Winter in the mid-west is unpredictable to say the least. A few days ago it was gorgeous. Temps rose to almost 60 degrees. The sun was shining. I think I even heard a few birds chirping. I was so excited about the great weather I strapped on my camera and headed out to test out a new camera. The next day, however, was a different story. The sky was grey and gloomy. Within one hour we had about an inch of snow on the ground.
It was amazing how easily cabin fever can set in. It not only drains you of energy, but also of creativity. So how do you find your creative mojo in the midst of winter’s ugly grip? Well, we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps to bring you a few ideas.
Find a new angle. Try photographing something in your house at a totally different angle than you normally view it. Shoot from a very high or super low angle. The change in your point of view can spark creativity and help you see the world in a whole new way. So many cameras have variable angle screens that capturing an image is easier than ever before.
Use window light. We all know that using a camera’s built-in flash can lead to some unsightly images. Why not turn off the flash and use what nature gave us? Window light can be an amazingly beautiful directional lighting source. Positioning you subject at a 3/4 angle facing the light will reduce heavy shadowing, but give you depth to your image. Pulling your subject away from walls and shooting at a wide open aperture like f2.8 or higher will render your background soft and out of focus. But don’t be afraid to play around with your subject. Sometimes the best images come when you choose to ignore the rules and get creative.
Wander out into the weather. Falling snow can create a magical effect with your images. It can evoke childhood memories or produce dreamy scenes. Take a moment to see the world as you did when you were a child. Catch a snowflake with your tongue or toss a snowball, but just remember to protect your camera. Some cameras are weather sealed and many manufacturers sell housings to protect your gear. But if you want a quick solution look no further than your kitchen or bathroom. Ziploc bags and shower caps make great camera covers in a light snow or rain.
Explore the world of macro. A remarkable world lives right within our reach, but so many of us never realize it’s there. Macro photography is simpler than ever before. So many compact cameras have incredible macro features — some allowing the user to be just centimeters away from their subject. Expand your creativity by challenging yourself to only shoot in macro for a day. Seeing the world from this perspective can make you realize the intricacy of life.
Find a new location. Feel like you are trapped between 4 walls? Discover a park or museum near you. Walk into a florist or seek out a miniature train display. Hang out a local coffee shop with a great view of the street. Or find a historical landmark near your home. A change of scenery can spark creativity and give you a new subject to photograph.
Or embrace the blues-the color blue, that is. Have some fun with your images. Spice up your pics with color or another neat effect. Try some post production software like Snapseed, Lightroom, Corel PaintShop Pro X5, Photoshop CS6 or Photoshop Touch. Ranging in price from free to $700 or more, photo editing software can breathe new light into your images. Check out the difference between the out-of-camera image taken on the left with the edited version on the right. With a few minutes spent in Snapseed, I was able to transform the perfectly acceptable image into one that commands attention.
Programs like the Photoshop Touch app make editing on your iPad a synch. And for less than $10 it’s a steal! Want massive control over editing your images? Corel PaintShop Pro X5 is currently only $79.99 and reviewed very well. Adobe Lightroom is also a great program for professionals and amateurs that want to explore the use of presets and manual exposure control. For only $150, Lightroom offers users plenty of features for creative control. All of the other images in this post were edited in Lightroom.
We would love to see some of your winter images. Head over to our forum and share your thoughts and pictures with us!