Photography ideas for the long, dark winter nights
At the end of the year, when the nights are long and the days dark and tired, photographing can become less interesting. Some may even lose inspiration during these days. I have a few ideas to get you through the dark winter months in the Northern Hemisphere.
At the winter solstice, the nights are long. Photographing can be a bit more difficult unless you are shooting at night. During these months, it is easy to lose inspiration. You don’t have to spend all your time photographing, of course. After all, there are also other things to do. Still, if you like to keep shooting during this time, it can be hard to find something interesting to photograph.
That’s why I’ve put together some ideas that can give ideas or provide inspiration. It might not be your genre of photography, but trying these things out can also help you understand certain aspects of photography. In a way, it can improve your photography, or it can just bring a lot of fun. It is also important.
Falling water droplets
You are probably familiar with the pictures of water droplets falling on a water surface. These can become very artistic and form amazing shapes when they collide with other water droplets. If you’ve never tried this sort of thing before, it can be a lot of fun to do.
You can buy all sorts of equipment that makes it relatively easy to do, but a simple dripping water tap can get you started. But you will need a flash, preferably off-camera. I have to admit that pressing the shutter button at the right time can be a tricky thing to do when done manually. But when the nights are long, there is plenty of time available for training.
It can also be educational, learning how to set up flash and combine it with ambient exposure. Use colored gels or colored liquids and experiment with different configurations. It doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as it’s fun to do.
Fruits and other foods
You probably have a lot of food around the holidays, and maybe some fruit too. Why not use it as a subject for your photography before consuming it? It can be as simple as a simple but nice mise en place on a plate, or you can do another setup. Dropping nuggets or a sliced apple can also be tricky. You can use the short flash time to freeze motion, or you can learn how light and shadow work in a multiple flash setup.
Objects inside your house with macro
You can also use other elements of your house to photograph. Water droplets on a feather are a great subject if you have a macro lens. Play with depth of field and use all sorts of lights to make it interesting. Christmas lights can also work.
Normal household items can be photographed in an interesting way. Kitchen cutlery, like forks, offers great possibilities when casting shadows. Reflection can offer a beautiful challenge. You can learn a lot by shooting shiny objects like spoons and knives. Find out how to get rid of your own reflection or use reflections to your advantage. I don’t have any examples yet, so that’s the subject I’ll be experimenting with this winter.
Play with fire
Who doesn’t like to play with fire? You can photograph a lighter, but matches are much more fun. Capturing the igniting flame can be a sport, and its budding form can hold some nice surprises. Be creative and try to capture more than the flame itself. Maybe some bokeh ringing from the Christmas lights in the back?
If you dare to go outside, it can be fun filming hot steel wool. Place fine steel wool in a whisk, light it, and swing it on the end of a cord. It can give amazing results. It’s something you can’t do alone, but there’s always someone else around who also likes to play with fire. Your kids will love it.
Just be careful when spinning hot steel wool. Stay away from flammable objects, like trees and plants, and even your clothes can be flammable. If you want to be safe, keep a fire extinguisher handy.
Find a new look for your photo
As photographers, we always try to get the most out of our photos. For this, we use all kinds of post-processing. Maybe the dark winter nights can be used to try new things. Maybe you find a nice look for your photo or for a series of photos.
Especially when you don’t have a signature look, it can be a good thing to experiment with. But don’t try too hard, just play around with different looks and come back a few days later. Only then can we get an objective opinion on the things you’ve tried. Most of them probably aren’t worth it, but that’s okay. You’ve probably learned a lot about post-processing along the way.
Learn fun photo manipulations
Another way to learn post-processing is to do fun photo manipulations. Mix different photos in surreal and funny compilations. Make it as real as possible, with shadows and the right direction of light. You will learn a lot just by playing with it.
Maybe you can also use different objects that you can find on the internet. Who knows, maybe you’ll finally have a cool idea for a series of manipulated photos. Remember, it’s just for fun.
Make a photo album
You’ve probably taken a lot of pictures over the past few months. Why not make a photo album with the best images of the year? This way you can take your work with you when visiting friends and family. It’s much more fun to look in a photo album compared to a digital screen. And above all, your work will be more appreciated this way.
If you don’t like a real photo album, it is also possible to make a digital slideshow. Lightroom Classic has the ability to easily create such a slideshow. But this is only one of the programs that offer this possibility. Once you are done, you can share it on social media and YouTube. It’s a great way to breathe new life into your best work.
Do you have any other ideas?
These are just a few ideas to work with if you’re looking for a way to get through the dark winter nights. You can learn a lot this way, or find new topics that interest you. But maybe you have another idea that could inspire you. Please share your ideas in the comments below.