Stories Of The Everyday - Winter Light

You’ve charged your camera battery, cleared your memory card, made your flask of tea, and you’re excited about the photos you’re going to take. And then you hit overwhelm with the possibilities of all the images you could or should take. And sometimes you don’t even take one image.

We’ve been there too!

And that’s why we wanted to give a helping hand. Having a theme can often really help make that shift, get your finger on the shutter, and get you feeling creative. We know some of you will have made intentions for your photography for 2019, and we don’t want you to be put off by the cold dark days of winter, we hope you’ll embrace them, and start, (or carry on) that relationship with your camera. As some of you know, we’ve been running our Stories of the Everyday hashtag on Instagram for a few years. It’s a lovely community, growing every week, and we share visual stories from around the world every Friday. We’ll keep doing this, but we also wanted to introduce a monthly theme, to help with that motivation, and maybe help you to build a portfolio of shots with a similar feel. So we’re going to launch a theme until the end of January, right now! And it’s…

Winter Light

You don’t even have to step outside if you’re in hibernation mode and can’t entertain getting out of your onsie! Of course if you did want to take photos in the great outdoors and soak that winter light and air in, you may want to think about the onsie. There will be 12 themes this year. We’re a bit late launching this one, but they will be at the start of every month. The hashtag on Instagram for Jan will be #storiesoftheeveryday_winterlight. At the end of every month, we’ll showcase a selection of shots in our blog. Here’s a bit of inspiration if you’re thinking about what to do. We love using WINDOW LIGHT, so let’s start there, and it’s a light source we all have.

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We like the subject (this can be a person or an object) to be facing the window, the light source, and we take the photo from one side. We shoot in manual, so we expose for the highlights in a shot so we can get those darker backgrounds. It’s something worth experimenting with if you’re feeling comfortable with those settings. You can usually achieve this darker background by making your shutter speed faster.

If shooting portraits maybe isn’t your thing, the same principles apply to still life subjects too…

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You can see where the light source is, to the left of the lemon, as there is a subtle shadow to the right of it. Also, watch out for your backgrounds and maybe declutter. I decided I wanted to keep those objects in the background as I liked the yellow tones mirrored. On all three of these window light shots, it was a pretty grizzly day outside.

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And then if we go outdoors, get wrapped up and embrace what the day brings! This shot was taking in January on a variable day. The wintry sun had just gone behind the clouds. If the light is quite flat like this, I often get the subject to look straight at me.

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You’ve probably heard of backlight. This does exactly what it says on the tin, it backlights your subject matter. The sun is low in the sky at this time of year, but the sweet spot is to be found in those golden hours. You can see here that there is lens flare on the photo, this can happen when you’re shooting directly into the sun. This is personal taste, and we love a bit of it.

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Think about taking your photos from different perspectives.

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It’s fun trying to capture steam rising from a cup of tea using backlight, both indoors and out. If you try it indoors, face the window directly and have the cup between you and the light. And if you take it outdoors, fingerless gloves are a great idea, you can get to all your dials and buttons on the camera, and then warm the ends of your fingers up on your cuppa.

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And then there are the magic pockets of light. Sometimes on a staircase, sometimes through the trees, sometimes like a spotlight in an indoor market…

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Or on your staircase. I took this one with my phone.

We hope there are a few ideas here you’d like to try out. I think January can be the hardest month for a lot of people and this is just a small way to try and get you using your cameras. And remember, don’t give yourself a hard time! We’ll have another theme starting in February. Remember to tag your photos with #storiesoftheeveryday_winterlight on Instagram, and we will share your photos in a post. And if you just want to see what other folk are up to, just follow the hashtag. We hope this blog helps a little.

In December, we ran a Winter Light workshop in a beautiful Yorkshire home. The day was particularly grizzly outdoors, and my aim was to show our workshoppers what light they can play with indoors even on the grimiest of days. I’ve put a selection of their shots below. I ended up in quite a few photos myself as you can see (I actually quite enjoyed being in front of the camera). You might get a few more ideas from these. Thanks to Julie, Heather, Jess and Sarah for the photos.

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Whatever you experiment with, we hope you have fun! We’re excited to see what you all come up with. And if you’d like to find out about any of our retreats and mentoring, you can take a look here.

All the best, Sarah and Suzi x

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