Winter is a wonderful season for photography, especially in the UK. The landscape transforms into a magical wonderland, the light is soft and warm, and the skies are dramatic and colourful. Whether you want to photograph snowy scenes, frosty mornings, or winter wildlife, there are plenty of opportunities to capture stunning images. In this blog post, I will share some tips and ideas on how to make the most of winter photography in the UK.
The UK has many beautiful places to photograph in winter, from the rugged mountains of Scotland to the charming villages of England. Some of the best locations are:
Peak District, England: We are blessed to be at the edge of the Peak District which is a popular destination for photographers all year round, but it has a special charm in winter. The reservoirs reflect the changing colours of the sky, the hills are covered in frost, and the trees are bare and elegant. You can also explore the picturesque towns and villages, such as Castleton, Hathersage and Buxton.
Glencoe, Scotland: This is one of the most iconic and dramatic landscapes in the UK, and it looks even more stunning in winter. The snow-capped peaks, frozen waterfalls, and misty valleys create a breathtaking backdrop for your photos. You can also find some interesting subjects, such as red deer, mountain hares, and golden eagles.
Snowdonia, Wales: Snowdonia is a paradise for landscape photographers, with its majestic mountains, serene lakes, and cascading waterfalls. In winter, the scenery becomes even more dramatic, with snow and ice adding contrast and texture. You can also photograph some of the historic castles, such as Caernarfon, Conwy, and Harlech.
Norfolk, England: Norfolk is a great place to photograph winter wildlife, especially birds. The Norfolk coast is home to thousands of migratory and resident birds, such as geese, swans, ducks, and waders. You can also visit the Norfolk Broads, a network of rivers and lakes that host a variety of wildlife, such as otters, kingfishers, and bitterns.
Winter photography requires some planning and preparation, as the weather can be unpredictable and challenging. Here are some things to consider before you head out:
Winter photography can be challenging, as the snow and ice can fool your camera’s metering and white balance systems. Here are some tips on how to adjust your settings and get the best results:
Exposure: The snow and ice can reflect a lot of light, making your camera think that the scene is brighter than it actually is. This can result in underexposed images, with grey and dull snow. To avoid this, you can use the exposure compensation feature of your camera and add some positive exposure, such as +1 or +2 stops. You can also use the histogram and the highlight alert (blinkies) of your camera to check the exposure and avoid clipping the highlights or the shadows.
White balance: The snow and ice can also affect the colour temperature of the scene, making your images look too blue or too yellow. To avoid this, you can use the white balance feature of your camera and choose a preset or a custom setting that matches the lighting conditions. You can also use a grey card or a white piece of paper to set the white balance manually. Alternatively, you can shoot in RAW format and adjust the white balance later in post-processing.
Focus: The snow and ice can also make it difficult for your camera to focus, as they lack contrast and detail. To avoid this, you can use the manual focus feature of your camera and focus on a specific point or area that has some texture or colour. You can also use the live view or the magnification feature of your camera to check the focus and fine-tune it. Alternatively, you can use the hyperfocal distance technique and set the focus at a distance that maximises the depth of field and the sharpness of the scene.
Winter photography can be creative, as the snow and ice can create interesting shapes, patterns, and textures. Here are some tips on how to compose your images and make them more appealing:
Use the rule of thirds: The rule of thirds is a simple and effective way to compose your images. You can divide the frame into nine equal parts, using two horizontal and two vertical lines. You can then place the main subject or the horizon along one of the lines, or at one of the intersections, to create a balanced and harmonious image.
Use leading lines: Leading lines are lines that guide the viewer’s eye towards the main subject or the focal point of the image. You can use natural or man-made elements, such as roads, fences, rivers, or tracks, to create leading lines. You can also use the perspective and the angle of view to create leading lines, such as converging or diagonal lines.
Use frames: Frames are elements that surround or enclose the main subject or the focal point of the image. You can use natural or man-made elements, such as trees, branches, windows, or arches, to create frames. Frames can help you isolate the subject, draw attention to it, and add depth and context to the image.
Use negative space: Negative space is the empty or blank area around the main subject or the focal point of the image. You can use the sky, the snow, or the ice to create negative space. Negative space can help you simplify the image, emphasise the subject, and create a sense of scale and contrast.
Winter photography can be fun and rewarding.
Some of our favourite winter kit
Canon R7 - Lightweight and weather sealed, perfect for Landscapes and wildlife photography.
Mindshift Backlight Backpack - Lightweight and built for comfort while trekking. Backpacks are our favourite type of bag whilst out in the countryside.
Benro Bat Carbon fibre tripod - When looking for a lightweight tripod for trekking or hiking, Carbon Fibre is probably your best option. This tripod is compact, but can take up to 10kg of camera load.