abstract of a large leaf with raindrops
50mm. f/1.4, 1/320, ISO 200.

Guest Post by Lisa Bettany

Fall is slowly fading away. The days are short, wet & cold, and the sky is one shade of monotonous grey. I don’t know about you, but I feel like completely hibernating.

Here are five photography projects to keep you inspired during the cold, soggy, rainy days:

1. Put your rubber boots on and grab some dewy macros.
Now is the perfect time to get raindrop covered plant life shots for your portfolio. The light is nice and soft on cloudy days, so you’ll get even light on your subject. Don’t be afraid of getting up close and trying multiple angles. Keep shooting until you find the best angle that makes those raindrops sparkle.

You’ll want to shoot with your aperture wide open, so you can keep your ISO low and get loads of delicious bokeh. Bring your tripod along just in case you need some steadying. And wear some rubber boots, because you’ll probably be crouching in a huge puddle o’ mud the entire time!

2. Wait for that perfect moody winter sunset.

W. 4th Ave, Kitsilano, Vancouver
18mm, f/5.6, 1/15, ISO 400.

Even on cloudy days the sun can make a brief apperance. And when it does, it’s usually spectacular. If you see the sun start to peak through the clouds during magic hour (1 hour before sunset), bundle up and head out to great landscape location. Winter skies are rich with colour. Add some thick clouds and you’ve got a great shot. There is nothing more magical than sun rays beaming through a dark and moody sky.

3. Get creative with strobes.

Apple Hype Monster

Get that flash off your camera and grab some gels and get creative. Set up a little studio in a corner of your place and shoot some stills with character. Check out Strobist for the 411 on off-camera flashes and cheap DIY projects to keep you inspired and busy on a gloomy day.

4. Set-up some stills on your window sills.

Breakfast Croissants at the Angel, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, UK
50mm, f/1.8, 1/80, ISO 400.

If you don’t have flashes or triggers, no fear! Make use of the lovely diffused light coming through your living room windows, and snap a still shot of your tea time snacks, sea monkeys, your little sister or whatever strikes your fancy. You probably want to set up a bounce or white board opposite the window to get some light on the subject.

5. Find hidden gems in your old photos.

bowl of colourful cufflinks
50mm, f/2, 1/125, ISO 200.

Get a big cuppa tea and look though your old photos. As you go, mark or star the photos you think have promise. After you’ve gone through once, go back and pull your top ranked photos into a photo editor (LR, PS, Aperture) and really work on them. A little cropping, sharpening, saturating, some layers and masks and voila! Great shot. You never know what amazing shots are hiding in your archives.

If all else fails, just hunker down in your bed with a stack of DVDs and call it a day.

Join the conversation! 24 Comments

  1. I wanted to catch the last weekend fall foliage by heading deep into the Catskills of New York State to photograph some historic structures against the backdrop of fall color. Nature had other plans. Even though I was only about 30 miles from my home, I completely neglected the possibility that there would already be snow on the ground and not a leaf in sight. Instead of late Autumn, I got early winter. So, thanks to Lisa for the bad weather idea.

    Reply
  2. I wanted to catch the last weekend fall foliage by heading deep into the Catskills of New York State to photograph some historic structures against the backdrop of fall color. Nature had other plans. Even though I was only about 30 miles from my home, I completely neglected the possibility that there would already be snow on the ground and not a leaf in sight. Instead of late Autumn, I got early winter. So, thanks to Lisa for the bad weather idea.

    Reply
  3. In Canada we have four months of gray every year – sometimes in summer :-)

    On these types of days, I routinely:

    1. Shoot in B&W (sometimes no conversion from RGB is needed)
    2. Fire up Nik Color Efex and Tiffen Dfx to create some interest out of otherwise uninspiring content.
    3. Put a teleconverter on my 105 micro to get bigger than life size images of ordinary things.

    Reply
  4. In Canada we have four months of gray every year – sometimes in summer :-)

    On these types of days, I routinely:

    1. Shoot in B&W (sometimes no conversion from RGB is needed)
    2. Fire up Nik Color Efex and Tiffen Dfx to create some interest out of otherwise uninspiring content.
    3. Put a teleconverter on my 105 micro to get bigger than life size images of ordinary things.

    Reply
  5. Nice article, we all need reminding that photography isn’t only about sunny days from time to time.

    Reply
  6. Nice article, we all need reminding that photography isn’t only about sunny days from time to time.

    Reply
  7. I did get out and caught a beautiful sunset last night.

    http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2008/11/03/view-45-november-sunset/

    Last December I took a trip to Niagara Falls and braved a cold and icy morning to photograph the falls. Just dress for the weather and get some gloves or mittens that allow you to uncover your finger tips to work the camera controls. Well worth the price in gold they were.

    Reply
  8. I did get out and caught a beautiful sunset last night.

    http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2008/11/03/view-45-november-sunset/

    Last December I took a trip to Niagara Falls and braved a cold and icy morning to photograph the falls. Just dress for the weather and get some gloves or mittens that allow you to uncover your finger tips to work the camera controls. Well worth the price in gold they were.

    Reply
  9. I don’t know why but for some reason this article just made me feel all good inside. Great ideas and inspirations. Thx

    Reply
  10. I don’t know why but for some reason this article just made me feel all good inside. Great ideas and inspirations. Thx

    Reply
  11. Great tips for grey stormy weather, but I must say I love to get out and shoot nice black and whites of our Dutch grey skies;-)

    Reply
  12. Great tips for grey stormy weather, but I must say I love to get out and shoot nice black and whites of our Dutch grey skies;-)

    Reply
  13. @Kent — Thanks! All the leaves have dropped here too. I’m hoping to grab some nice fallen leaves macros.

    @Craig S — Great points. I haven’t tried those plug-ins but I can’t wait to. Silver Efex looks pretty cool too.

    @Scott — I really need a pair of those gloves. What brand were they?

    @Eric — Aww. Thanks!

    @Wolfman — Exactly! You’ve got to keep inspired even when 90% of the days are wet and soggy.

    Reply
  14. @Kent — Thanks! All the leaves have dropped here too. I’m hoping to grab some nice fallen leaves macros.

    @Craig S — Great points. I haven’t tried those plug-ins but I can’t wait to. Silver Efex looks pretty cool too.

    @Scott — I really need a pair of those gloves. What brand were they?

    @Eric — Aww. Thanks!

    @Wolfman — Exactly! You’ve got to keep inspired even when 90% of the days are wet and soggy.

    Reply
  15. You also can lightpaint since it’s getting dark out here on the east coast by 5:30. A lot of good ideas here… I Guess this will be the winter I learn how to use a flash. Good post!

    Reply
  16. You also can lightpaint since it’s getting dark out here on the east coast by 5:30. A lot of good ideas here… I Guess this will be the winter I learn how to use a flash. Good post!

    Reply
  17. Great list. I would add: Shoot some portraits outdoors. As long as the rain isn’t falling and the sky isn’t overcast to the point of darkness, it’s like having a free giant soft box at your disposal.

    Reply
  18. Great list. I would add: Shoot some portraits outdoors. As long as the rain isn’t falling and the sky isn’t overcast to the point of darkness, it’s like having a free giant soft box at your disposal.

    Reply
  19. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the tips. The suggestion of going through old photos and either refining or deleting them is useful advice.

    Gary Hamburgh

    Reply
  20. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the tips. The suggestion of going through old photos and either refining or deleting them is useful advice.

    Gary Hamburgh

    Reply
  21. The NW winter works well for BW photos, Thanks for the ideas

    Reply
  22. The NW winter works well for BW photos, Thanks for the ideas

    Reply

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