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  1. Top Tips: optimising your winter filming and photography

    Swinford Toll Bridge Oxfordshire in a heavy frost

    Despite what you might initially think, winter can be a great time to film and photograph. You do need to be able to maximise the windows of opportunity though, and think creatively if things aren’t going to plan.

    Here are some of my top tips and tricks to help you through the winter months.

    Focus on the positives

    Think about playing to the strengths of winter and be creative. If you’re filming an outdoor or sporting event, focus on the challenge of mud, feet in puddles, shots of cold breath. Try and capture that feeling of getting out there and beating the elements.

    Look for light

    Daylight hours are short, but that means it’s easier to capture dawn and dusk, which is when we get some of the best light. So plan ahead and make sure you know sunrise and sunset times. Download an app to help you track it.

    Winter sunlight- when it appears- can be stunning. Frosty, sunny mornings are a dream to photograph.

    Don’t forget you can also warm up a scene by dialing in a warmer white balance or grade your footage post-production.

    Have a plan B

    In the UK, there’s a good chance it will rain, so plan with that in mind. Is there an indoor option should it rain all day? Have an umbrella to help keep the camera dry.

    Actually, I find that wet conditions can throw up opportunities for beautiful reflections on wet pavements and roads, so be vigilant and keep an eye out for an opportunity from a different angle.

    A blind man walking alongside the road

    Watch out for seasonal signposts

    Do you want your photo or film to be blatantly linked to a set time of year? Christmas decorations and trees are an obvious sign of December so if you don’t want them in, make sure you do a quick recce first of your location.

    Daffodils are another one to watch out for. However much we all love that first sign of winter losing its grip, it’s an emblem of early spring.

    Equipment

    Keep an eye out for rain on the lense of the camera. Be aware that moving from cold to hot conditions can cause your lens to fog up. The best thing to do is to leave it to warm up on it’s own, if you wipe it, it will smear and you’ll get more condensation.

    I’ve also found that batteries don’t last as long in really cold weather so have plenty of spares, or one on charge.

    People

    Sadly at certain times of the year, it seems that 90% of us have a cold or sniffle of some sort. Runny noses aren’t a good look so watch out for those!

    Wind can play havoc with long hair and interferes with the sound, so try and seek a more sheltered spot to make life easier.

    Schedule plenty of breaks with hot drinks if it’s really cold to keep everyone’s spirits up. There’s nothing like a good cuppa and a chocolate biscuit to cheer people up!

    Dress appropriately

    If you’re outside filming all day, you and your models are going to get cold, so wear plenty of layers so you can adapt to needs on the day.

    If you’re too cold, your fingers won’t be able to work the camera, so invest in some fingerless gloves.

    This was me on my way to a shoot last February. Luckily it was close to home so I could walk!

    Think ahead

    UK weather extremes are increasingly common. Heavy rain, high winds, flooding, storms and snow can play havoc with your plans and your travelling.

    One year we had a shoot booked in Exeter which was a three-hour drive for me and a three- four hour train journey for Catherine. We allowed plenty of extra time. I drove down in a storm, which admittedly wasn’t a pleasant experience, but we got there, we got the job done and survived to tell the tale!

    However, be prepared for shoot days to be cancelled at short notice, sometimes it just happens.

    Shooting seasonless footage

    You may be shooting in the winter but need your film to look like a different season- tricky! Whilst you can tweak film and images in post production, photographers and filmmakers aren’t magicians.

    Think about the environment you’re shooting in. A city or beach might have less obvious giveaways that it’s winter as there aren’t so many trees around.

    If you absolutely must have blue skies and that warm summer vibe then quite simply film in the summer. You can’t edit leaves onto trees!

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    • boy and dog on a hilltop on a sunny winters day
    • The Pear Tree pub in Wiltshire in frosty, winter conditions
    • A golden retriever in a field with a frosted winter white hedge row.
    • a golden retriever in a frosty field in winter at sunrise

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