If you live in an area that has two or four seasons, then you know what it's like to feel the doldrums of between-season photography. Right now in many parts of the world, trees are bare, the color gone, and it's too soon for the punch of snowscapes to compensate. If you're outdoors, everything through the lens looks blah. The same goes for the winter to spring transition. Snow melts to muddy messes and the buds of spring don't quite show themselves yet. These are the times when you need to think outside the box, 'er lens.
When you have a blank canvas, paint your own painting. When it comes to a flat landscape, add your own interesting element. In this image, the red umbrella adds just enough splash of red to an otherwise boring shot of water and a bare tree. Consider bringing some kind of prop, like the umbrella, to add to your outdoor shot. Sometimes they'll be available for you anyway, you just have to keep an eye out for them.
Work with Light
No matter what time of year, we know that morning and evening light adds drama to an image. This shot of mist on a lake is the perfect example of how lighting and fog can play a role in creating interest. Fog is also pretty common during these transitional seasons since the temperatures can vary greatly. You've gotta be up and out early to catch it's drama with the sunrise, though.
Put the Camera Down
Between-seasons is a great time to put your camera down for a bit. Send it out to get cleaned and spend your time getting organized, and by that I mean the images on your computer. I've met photographers who have all of their images in one folder with no sense or sensibility to it. It's impossible for them to scroll through hundreds or thousands of images to find the ones they want. I'm always baffled by how they manage. It might take time to create folders and move images around, but in the long run, it will save so much time. If this is you, spend a weekend creating folders that make sense and move the images to them.
Some photographers, naturally, have argued that they simply don't know how to create new folders and move their pictures from one spot to another. I know that even in this age of technology there are people who are less adept at using a keyboard, let alone navigating their programs. A simple continuing education class one weekend at your local college would be worth the investment in this case. Even better, recruit a friend, buy a pizza and let them show you! It's easier than ever to move and name folders and files once you learn how to do it. You'll be doing yourself a huge favor by getting caught up and the in-person attention, be it a class or a friend, will help.
Try a New Genre
If landscape is your main passion, but you want to venture into other areas, this is the best time to try a new genre. Brush up on doing portraits by grabbing a few friends for a shoot in the park. If your friends are camera shy, head out and find a rugby match. Those guys aren't the least bit shy and the facial expressions and action alone will lead to some fun photos. The bare trees behind them simply don't matter when you've got a scrum going on! Mud flinging and the striped jerseys add flavor and color. Trust me, rugby is one of the best sports to photograph. Bonus: you might be able to sell prints to the players. Bring a business card!
Looking for something a little more low-key and maybe still life? Peek around town in alleyways and storefronts. There are plenty of interesting things to shoot from small towns to big cities. Bicycles, windows, signs, railings, people, you name it. If street photography is new to you, do some research and read the recent blog post I wrote about it. Though street photography tends to be about people, you can certainly get creative and work with still-life.
As photographers, we tend to keep all of our images on our computer or posted online. But, why not showcase them as framed prints around your home? It helps to keep you proud, excited and motivated if you see your work on your walls.
Another reason to have prints made is to give them as holiday and birthday presents for those who "have everything". Your photography is valuable and giving it as a gift is unique and something only you can give. This is a great time to bulk order your favorite images in a variety of sizes. How about note cards for your daughter? A print for dad's office? There are endless opportunities.
Knowing the snow will be falling or the buds will be blooming soon enough, you can scout out areas you want to photograph when the time comes. Get online, ask your friends, take a drive.
Whatever helps to inspire and direct you to new places and opportunities to point your lens. You'll have to use your imagination - picturing the scene with snow, for example. Imagine where the light might hit at that time of day a month from now. Take notes, make a list, and plan upcoming weekend trips. That way, when the first snowfall occurs, you won't be wondering which way to head!
Most of all…enjoy the changing seasons. They bring us new opportunities to create amazing images!
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