Category

Hints and Tips

sunsets

If you’ve ever been awestruck by a stunning sunset, here’s our advice for how best to capture the evening sky on camera…

 

Plan ahead

If you’re holidaying in a beautiful spot that you’d like to record for posterity or just have a special place nearby, the first step to ensure you capture a gorgeous photo of the sun setting is by planning ahead. Get your equipment ready – camera, charged battery, wide-angle lens, tripod – and maybe do a recce to frame up your shots ahead of the crucial moments when the sky looks at its best.

 

Check your directions

To make sure you get the best possible picture of the sunset, it’s a good idea to assess the location and light direction before the sun actually hits the horizon – that way you can think about silhouettes, shadows and composition so you’re ready when the magic starts to happen.

 

There are all sorts of apps available to help you see where the sun’s going to set on a given day – we like the Photographer’s Ephemeris, which is available on your gadget’s app store of choice. This gives you sunrise and sunset times and allows you to see where exactly the sun will disappear on a specific day – very handy for planning ahead.

 

Grab your tripod

A good tripod is essential for taking great sunset photos. It won’t just save your arms from getting tired – it’ll also allow you to take exactly the same picture with exposure adjustments, or capture the same scene as the light changes during the process of the sun setting.

 

Using a remote shutter release or your phone (assuming your camera has WiFi control) can help you to capture scenes without nudging the camera itself. A slightly slower shutter speed will allow you to record a little movement in trees, grassland or water – once your camera’s safely on your tripod and you’re happy with the composition, play around with your settings to see what works best.

 

Watch the clouds

If you’re lucky enough to live near a spot with a spectacular sunset on offer, you can afford to be picky about the weather conditions and wait for the right clouds to come along. Keeping a diary of the cloud formations and weather that results in the best skies can make your project easier. When you get a magnificent sky, make a note of the weather that afternoon – and eventually you’ll build up the skills to predict when a truly stunning sunset is going to occur.

 

Consider composition

If you’re faced with superb skies, you’ll probably want to make them the main focus of your shot – but you’ll also need to set them against a little of the landscape in order to show scale and give them context.

 

We’d suggest that for starters, you try placing the horizon along the bottom line (you’ll be able to turn on a grid overlay based on the rule of thirds by hunting through your camera’s display options) so the sky fills the majority of the scene, but so that you’ve still got a little foreground interest in the shot. Experiment with your chosen view to see what works the best!

 

Look around you

Sometimes the most beautiful aspect of a sunset isn’t the sky itself, but the colours and shadows caused by the setting sun’s light. To take creative sunset pictures, turn your camera around and capture the shadows cast by trees, or try a picture inspired by the red-gold light being cast on faces or illuminating buildings. If the skies are clear, the western sky will often go a deep blue – which makes an orange subject stand out even more.

 

Check your exposure

Shooting into the sun can play havoc with your camera’s exposure settings, so keep an eye on the histogram to ensure you’re not over- or under-exposing any area of the scene in front of you. Peaks to the right-hand-side of the histogram mean you’re likely to have bright white areas in your photo without any detail – so you’ll need to bring the curve back to the left slightly to reclaim those finer details.

 

Using exposure compensation alongside your Live View display and a histogram can give you creative control over your pictures. Taking a couple of different exposures will give you options when you’re back at your computer – and shooting in Raw lets you have the most possible control over finder adjustments.

 

Change your metering mode

The best metering mode for sunset photography is centre-weighted metering: this’ll give you an average exposure with both the sky and the land taken into consideration. Using spot-metering and placing the dot over the sky will allow you to turn the horizon into a silhouette – useful when you’re trying to capture the colours of the sky and not the land around it.

 

 

Don’t leave too quickly

As all good landscapers know, the actual moment of sunset isn’t the main event. It’s not until about 15-20 minutes after the sun has set that the skies become ablaze, so don’t pack up your camera too promptly – keep your eyes on the skies throughout and wait until the show’s definitely over…

 

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Portrait

Spring means warmer weather – and more daylight means more chance to work on your people pictures. Grab a willing model and get out there!

 

Choose the right camera

Portraits will always look better on a camera with a little control over aperture and focus, allowing you to blur out the background and select which areas of your photo you want to be sharp. Always aim for the eyes to be your main point of focus: an aperture of f/5.6 or wider should enable you to keep the entirety of the person in focus, while softening the background and any foreground for a professional look to your photo. A mirrorless camera like the Fujifilm X-A3 is a good bet – plus its inbuilt wireless image transfer makes it simple to send your shots straight to your subject’s phone after taking them.

 

Head outdoors

This is a nice colourful street portrait from @findingneelT

A post shared by Jessops (@jessops) on Dec 27, 2016 at 1:26am PST

If you’re truly stuck for a location, look to your own front door – the shading and framing on offer means you’ll often find some of the best natural light conditions on your own doorstep. Place your person just inside the doorway and step out, then focus and expose on their face so the background’s blurred and often darker than the main subject area. This works especially well if the door frame is a bright colour, contrasting with the subject’s outfit.

 

Look for natural frames

How cute is this portrait by @jamesmagill?

A post shared by Jessops (@jessops) on Aug 4, 2016 at 12:40pm PDT

Think carefully about the background that’s going to be behind your subject: you don’t want it to be too distracting, but you don’t want it to be too plain and look like a studio, either. If you can’t blur the background out with a wide aperture lens then we suggest using it to your advantage: place strong vertical lines like doorframes on the lines that correspond to the “rules of thirds”, and frame your subject using them – chances are you’ll end up with a much more impactful photo.

 

Try a black and white approach

https://www.instagram.com/p/BPz9vxTl4fA/?taken-by=jessops

Desaturating your image – whether in camera using a filter, or on your phone/tablet/computer after transferring your shot – can be a great way to add drama and contrast to draw out the emotion of a photo. This is especially useful in situations where you can’t control the distracting colours in the background of a shot, or where the light is fairly flat and even due to cloud cover. Make sure the basic principles of portraiture are taken care of then experiment away to see if you enjoy this black & white effect.

 

Rain stopped play? Head indoors

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOH-uRwF6ky/?taken-by=jessops

The unpredictable weather experienced at this time of year makes natural light portraiture a challenge – if the elements do conspire against you, there’s still plenty of portrait fun to be had indoors. A set of fairy lights can make atmospheric lighting: head to a dark spot, then string the lights around your model (careful!) and position them to illuminate their face and skin.

 

Get creative

https://www.instagram.com/p/BHAatfdHG-K/?taken-by=jessops

Totally stuck for ideas? Why not go double layed and use an instant print of the same scene in your photo – these Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 are great value and a whole lot of fun for creative people pictures.

 

Show us your shots

Once your subject’s happy with the photos, be sure to share your best work with us on Facebook or Instagram – this is where wireless image transfer technology (like that found on the Fujifilm X-A3) comes in extremely handy. Don’t forget to tag us in with #JessopsMoment – we can’t wait to see your shots!

 

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dog

Ahead of Crufts, we’re sharing our top tips to help improve your pooch portraits and take better photos of your dog – so grab your camera and your four-legged friend and let’s get creative!

 

Puppy pack

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRFpFLXlxEN/?taken-by=jessops

If you’re capturing more than one dog in a single shot then you’ll need to move fast – a speedy shutter speed will help you freeze the action, and be sure to make use of your camera’s burst mode to capture as many shots as you can, as quickly as possible. This’ll leave you with a lot of images to review afterwards, but you’ll be able to pick out the one with precisely the right combination of expressions for an unforgettable photo.

 

The eyes have it

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNq99MLlduw/?taken-by=jessops

Whatever level you’re shooting at, make sure the eyes of your dog are in focus – position the focus point on their pupils, half-press your shutter button and recompose your picture until you’re happier with the composition. They say the eyes are the window to the soul for a reason, you know…

 

Try an environmental portrait

https://www.instagram.com/p/BHc63FOAA1B/?taken-by=jessops

If your dog loves a special place more than anywhere else, why not capture them in their most-loved location? Get down to their level for a dogs-eye-view of the scene, and try composing the picture so they’re looking into empty space. Place your dog on the “thirds” lines within the frame for extra impact.

 

Get creative

https://www.instagram.com/p/BF_I0B5nG2m/?taken-by=jessops

 

If the usual approach leaves you cold, try a new perspective or creative lens – like an upside-down-fisheye-view of your four-legged-friend, or placing your camera at the bottom of a hole!

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BDdkPq6HG4-/?taken-by=jessops

 

That’s the great thing about digital photography: you can delete your experiments and try again until you’re happy with your work.

 

 

Mix it up with monochrome

https://www.instagram.com/p/BBWu-LynG7L/?taken-by=jessops

 

Sometimes a moodier look is what you’re after – especially if you’re trying to capture the soul of your dog. Placing them in the centre of the frame and using a monochrome filter (either during capture or applied afterwards) can help you make the most of a cloudy day or dramatic shadows

 

Introduce their favourite toy

https://www.instagram.com/p/9OkYZ3HGw5/?taken-by=jessops

If your hound has a toy they just can’t be without, capture it on camera for posterity (before they destroy it!) – using something they love can also be a way of attracting their attention towards the camera.

 

Set out early

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFCf8amHG6T/?taken-by=jessops

If you’re planning to capture a special portrait of your dog, why not make a day of it? Set your alarm clock and head to the hills with your hound and your camera for a trip planned around a few key photo opportunities. Look for framing opportunities

 

On your marks…

https://www.instagram.com/p/BHDSJ_AAKPL/?taken-by=jessops

If your dog’s a speedy sort, you could try an action shot – head to a secure spot, then have a friend take them away from you (within sight!) and call them towards you. If their recall’s up to scratch they’ll come running towards you: giving you and your camera a chance to practise your continuous AF and reaction times! Again, burst mode comes in handy here – but the good thing about dogs is that they’re pretty much always excited to have another go, if you missed it the first time…

 

Share your work!

If you’ve captured a great shot of your dog, share it with us on Instagram or Facebook – or why not set up your dog’s own Instagram account where you can show off your new dog photography skills and get ideas from other dog accounts? We can’t wait to see what you’ve captured…

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spring

Armed with a compact camera, and want to capture the beauty of the new season? There’s nothing to stop you! Here are three tips to get you thinking creatively about your picture-taking and help you make the most of the warmer weather on the way…

 

 Seek out the special modes

Although you might just use your camera for point-and-shoot style photography (and there’s nothing wrong with that), chances are that your camera also has several special modes designed to help you take better pictures of specific subjects. They’ll be indicated by little icons which look like the subject in question: a tiny hilly scene for the landscape mode, a face for portrait mode, a flower for a close-up mode – and so on.

 

Switching to these modes when you’re trying to capture the relevant subject will instruct your camera to automatically use the best possible settings. For close-ups or Macro pictures – which comes in very handy in spring, when you’re faced with fields of beautiful flowers – this adjusts the camera’s focus settings so it’ll be able to focus on subjects that are much closer to the lens. The opposite occurs when you select landscape mode for distant scenes, and so on.

 

Choosing these special modes means you’re more likely to get pictures you’re proud of. Experiment between the modes your camera offers, and see if you can spot the difference – this’ll help you to learn about your camera’s settings and improve your picture taking.

 

If you’re already confident with your camera, perhaps you could try using them in the wrong situations to see what happens – such as portrait mode for a landscape scene, and so on – and use your knowledge to work out how the settings are changing the result. Let us know if you have any questions – we’re always around to help!

 

 Make the most of your camera

When you picked your camera, we’re guessing you chose it for a specific reason. Maybe it’s got a super long zoom lens, like the Sony HX350 and its 50x optical zoom lens or the Sony HX90V with built-in Wifi for speedy sharing – whatever it was that first drew you to your camera, why not set yourself the challenge of making the most of it during this new season?

 

Let’s say you do have that Sony HX350 with the long zoom – try using it to its fullest extent! Perhaps you could set up a bird feeder in your back garden to see what wildlife you attract, and lurk indoors – using your long lens – to capture any feathery visitors to your garden. Alternatively you could head to the city, and use the lens to pick out architectural abstracts atop high buildings while staying at ground level – or capture candid portraits from the other side of a street.

 

To make the most of the HX90V’s Wifi-based image sharing, perhaps you could set up a brand new Instagram account for a project on a certain subject, such as springtime sunrises – or signs of the new season in an urban environment?

 

Whichever camera you own, we bet there’s a stand-out feature which you could make the most of. Tell us what you’ve picked, and show us the photos you create using it!

 

 Give your home a new look

The arrival of the warmer weather is a great opportunity to throw open your home’s windows and take a good hard look at your living space – could your walls do with a little brightening up?

 

Set yourself the challenge of taking some art for your home’s bare walls, then turning the pictures into canvas prints or actual prints to be framed in your new home gallery.

 

Abstract close-ups of new plants and flowers work well, and springtime means there are plenty around to choose from: select a colour you like and hunt out some plants which match that scheme, then get close using Macro or close-up mode and enjoy framing your subject in a creative way. Try your hand at contre-jour lighting, where you place the flower or plant between your camera and the sun – this makes petals and leaves glow vibrantly and can look fantastic in bright prints or posters.

 

A camera with a large sensor (such as the Sony HX350’s, which has 20MP) will mean that you can crop into your images after you’ve taken them without losing quality, so you can still enjoy sharp images on your walls throughout your home.

 

If you’re not sure how to edit your pictures after you’ve taken them – or if you feel like you could do with a refresher on the basics of photography, then why not sign up for one of our Academy Courses or Workshops? They take place throughout the UK on a range of subjects and topics: check here to see what’s on offer.

 

Most importantly, be sure to enjoy your camera’s full potential – you could start planning trips to locations where you know there’s photography to be had! And if you’re not sure your camera’s right for you or that you might have outgrown your current model, head into your local Jessops store where our staff will whittle down the options to pick out the one best suited to your interests.

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Snowdrops-

Winters in the UK can be long, cold and harsh – particularly if you’re a fan of picture-taking. In the real depths of the chilly season you’d be forgiven for feeling as though spring was never going to turn up… and then, out of nowhere, vast swathes of snowdrops pop up out of leaf-strewn woodland and give us all a sign that the warmer weather is just around the corner!

Snowdrops can make beautiful subjects for photos, but they’re not around for long – so it’s important to make the most of them while you can. Here’s how to capture snowdrops on camera, along with some creative ideas to get you thinking about these most seasonal of flowers…

Plan ahead

You’ve not got long to enjoy snowdrops: they normally pop up towards the end of Jan and linger until March, depending on where you’re located in the UK and the weather you’re experiencing, of course!

Some locations – particularly National Trust properties – specialise in these delicate blooms, and true Galanthus (that’s Latin for snowdrop) aficionados will make pilgrimages across the country to visit these special places. In peak snowdrop season they’re bound to be busy, so think about dropping by mid-week to enjoy photographing the flowers undisturbed by other visitors.

Set your alarm clock

Once you know where you’re heading, getting there early will give you the best possible chance to enjoy the day. As well as avoiding large crowds, you also might get an opportunity to shoot the snowdrops in morning mist, and enjoy the sideways light found at the start and end of the day.

Pack the right kit

To get the most out of a trip to photograph snowdrops you’ll need some good kit by your side. Mirrorless and DSLR owners should pack a wide range of lenses, including wide-angles to capture the banks of flowers in woodland – as well as macro lenses for extreme close-ups. Take extra memory cards and a spare battery too, if you have one, so you can extend your day out as long as you like.

If you’ve got a compact camera, the above still applies – but check your camera’s automatic modes to see if you have one that suits flowers or macro subjects.

Get a better perspective

Snowdrops are deeply tempting subjects to photograph, but so many people simply stand above them and snap downwards. The best approach is to get down to their level – which might mean a little lie down in the mud! Pack a binbag or other plastic sheeting to protect yourself from the worst of the grub, and be careful not to damage any other flowers while you’re setting up your shot!

Shooting at the same level as their white hanging teardrop-style flowers will give you a chance to appreciate their delicate details – time to get out the macro lens and experiment with a shallow depth of field. If you’re looking at a lot of flowers all together, try blurring out the other flowers so they appear as white bokeh, blurred in the back of your shot: adjust your aperture to check results as you shoot. Do you want a single bloom in focus, or a clump? Try both, and see which you prefer.

Consider your lighting (and get creative!)

Natural light is best, especially at this time of year – but the direction in which it falls on the flower can make all the difference. Try capturing the snowdrop from all angles: backlit can be particularly dramatic, leaving the snowdrop with bright glowing leaves.

If you pack a small reflector in your camera bag, you could also experiment with bouncing light back into the shot to add extra illumination. A small water spray bottle will allow you to gently add moisture when you’re working extremely close-up to flowers: these fake dewdrops can add real interest to an image.

Don’t forget black and white

Most people approach snowdrops by working in colour, especially with the bright white blooms against leaf-strewn ground and bright green leaves – but there’s no reason why a monochromatic approach wouldn’t work either, especially in high-contrast areas with shadows galore. Experiment, and tag us in if you get a good one!

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Beautiful Bokeh

Posted - 30 January, 2017
bokeh

Brighten up your portraits this winter with colourful street light bokeh!

When we talk about portrait photography we often discuss how best to use natural light, for example using the sun as a backlight. Here, we’ve got an alternative technique that involves shooting in the evening and using street lights instead of the sun.

If you ever shoot with a wide aperture you’ll notice that the area around your subject appears soft and blurred; this is known as bokeh.

If you shoot a subject in front of lights you’ll see that they too become blurred. Adding bokeh to images is a popular technique in many types of photography – especially portraits – and is a great technique for this time of year when incorporating lights.

First you need to find an area that has a lot of different lights; this could be street lamps, lights from an office block or even shop lights. Select an ISO of around 800 when shooting in low light and in aperture priority mode choose the widest aperture that your lens has. Prime lenses such as the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8STM or Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM A are ideal for this technique as they offer extremely wide apertures of f/1.8 and f/1.4

Make sure that you’ve got autofocus turned on. Position your model with the lights behind them, then focus on the model; you can of course use manual focus if preferred. You should start to notice the lights becoming small, soft spheres of colour. If they don’t look quite right ask your model to step forward; this will create more depth between the model and the lights. As you’ll want the light on your model’s face it’s a good idea to get them to stand under the street light or you could use an LED light such as the Manfrotto Lumimuse Series 3LED.

If you don’t fancy heading outdoors or to a busy area you can also do this technique with fairy lights or any other source of light at home; the more lights the better! Hang them somewhere in your house or even in your back garden and you can get some creative portraits of your friends and family.

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Winter-wildlife

We want to give you as many tips as possible to photograph wildlife this winter and luckily you don’t have to travel too far to spot photogenic wildlife, it could be right on your doorstep!

The thought of going outdoors for your photography when the UK weather is at such low temperatures might make you shudder – quite literally – but now is a great time to photograph wildlife. During the winter season the likes of squirrels, birds and foxes will be out and about searching for whatever food they can. By providing a source of food in your own back garden you’ll not only be helping wildlife, but it will also give you a great opportunity to photograph them.

Just remember that if you do start to feed wildlife, it’s a good idea to commit to keep it going throughout the winter as I will become a reliable source for them.

Blurred backdrop. Choose your lens’ widest aperture; this will allow you to create a soft blurred background and make your subject really stand out. A blurred background can also help to get rid of distracting elements that may make your image look cluttered.

Speedy Snapper. If you’ve ever spotted a squirrel in a tree you’ll notice how quickly they can scurry off out of sight. If your camera has continuous shooting mode – also known as burst mode – switch to this so you can capture multiple frames while holding down the shutter. This will enable you to capture a number of images before your subject disappears.

See clearly. Shooting through a window or conservatory will allow you to photograph from a distance and keep an eye on wildlife that comes into your garden. Make sure that the glass is clean and then place your lens right up against it; this will help to avoid there being reflections on your shots. You could also place a black piece of cloth or clothing around the lens to further help get rid of reflections.

Wildlife Geek. Patience is key when it comes to wildlife photography. It may take several days before wildlife appears and then it may take longer for you to get that perfect shot. Pay attention to your subject and monitor it’s behaviour so you can anticipate it’s movements and be ready for the shot.

Oh, so quiet. Some animals such as deer and birds can be more skittish than others and may be more aware of your presence, making it much harder to photograh them. If you’ve set up a food supply, bird table or feeder you may find it useful to shoot removetly. Mount your camera to a tripod, frame your shot and then head inside. Wireless triggers will allow you to fire the shutter, but many cameras that features Wi-Fi will allow you to do this via your mobile.

If you’re interested more in photographing Wildlife, we have a fantastic Academy British Wildlife photography course based in the British wildlife centre in Devon. Click here for more info.

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Take_a_new_view

Get incredible reach this winter with a fantastic pair of binoculars. We’ve got a huge range of binoculars to suit all needs and budgets, so why not try a spot of birdwatching and see what you can discover.

You might think that winter will be a difficult time for spotting wildlife, but many animals will be on the search for food and large flocks of birds such as waxwings migrate to the UK during winter. This makes it the perfect opportunity to get out and spot birds you may not see at other times in the year.

The RSPB has nature reserves across the UK, which are perfect for viewing a wide variety of wildlife in winter as well as other times of the year. At costal locations birds are off searching for food during low tide, so the best time to view them is high tide. It’s a good idea to find a viewing position an hour or so before your chosen bird is expected to come back from feeding so you can get great views of them returning.

Head to the town at dusk and you may spot starlings “murmurating” as they share information, keep warm and stick together for safety. Woodlands are great for spotting birds as they search for food. They may be difficult to see at first but if you listen for their calls to each other you’re sure to spy them.

Wrap up warm, grab yourself some binoculars and head outdoors this winter to enjoy wildlife in its natural habitat.

Compact binoculars:

Jessops 8-20×25 Compact zoom binoculars £19.99 This ultra-portable set of pocket binoculars feature a strong construction and sturdy armouring for a firm grip. With a modern stylish design and 20x magnification they are perfect for everyday use.

Jessops 8×25 compact waterproof binoculars £29.97 With 8x magnification you can easily see distant subjects with these fog and waterproof compact binoculars, perfect for winter. That’s to multi-coated optics, enjoy high quality bright and clear views.

Jessops 10×25 Compact waterproof binoculars £49.99 Soft, non-slip rubber-armoured coatings means you’ll be able to hold these binoculars easily even in wet weather and with their waterproof construction you can keep viewing in the rain. Zoom in close with 10x magnification.

Full size binoculars:

Jessops 10×50 Full size binoculars £24.99 Boasting a strong build quality and great optics, the Jessops 10×50 binoculars offer 10x magnification so you can see further afield. With a splash proof build there’s no need to worry about a drop of rain.

Jessops 10-30×50 full size zoom binoculars £39.99 Switch between a large panormanic view and getting close up to intricate details with these versatile 10-30×50 binoculars. See clearly that’s to multi-coated optics offering increased light transmission

Jessops 10×42 full size waterproof £49.99 Thanks to Bak-4 optics and multi-green coated ocular lenses these binoculars offer incredible brightness. Keep viewing in the rain that’s to their water-resistance and benefit from 10x magnification

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Winter-landscape-Recovered

The basic principles of landscape photography remain the same all year round, whatever the weather: frame up your shot properly, add foreground interest, and use the Rule of Thirds to place subjects within the frame… but there are some specific steps that – if followed – will make shooting winter landscapes easier and more enjoyable.

 

Plan your shoot

Put the hours in at home and you’re guaranteed to notice the difference when you’re out in the field. Planning your time will ensure you make the most of the beautiful light while it’s available, and have even more chance to capture your best ever landscape work.

 

Firstly: where is the sun coming up and setting? If you already know the scene you want to shoot, a quick look at a site or app like The Photographer’s Ephemeris will show you where the sun’s rays are due to rise and fall, so you can predict the way light will interact with the subjects before your camera – and, crucially, know what time the Golden Hour is due to kick off. This should save you hours of waiting around in the cold: particularly welcome during the pre-Christmas rush when your time is even more precious than usual!

 

Carry the right kit

Many photographers subscribe to a bag packing philosophy that’s best described as: “take the longest lens you have so you don’t come up short” – which does mean you’re always prepared, but can mean you’re carrying heavy optics with you.

 

If you’re troubled by heavy loads then you could consider switching to a mirrorless system like the Olympus OM-D or PEN series, or Fujifilm’s X cameras, which would enable you to take an entire range of lenses along for the ride at a fraction of the weight of the DSLR equivalents. Alternatively, a new bag could be the answer: getting one which spreads the weight across your back can help you feel better on long landscape excursions.

 

Make sure you pack a wide-angle lens to ensure you can capture the entirety of a scene: a telephoto can also help you crop into a shot to isolate details. A tripod will also come in handy to enable you to get your framing just so: ensure it’s light enough to carry but also quick to set up and stable enough to fully support your camera.

 

 

Get up earlyish (or stay up later)

Even though winter means sunrise hovers at around 8am and the sun dips at 4pm for most of us in the UK, an early start will give you more chance to get into position nice and early so as to make the most of the changing light. Check the weather forecast before you head out: don’t subject yourself to a rainy day if you can avoid it, and don’t miss those stunning frosty winter mornings!

 

Snow joke

If you’re lucky enough to be looking at a white Christmas then you’ll need to approach your picture-taking with even more care. The vast swathes of white snow can cause some cameras to over- or under-expose images, so watch those histograms to make sure you’re capturing as much detail as possible. White balances can also be confused by snowfall: experiment with different settings until you’re sure you’ve captured a true-to-life scene. And watch where you’re walking! Photographers strolling around while planning their photos can often realise too late that their tracks have disrupted the un-touched snow…

 

Keep your gear cosy

It’s not just you who needs to wrap up warm: your kit needs to be kept snug as well. Store spare batteries in your pockets to ensure they don’t lose their charge, and protect your kit from the harshest conditions with a weatherproof bag.

To help stop lens fogging and condensation when coming back in from the cold, ensure your kit’s zipped up in a bag and leave it alone for a few hours to gently and slowly come up to room temperature. Add an extra layer of protection by wrapping your camera in a plastic bag before coming back into the warm.

 

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shooting-in-the-snow

As the temperature drops this winter and the snow comes it can be tough to leave the warmth of your home, but wrap up because there are plenty of photo opportunities you won’t want to miss! Here are our tips to capturing great winter snowy shots:

  1. Find a subject from frozen spider webs to frozen puddles there are so many wintry subjects that will look great when you get up close with a macro lens. Even the frost covering your car windscreen can make for a great photo. For frosty objects you’ll need to shoot early morning or evening before the sun starts to melt it away.
  2. Choose your settings when shooting outdoors you’ll want to set an ISO of around 100 in bright weather or at least 400 if it’s a bit dull. Choose aperture priority mode and select your lens’s widest aperture; this will create a lovely soft-blur background and make your subject really stand out.
  3. Be ready and steady once you’ve set up your camera, mount it to a sturdy tripod, this will help to ensure that your camera is kept still during your exposure meaning your images will be free from camera shake. The use of a tripod will also mean you can get away with using a lower ISO for beautiful quality shots that can be blown up in size.
  4. Fill the frame Macro photography is all about getting close up. Use the rule of thirds and compose your shot so that your subject fit’s in a third of the image, or go extreme macro by filling your entire frame. If your camera has an LCD screen use live view to help compose your shot and review the image after shooting to check you’re happy with it.
  5. Alter your White Balance when shooting snow you might notice a slight difference in the colour on your photos compared to how you see the scene. This is because our cameras are confused by the block white colour, and we need to assist them by changing something called White Balance. If your photos are too bluey – you’ll need to choose the Sunshine or Shade setting. If your photos are too yellowy – you’ll need to choose the Tungsten or Incandescent option.
  6. A bit like our own sunglasses, Circular Polarisers which fit onto the front of your lens are a must have for removing reflections and saturating blue skies. This is a perfect addition for anyone who loves to ski/snowboard and will make your images really stand out and colours pop.
  7. Keep an eye out for footprints… if you’re taking photos of children or pets in the snow, avoid the marks left by them to maintain a nice and tidy scene, alternatively clean strides in the snow make for a great addition to your image.

Remember:

Look out for glistening spider webs in your garden or local park

Get up close to frosty leaves, search for different colours and sizes

Focus in close on sheets of ice to capture intricate details

Broken ice can look really great in macro with strong cracks too!

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