With fewer hours of daylight and lower visibility, photo opportunities might seem more limited in the autumn and winter. But with the right perspective, the colder seasons can present opportunities to capture more striking and atmospheric images than are possible on cloudless summer days.
We know that the appeal of getting outside with your camera can drop as the warm, sunny days dwindle, but getting out and about for some (socially distanced) fresh air and exercise has never been more important.
So, come rain or come shine, next time you’re out, bring your camera and take note of our tips below for a touch of inspiration.
Making the most of gloomy weather
One of the best things about autumn and winter photography is that these seasons introduce new colour palettes to play with.
Whether it’s the excitement of the city’s bright neon reflecting in roadside puddles, the soft hues of a snowy day or the vibrant reds and golds of autumn, there are new colours to capture in the environment and new moods to create. Even a grey, foggy day can become a moody, mysterious image with the right framing.
To properly capture this, pay attention to your surroundings and what will looks good in a photo. For example, when the evening draws in early, there are often synthetic blue and orange hues in the city, which make for a dynamic contrast. Because orange and blue are opposite each other in the colour wheel, together they please our natural affinity for contrasts.
In the same vein, if the weather’s snowy, then there are unique conditions to capture. The white of the snow helps to create an image that’s gentle to the eye and it makes splashes of colour pop in contrast – for example, by making a red winter berry or an orange sunset look resplendent.
Key camera settings
Getting the perfect shot might mean you need different camera settings to those you’d use on a bright, sunny day. Here are some key tactics to try.
- Reduce the shutter speed for an artistic blur This will mean that moving objects such as drops of rain, falling snowdrops or flowing rivers will move quicker than the camera will take the photo. This can produce an artistic blur, showing the movement of the environment and really bringing your photos to life.
- Or increase the shutter speed to crystalise rain drops on a rainy day A very fast shutter speed can help you capture falling rain, so drops appear frozen in mid air.
- Invest in a camera with good image stabilisation This will help if the weather is biting and your hands are shaking. Modern cameras are good at minimising camera shake and high-end ones have complex systems within them which let the sensor move around to counteract movement.
- Consider a macro lens to capture small details in full-sized glory This will make tiny objects look larger than life in photos. The sorts of details you could capture include frozen water drops, frosty objects in the early morning, tiny berries and more. All you need to do is attach the lens to your interchangeable lens camera and get close to the subject.
- Consider a black and white filter This can be a good option if you’re struggling with muted colours. By rendering a photo black and white you call attention to the shapes in it, which is great for dramatic shots, shots of intricate details and photos on those days where the natural colours are decidedly sludgy.
What to do when your camera gets wet
Fortunately, your camera is unlikely to be damaged by a little rain, even if you briefly get caught in a storm.
But an extended, torrential deluge may be a different matter and unless you have a waterproof camera with an armour-like casing, it could be damaged by very hostile conditions. Some of our tips to protect your valuable investment include:
- Use a camera lens hood. These wrap around your lens to protect them from bad conditions and they don’t get in the way of your shot. They can actually help you, especially if rain keeps getting on your lens, obstructing or blurring your photo.
- Camera rain covers shroud your whole camera in something that looks like a poncho, protecting the whole device.
- If you’re using a tripod, cover your station with an umbrella by affixing an umbrella clip to the stem. If you’re on the go, then this is where smaller cameras can come handy in a pinch, because they can be operated in one hand while you hold your umbrella with the other.
Great cameras for bad weather photography
If you want a good camera, you’re spoiled for choice in 2020. There are plenty of great models from brands, including Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Sony and more.
Here, we’ve pulled out the key features of a couple of popular models as a starting point – a high-end mirrorless camera and a more affordable compact camera. Click through to our expert reviews to find out if they will deliver sensational shots whatever the weather.
Nikon Z 50 mirrorless camera, £950
As a high-end camera for less than £1,000, the Z 50 is a temping proposition.
It’s an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with the specs to serve you well in pretty much any scenario, including low-light winter conditions.
One of the main advantages that any DSLR or mirrorless camera has over compact alternatives is the larger sensors. This means they can take in more light, which is vital on gloomier days. They also tend to come with large ISO ranges to brighten images.
Is this camera worth spending the best part of a grand on? Find out in our expert Nikon Z 50 review.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX15 compact camera, £400
With a single, fixed lens, compact cameras typically can’t produce the exceptional quality of the best high-end DSLR or mirrorless cameras.
That said, modern compact cameras have become very good at offering control to their users. Although they boast smaller sensors and fewer lens options, they are still capable of taking great snaps given the chance.
The DMC-LX15 is one of the cheaper cameras you can buy. Billed as an enthusiast’s compact, this small camera can be easily popped into a jacket pocket. It has a 20Mp 1-inch sized sensor, up to 3x optical zoom, and can take 4K video and stills. It also has image stabilisation features that could come in handy during cold snaps.
One disadvantage is that it lacks a viewfinder, which some may find an annoying omission.
Discover whether its other assets make up for this lack in our Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX15review.