Tag: winter

Technique: Shooting in cold weather

Don’t put your X-series camera into hibernation for the winter, get outside and make the most of the conditions

We may be in the colder and darker months of the year, but there are still photo opportunities. The good news is Fujifilm X-series cameras are ideally equipped to make the most of the season with a range of features that will help you to get the best possible shots in all wintry conditions. As the temperature drops, there are a few extra considerations for your camera gear.

Power

Battery performance can be severely affected by low temperatures, so it’s worth buying an additional cell if you’re going to be out regularly in freezing conditions. Make sure all batteries are fully charged before you leave home and if they do die while you’re out, putting them somewhere warm – next to your body, ideally – can often grab a few extra frames.

Misting up

Going from a warm house or car into cold air will inevitably cause your X-series camera to mist up with condensation so, if possible, you should avoid subjecting your kit to large temperature changes. If it’s safe to do so, put your kit (without batteries) into your car a couple of hours before you go out so it can acclimatise. Similarly, putting your kit in a colder part of the house will help reduce condensation build-up – just don’t forget the batteries before you leave. The same applies when you come back in after a cold shoot. Reverse the process, placing them in a colder part of the house first, then gradually warming them up to room temperature. Sealing kit in a plastic bag with a silica gel pack can help. While you’re out, keep lens changes to a bare minimum or, better still, avoid them altogether. Should you get condensation, avoid the temptation to wipe it away and wait until it clears naturally. Unless you own a weather-proof X-T1, using a camera cover and keeping a chamois leather close to hand is a good way of keeping your kit dry.

And don’t forget to apply all these rules to yourself, too. Layer your clothing to stay warm and dry and be sure to take warm drinks and food to keep your batteries charged!

After some cold snaps? Try these…

Frosty close-ups

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This is the perfect subject matter for the XF60mm Macro lens on interchangeable lens X-series cameras or the Macro/Super Macro mode on a fixed lens model. Suitable objects abound so keep an eye out for interesting patterns and subjects that can add a welcome splash of colour.

Snow scenes

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For simplicity, select the Snow program setting. For more control, dial in some + exposure compensation – try +2 in sunny conditions – to avoid the snow rendering as grey sludge. Early morning starts are best and use the Velvia Film Simulation mode for vibrant blue skies.

Starry nights

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Grab your tripod and head out on a clear night. Consider using the open flash technique to illuminate foreground subjects. Avoid including the moon in the shot and use an exposure of at least 30 seconds to render some stars.

Mist and fog

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Look for distinct shapes and try using either the Soft Focus filter setting or increasing the ISO to introduce some grain. Shooting in black & white can be effective, as can fitting a telezoom such as the XF55-200mm to pick out more distant details. Check out this blog for more tips for shooting fog.

Winter portraits

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A great option, regardless of the weather. Hats, scarves, big coats and umbrellas all make great props. The XF56mm is the ideal portrait lens and be sure to make the most of that super wide aperture to throw backgrounds out of focus and deliver beautiful bokeh.

Capturing winter

Winter is a bit of a funny period in the UK, spring is full of life beginning and the promise of summer approaching, summer (when not raining) is probably our favourite time of year to be outside. Autumn has a charm about it as the leaves turn and forests transform into a vast palette of colours before winter takes over. The coldest and darkest season, many of us associate this with dark, damp days other than the Christmas period. For me though, I find that winter has a certain charm about it.

In this blog we’ll be looking at capturing winter in all its glory, from the more accessible sunrises to the magic of colder temperatures. Sunrise is my favourite time of day during the winter months, where the mornings are cold, often frosty and if you’re lucky misty. I prefer sunrise over sunset because generally you’ll have frost/mist to photograph (if the weather is suitable) which might have gone by sunset. The added bonus of winter sunrises is that they’re much more forgiving than other times of the year, an 8am start isn’t too disastrous! A few weeks ago I put together a blog on photographing fog. Check it out for a few hints and tips. 2014/12/mist-7.jpg2014/12/mist-2-16.jpg2014/12/mist-2.jpg As the day progresses and the sun gets higher (if you can see it!) the quality of light drops off somewhat, making wide landscape shots less dramatic. Two fun things to do if you’re out and about is: 1. Slow down – slowing down your shutter speed when doing big landscape shots can make an image really dynamic, even if the light isn’t bright and dramatic. One of the ways to exaggerate the length of your shutter speed is to use a neutral density filter to reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor and so extending your shutter speed. 2014/12/img_0357.jpg This shot was 125 seconds long. There is no detail left in the mist as it has moved so much in that 125 seconds, making the fog look a bit like a white ribbon. 2. Focus on detail – winter is a great time for capturing the details of nature. From the hard frost on the ground to the last leaves hanging on a tree, detail shots in conjunction with some other, wider shots can really help capture the essence of winter as part of a photoessay. 2014/12/img_03471.jpg2014/12/img_0355.jpg2014/12/img_0352.jpg2014/12/img_0358.jpg All taken with the X100s + TCL-X100 (in love with this combo). For this walk I limited myself to only this combo so I focused on composing images for that focal length. This is a good way to try and improve creativity and compositional skills. As the day draws to a close then you can begin to take advantage of the “magic hour”. If I have a free afternoon then what I like to do is go on a walk and end up in a nice location for sunset. This is what I recently did in the Peak District, walking a circuit from Hathersage up to Stanage Edge and Higgar Torr before heading back down to Hathersage. This was wonderful, about 6 miles and a great way to spend an afternoon.2014/12/img_0296.jpg 2014/12/img_0270.jpg 2014/12/img_0259.jpg 2014/12/img_0253.jpg 2014/12/img_0268.jpg As I went along I was watching how the light changed as the sun came lower and how this affected the dramatic scenes in front of me. It was very interesting to see how the landscape evolved with the setting sun. Now we have been lucky enough to have had some snow recently, this is wonderful for pictures. Snow can take a landscape that you might see everyday and turn it into something magical. However, snow can be a little difficult to meter. This is where using the EVFs on X-Series cameras can be really beneficial, as you can see exactly how your camera has metered and adjust the exposure compensation accordingly. 2014/12/img_0202.jpg2014/12/img_0137.jpg2014/12/img_0146.jpg2014/12/img_0145.jpg Finally if you’re brave enough (I haven’t been so far) then you can get out on a cold winters night and try some star photography, especially since so much of the day is now dark. Remember that the most important things are to stay warm, be sensible, check roads and the forecast. 2014/12/img_0123.jpg Roads can be very dangerous so look after yourself especially if you’re going out in the early hours. I hope this has been interesting and given you a few ideas on how to photograph the great outdoors during the winter months. Why not share with us your results via Fujifilm UK’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

Tips on shooting in the winter

By David Cleland

Winter is a great season for photography and it is always worth forcing yourself to think differently. In my opinion, winter landscapes can be more about the narrative of the image than the technical aspects of the shot.

David Cleland

1. Visit your Favourite Locations in the Snow

When the Snow descends, think of the already beautiful locations you know and pay them a visit. This is a photograph Hillsborough Church, Co Down transformed under a blanket of snow. It also should be noted that you don’t have to shoot with a wide-angle lens to capture landscape images as this photo was shot at around 75mm.

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2. Use the Evening or morning light.

The sun is lower in winter and can cast long shadows or create a warm winter glows (especially in the evening). This image was shot using the X20 camera on a cold day in December on Tyrella Beach, County Down. On visiting my local beach during a winter weekend I discovered a range of activities I wasn’t expecting.

My advice is to pack a camera and head for the coast on a day that it would be the last place you would think of visiting as it might amaze you what you will find.

For low light photography you might need to increase your ISO, the Fujifilm range offer a capped auto ISO mode which can be very handy for outdoor photography during the winter months.  I tend to shoot auto ISO capped at 3200.

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3.  Use Winter to create dramatic scenes

The winter season can really create as sense of drama. This old ruin in County Donegal is made even scarier by the cold winter mountains in the background and the use of long exposure photography to make the sky even more dramatic.

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4. Shoot what you would tell people

During April, Northern Ireland saw the largest snow fall in decades. Roads were closed for days and the countryside was transformed to pure white. I took this shot with the X100s to document the level of the snow against some farm fencing. It wasn’t overly interesting at the time but as we look back it is great to have photos of just how much snow had fallen.  Close up shots against the reflecting snow can be a challenge, using ‘Spot metering’ can bring the clarity and detail to your main subject.

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5. Shoot Contrasting Landscapes

It can be great to head out on a sunny day after a snowfall. This image was shot with the X100s on the Murlough Bay path (County Down).  It was sunny which created an interesting contrast against the snow-covered Mourne Mountains.

The trick is to have a camera with you on your winter adventures so you document what you discover. I tend to pack the X100s wherever we go and it is amazing just how many images I managed to capture on days when photography was the least of my objectives.

About David

David Cleland is a documentary and landscape photography from Ireland. To see more of his work you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe to his blog.