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You may be noticing the new look to the site. It’s the reason there hasn’t been much activity on the blog of late as I’ve been busy working on the update.

The new look is all thanks to the upgrade to version 3 of ProPhotoBlogs wordpress template software. I was a beta tester for the template and as usual the support has been awesome and Jared has worked so hard on this new improved version. Any photographers out there looking for a wordpress template would do well to take a look. Some great new features were added. Flash galleries that I can now use in my posts, and also in my Portfolio pages to show off my work. Also they added the cool sliding tabs that you see on the left of the page. There are two sliders, one showing my last 5 Twitter tweets, and a second one linking to the Stewardson Photography Facebook fan page so feel free to follow me or become a fan!

As a follow up to the BBC Berkshire slot this morning here a my top ten tips and tricks for better winter photos. πŸ™‚

1. Wrap up warm!

Easily overlooked, but it’s going to be cold out there. If you’re going to be out for a while taking photos, remember you’re not moving about much for a lot of the time while you line up that shot. So gloves, hat, a good warm coat, and some good sturdy boots. Layering clothes is best, and a couple of pairs of socks in some good walking boots will ensure you’re comfortable and have some of that all important grip.

2. Safety first.

Make sure someone knows where you’re going, how long you’re likely to be, and they have your mobile number.

3. Equipment.

Obviously this depends on what you own, and what you’re out photographing. But if you have a tripod, make sure you pack that. Also if you’ve bought some filters for your lenses pack those too.

Also in your bag make sure you have a lens cloth for wiping any water spots off the lens, and some plastic bags plus elastic bands. You can use the plastic bags to put the camera in, and the elastic band to close the opening of the bag around the barrel of the lens as a make-shift barrier from water.

Batteries don’t last as long in the cold so take a spare if you can. For best results keep the battery in your pocket to keep it warm. Try not to keep putting the camera in and out of your pocket though. The change in temperature may just cause condensation on the lens, the best cure for this is to wait until the condensation clears in the open air.

4. Getting the perfect exposure.

It’s time to hit the camera manual for this one. Find out if your camera allows you to set “Exposure Compensation”. Cameras work out the write exposure for a scene using the built in meter. Now these meters are designed to work out the exposure based on everything being roughly 18% grey. Now if the photo you’re taking is mostly snow the camera thinks it’s lighter than it is, so under-exposes. So what you end up with is a dark picture with grey snow. Not the desired effect.

So try setting the exposure compensation to +0.5EV or even +1EV and you should see the results look much more natural.

Some cameras have an option of β€œsnow shooting mode” if so this is the perfect setting to use.

5. Shoot in the “Golden Hours”.

For the best results shoot early morning or mid-late afternoon. In winter this means 8-9am 3-4:30pm for the best results. The light is warmer and gives a scene more colour. Shooting first thing means untouched natural looking snow, also with clear blue skys watch out for some great sunsets! As in the shot below, look for the sun streaking through trees to create interesting shadows.

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6. Cut out the glare.

If you have one, try putting a UV filter on the lens. This will help cut down glare off the white snow.

7. Experiment with Flash.

If it’s snowing, flash may be the last thing you want, as the flash bouncing off the snowflakes, so try with it off. But experiment, try with it on for some shots too, you never know what may happen. In fact for shots without snow falling it adds extra light to the closer details in the frame balancing against the bright background.

8. Add foreground interest.

When taking a landscape photo try adding something in the photo to drag your eye into the shot. If you’re taking a photo of a frozen lake, try to get that branch fallen from the tree in shot. Or how about that colourful flower in an otherwise snowy scene? Below is an example of using foreground interest, in this case a fallen branch on the frozen lake.

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9. Rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds is a description of the idea of how a photograph should be split to give the best composition. The idea is to divide the frame horizontally and vertically using 2 lines on each equally spaced. This gives 4 intersections. The concept is that you should place significant objects in the photo on the intersections and lines. So the horizon on the bottom line so the ground only takes up the bottom 3rd of the frame. Many cameras allow you to turn on a feature often known as “gridlines” to aid with this. Taking the previous shot as an example, see how the horizon lines up with the top line of thirds and the tree is located around the bottom right intersection of the lines.

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10. Nature Etiquette.

The most important rule of photography… β€œtake only photographs, leave only footprints”

  • Pete Connolly - January 9, 2010 - 8:22 am

    Hi Peter

    Just heard your piece of BBC Berkshire. Good tips. I’m off to get a few shots around here in West Berks. If only the sun would come out to give a bit of nice light – it’s dull and grey right now. Take it easy.

  • Pete - January 9, 2010 - 8:31 am

    Glad you found the tips useful. Enjoy yourself!

As promised ( and to stop the nagging ) here are some photos taken on Alex’s first Christmas.

First Christmas, first ever Christmas present…

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Pink!?! Mummy I’m not a girl…

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Right… next!

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Never mind the thing inside… Paper is FUN!

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Liking it, they’re getting bigger…

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WOW yeah! Just what I always wanted… No idea what it is, but I always wanted one!

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Light snack between presents.

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OK mummy, what do you call this? I mean it’s not secret santa…

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Hmmm now then, who to call first.

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Dinner time!

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Who’d have guessed… My wife can take a photo too! ( Beginners luck? )

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Chilling after the Christmas meal.

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So 2009 is now been and gone, and 2010 ( or twenty ten as everyone is calling it now ) is upon us.

2009 was a busy year for us, what with seeing 2009 New Year in Big Apple style ( Not sure I ever posted any of my NYC shots. oops ), and Alex being born. I have to say, my photography, personal projects, got pushed out due to lack of time. But Christmas was fantastic, spending Alex’s first Christmas with him and my beautiful wife really was special.

I don’t do Resolutions as such, nobody ever really sticks to them, but I do set myself goals. So this year I have a few…

1. Shoot more – I love taking photos, and I’ve not done as much as I wanted over the last year. So this year I’m going to shoot more, much more. To aid this I bought myself a Panasonic GF-1 camera. It’s small, light, and since it has a decent sized sensor takes excellent photos. It goes everywhere with me.

2. Build my wedding business – Well that goes without saying. I’ve already got booked just as many weddings as I shot last year. That’s a good start but I’m going for more.

3. Spend lots of time with Becky and Alex – We’re already planning which BTCC rounds we can go to.

4. Be more organised – I’m not so good at being organised, so I want to sort that out, and make more use of my time.

5. Blog more – I don’t blog enough, but hopefully that will change. I’m working on a re-design of the site using the new ProPhoto V3 WordPress template which should be all sorted soon. Also I’ll be blogging Alex’s first Christmas very soon.

I think that will do for now, otherwise I’ll never meet all the targets.

Just as a last thought on this post. And they say a picture paints a thousand words so here goes…

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( A shot from a wedding a while back, but to the point )

So I think we can safely say we had some snow πŸ™‚

We found out Reading was pretty much gridlocked via facebook as we were in Leicester. The pets all locked up at home overnight got us worried as we weren’t sure whether we’d get back home the next day. But we set off in the morning after calling friends for a weather report. We got home safe and sound a couple of hours later after some hair-raising trips down the local roads.

The next day I walked into Woodley via Southlake to have a look at the snow. The lake was completely frozen. I felt sorry for the Heron staring into the ice wishing he could get his dinner.

Anyway I took my GF1 with me and took some photos around the lake.

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Quite pleased with the results form the GF1, really very nice to be able to carry a camera everywhere with it being so small.

Shame is it’s raining now, so by the morning we probably wont have any snow πŸ™

While his mum was out doing Orchestra stuff today I decided to get the camera out for another session of photos. Alex was in a smilie mood in his Jumperoo but as usual, the second the camera came out the smiles were no where to be seen. This time though we got this cheeky look…

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And then this one while he was watching TV, shhhh don’t tell mummy Alex…

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  • Emma Jones - October 24, 2009 - 8:14 pm

    He is the cutest little boy ever xx