As we now officially enter the season of winter there are few greater opportunities for dramatic lighting within your photographs than a good winter’s day. It can be an amazing time of the year to see and photograph wildlife where the winter light will add a great deal of impact to your images.
On the shortest day of the year, known as the winter solstice, the sun is at the lowest point within the southern sky. During the short winter days the sun does not rise exactly in the east, but instead rises just south of east and it sets south of west.The solstice marks the moment the sun shines at its most southern point, directly over the Tropic of Capricorn.
As soon as the winter solstice has passed, the days will start getting longer again and you can start looking forward to Spring. This year, the solstice will occur on Wednesday, December 21, the sun will rise in the UK at 08:04 GMT and set at 15:54 GMT, giving just 7 hours and 49 minutes of daylight.
During the winter months the UK as part of the Northern Hemisphere is at the closest point to the Sun, these days are shorter and the sun is low in the sky giving some of the best light a photographer can wish for. Its one of the best times for light throughout the seasons and being able to use this light on offer with transform your image.
In the spring we have the Spring Equinox the opposite to the winter equinox around 21st March. With this knowledge in tact you can make best use not only of the light but the shorter daylight hours in which wildlife has to conserve as much food as physically possible to survive the extreme weathers of winter.
The way you use light in wildlife photography is very important for the overall effect you are wishing to capture. Try when possible to use the widest aperture you can on your telephoto lens rendering the background blurred, creating a smooth backdrop to your image.
Winter is a testing time for all living animals, always remember when working with wild animals they come first and the last thing you want to do is to impose yourself to quickly or scare the animal you’re wishing to photograph. It’s also very important to know that calories are burned off more quickly during the winter months so fieldcraft and respect have to be the first priorities of any photographer.
If the subject has to move to avoid you and this carries on there’s no telling the animal will be able to recoup those “spent” calories and energy avoiding you which in turn means your actions may result in the premature death of your subject should it struggle to find enough food. From your action nature will have a reaction something everyone that enters their world should adhere too and understand way before you press the cameras shutter button.
I hope this blog post has helped and inspired you to just get out there and photograph wildlife around at this time of year in some of the most dramatic light you could wish for, good luck.