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How to Master Street Photography in the Winter

A Guide to Winter Street Photography

Street photography is a fascinating genre that captures the candid moments of everyday life. It can also be a challenging one, especially in the UK winter, when the weather is cold, wet, and dark. However, winter also offers some unique opportunities to create stunning street images, with its dramatic light, interesting shadows, and festive atmosphere. In this blog post, I will share some tips and ideas on how to make the most of street photography in the UK winter.

1. Embrace the bad weather

Don’t let the rain or snow stop you from going out and shooting. Bad weather can add excitement and drama to your street photos, as well as create some beautiful reflections and textures. You can capture people’s reactions to the weather, such as running, jumping, or hiding under umbrellas. You can also use the rain or snow as a backdrop or a foreground element, to create contrast and depth.

To protect yourself and your gear from the elements, you need to dress warmly and pack the right equipment. You can wear layers of clothing, a hat, a scarf, and gloves, and bring an umbrella or a raincoat. You can also use a weather-sealed camera and lens, or cover them with a plastic bag or a rain sleeve. You can also bring a microfiber cloth or a lens hood, to wipe off any water droplets from your lens.

It is important when shooting out in wet that your camera stays protected, some cameras are weather sealed like the Fujifilm X-T5 or Fujiflm X100V (with kit) or small enough to fit in a pocket to keep dry, Ricoh GR III/GR IIIX

2. Use a flash

One of the advantages of winter is that it gets dark early, which means you can use a flash to create some interesting effects. A flash can help you freeze the action, illuminate the subject, and create a dramatic mood. You can use an on-camera flash, or an off-camera flash with a wireless trigger or a cable. You can also use a flash diffuser or a bounce card, to soften the light and avoid harsh shadows.

When using a flash, you need to be careful not to blind or annoy your subjects, as well as to balance the exposure and the white balance. You can use the flash in manual mode, and adjust the power and the distance according to the ambient light and the effect you want. You can also use the flash in rear-curtain sync mode, which fires the flash at the end of the exposure, creating a motion blur effect. You can also adjust the white balance to match the colour temperature of the flash and the ambient light, or use a colour gel to create a colour contrast.

3. Search out Markets and Events

Markets and Events are full of people, which makes them ideal for street photography. You can capture the expressions and emotions of the people, as well as the details and the atmosphere of the markets. You can also find some interesting subjects, such as street performers, vendors, or shoppers.

To photograph the markets and events, you need to be aware of the light and the crowd. You can use a wide-angle lens, to capture the whole scene and the context. You can also use a telephoto lens, to isolate the details and the people. You can also use a tripod, to create long exposures and capture the movement and the light trails. You can also use a high ISO, to cope with the low light and the fast action. ISO performance in Digital Cameras is so good that even in the winter darkness they are able to grab great qulity images, cameras like the Sony A7 IV or Canon R8 can practically see in the dark.

4. Experiment with different compositions

Winter can also be a great time to experiment with different compositions and perspectives, as the snow and ice can create some interesting shapes, patterns, and textures. You can use the rule of thirds, to create a balanced and harmonious image. You can also use leading lines, to guide the viewer’s eye towards the main subject or the focal point. You can also use frames, to surround or enclose the subject and add depth and context. You can also use negative space, to simplify the image and emphasise the subject.

To create different compositions, you need to be creative and observant. You can look for natural or man-made elements, such as roads, fences, rivers, or tracks, to create leading lines. You can also look for natural or man-made elements, such as trees, branches, windows, or arches, to create frames. You can also look for the sky, the snow, or the ice, to create negative space. You could also focus on details and detail compositions. 


5. Have fun and be creative

The most important tip for street photography in the UK winter is to have fun and be creative. Winter can be a challenging season, but it can also be a rewarding one, if you are willing to explore and experiment. You can try different techniques, such as panning, zooming, or multiple exposures, to create some unique effects. You can also try different genres, such as portrait, landscape, or abstract, to create some variety. You can also try different themes, such as humour, emotion, or mystery, to create some stories.

To have fun and be creative, you need to be open-minded and curious. You can look for the unusual and the unexpected, as well as the ordinary and the familiar. You can also look for the beauty and the drama, as well as the ugliness and the boredom. You can also look for the contrasts and the similarities, as well as the differences and the connections. You can also look for the light and the dark, as well as the colours and the tones.

6. Shoot on film

There are plenty of options for dull days when shooting on film, but aim for something with a higher ISO (400 and above) on a really dull day you will probably need ISO 400, 800 or even 1600. Embrace the grain!

Kodak Tri-X pushed to ISO 800

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it useful. Street photography in the winter can be a wonderful experience, if you are prepared and motivated. I encourage you to go out and shoot, and share your results with me. Happy shooting!

All images by Darren O'Brien

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by Darren O'Brien for Harrison Cameras on 12/01/2024


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