Cameras at the ready! Could we be in for a repeat of last year’s Beast from the East?
PUBLISHED: 16:03 27 December 2018 | UPDATED: 19:59 27 December 2018
With freezing winds and snow forecast across the UK for January and February, East Anglia could well be set to suffer a repeat of last year’s Beast from the East.
But while winter weather often spells chaos for commuters and wreaks havoc on the roads, for photography fans, it’s a delight.
Here, former Professional Photographer of the Year David Morris, who lives at Cromer, shares some of his spectacular winter-themed photographs, and his top tips for capturing that perfect snowy scene . . .
Exposure, by David Morris
Everyone loves a snow scene, even those who don’t like tramping around in the stuff.
Snow transforms landscapes, making the mundane spectacular, crafting ice jewels in unexpected places and making us reconsider the world around us.
It also feels like a once in a lifetime opportunity for photographers to capture something special.
But these days, spectacular snowfalls seem to becoming more and more infrequent, so when you do see snow, it’s best to make the most of the opportunity while you can.
When you first walk out into a white out landscape, it’s all too easy to be seduced into banging off lots of shots to try and capture the magical atmosphere.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, but if you want to make something special you are going to have to be a bit more considered.
You are really going to have to concentrate on your composition for a start.
When I was asked to write something for Enjoy Cromer More, I was told loads of photographers post their pictures in the group and that they might appreciate some tips.
I thought “fine”, and then realised I think I’ve only got two tips for taking photographs in the snow, and both tips involve exposure.
The first tip is to avoid over-exposure; the trick with snow photography is to pull back before the highlights burn out to a dead white.
It’s very easy to end up with nothing - no detail, no texture, just white-out, and those of you who know how to use a histogram should soon see when you are about to go over the edge.
If you don’t regularly check your images, it’s often not until you get back home that you realise you have captured acres of landscape devoid of any of the magical texture of snow.
My photograph ‘Snow and Sky’ is a large expanse of nothing much really. I appreciate that some might agree wholeheartedly with my wife - who thinks I can take some exceptionally boring photographs - but this shot wouldn’t be anything at all if you couldn’t see the texture in the snow, however slight that may be.
For those brave souls using film, things can be even more difficult.
We were taught to over-expose by one-and-a-half to two stops for snow conditions - if we didn’t the snow would look a dull grey instead of a sparkling white.
Of course, it’s easy to go too far and end up with the white-out our digital comrades experience, the only difference being the film photographer wouldn’t realise the gaffe until his film came back from Boots.
The only way round this is to make an educated guess on the exposure and then bracket half a stop either side.
My second tip is to avoid over-exposure. No, stay with me, it’s not a senior moment - this is different!
You have to dress warm. You need your thermals, two or three hats and all the gloves you can muster.
I use thin cotton gloves covered over with thicker gloves, I’ve even got a pair that takes two batteries to supply heat through some natty insulated wiring to your fingertips.
You should only expose your fingers when you take your photograph or fiddle about with the lens. If you don’t, the cold will creep in and eventually you will realise you can’t operate the camera properly anymore, as your fingers are too iced up.
No amount of sticking them under your armpits or blowing into them is going to change any of that.
It will be at that point that you start noticing interesting compositions that you missed on your previous tramp round the landscape, and, by then, all you want to do is go home and unfreeze your fingers.
Work David Morris can be seen at The Garden House Gallery, Cromer, and at www.davidmorrisphotographer.com