your own still life. After all, it won’t move, you won’t have to contend with the weather and you can always eat the subject afterwards!

When photographing food, try and use natural light rather than flash. You can opt for soft light coming through a window or, if it’s really bright and sunny, make use of the higher contrast to create a more dramatic photo.

Don’t forget to pay attention to artfully arranging the food, and practise using lots of different setups. You could, for example, experiment with flatlays (more tricky than they look), shallow depth-of-field to emphasise one particular part or a wider view of the complete set up.

Close-up photo of biscuits piled on a plate and shot from above using shallow depth-of-field.

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