If you’re photography-minded or have the simple New Year’s resolution to take more photos, the chances are you might be spending more time out with a camera in the coming weeks.
Modern smartphones are capable of taking great photos, but the best results still come from dedicated digital cameras.
Whatever device being used, shooting during the darkest days of the year can be a challenge, with the natural conditions lacking the light that’s needed for many aspects of photography.
To help get users started, leading night photographer Andrew Whyte has created a series of hacks and advice to help photographers of all skill levels get the most out of their surroundings.
Whyte has worked with Sony cameras and their SEL100F28GM lens to create a series of images taken on the streets of London showing what’s possible at night.
“Using a shallow depth of field to blur the background of a photo is a great way to isolate a subject and give your image a sense of depth but it doesn’t always happen automatically,” he said.
“Following these steps will help if you want to recreate a similar mood in your photos.”
Whyte’s first tip for winter photographers is to “understand the technicalities”, particularly when it comes to creating images with bokeh – the technique of focusing on a subject and blurring objects around it.
“Creating bokeh requires a relationship between your lens focal length, aperture, as well as the distances between the camera, background and subject,” he says.
“You can control the first two factors by using a telephoto lens such as Sony’s SEL100F28GM and a wide aperture setting like f2.8. The remaining elements are influenced by how you compose and stage your scene.”
Whyte also says the time you take your photos is important – and where possible users should take advantage of the rising or setting sun.
“Aim to shoot for up to an hour either side of sunset and sunrise. Natural scenes like grass and rippled water can be very effective when backlit by a low sun.
“Alternatively, urban scenes work well during early twilight, when levels of daylight are balanced with artificial light sources.”
Whyte also highlights the importance of choosing the right settings, encouraging photographers to switch to a high shutter speed on their camera if their scenes contain moving elements or people.
He also encourages users to “get creative” with the scenes they create.
“When light fades to darkness, use a tripod and longer exposure times to present a creative interpretation of urban life,” Whyte says.
“Shoot silhouettes of friends against abstract blurred backdrops, or simply defocus the lens to show a familiar city scene in a new way. Adding an item into the foreground is a great way to give the viewer’s eyes a subject on which to settle.”
The photographer’s final tip for those heading out over the New Year period is to be prepared.
“Wrap up warm and start with fully charged camera batteries so you don’t get caught out by winter temperatures,” he said.
“If the thought of venturing outside leaves you cold, recreate the look in your own home with a table-top setup and a backdrop of Christmas decorations or fairy lights.
“Festive treats and children’s toys both look great when photographed in this style. Position a desk lamp or two to add balanced light into your scene.”