WAAAHHH. It’s so cold outside and I’m stuck inside with my kids and I feel so uninspired and I have nothing to take pictures of and WAAAAHHH.
Stop it. Stop it right now.
For those of you who have fancy cameras and find yourself in a pit of creative despair come winter because there are no fields to frolic in or meadows to dance through, I have some news for you. Winter is the absolute best time in the entire world to learn how to use your camera. If you already know how to use your camera? Winter is the absolute best time to practice using your camera. Between January and April of last year I took more photos than I had ever taken in my life, and come summer I had improved more in those four months than I had in the previous four years.
Because I found myself in a pit of creative despair and had no meadows to frolic in or fields to dance through. I had to work with what I had and what I had was a cute baby, her big sister and some really nice Southeast facing windows. If you want to be better come summer when the flowers are back in full bloom and you have your creative mojo back, it’s going to take some practice when you’re feeling less than inspired. These days all I need is some good light and I’ll take a picture of just about anything, heck, today I followed my kid around while she ate an apple. Sure, prize winning photography didn’t go down today, but I learned, I got better and I got some pretty sweet shots out of the deal.
The light is softer 1 of 5In the Midwest the sky is guilty of being bright white in winter, terrible for my sun starved soul, absolutely magical for photos. You see, when the sky is completely overcast there's no risk of harsh shadows or bright patches of sunshine, just consistently even, bright white lighting which makes taking indoor portraits a breeze (assuming you know where the good light is in your house.)
Do you have something better to be doing? 2 of 5The high this afternoon wasn't even above zero when you factored in wind chill which means the last place I wanted to be was outside, even if it was sunny. My kids were already being their weird little selves while the frozen wind blew outside, may as well take the opportunity to practice a bit more with my camera while I have a
You’ll capture more moments 3 of 5If you're practicing and futzing with your camera when you normally wouldn't be, you're far more likely to capture perfect little moments that would go by unnoticed or otherwise unseen. It's important to practice when nothing major is going on, trying to figure out how your camera works the day of your kid's birthday party? Terrible idea. Practicing on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon? It will become the most treasured practice you'll ever partake in. The everyday photos I snap when I'm simply messing around usually end up being my favorite.
You’ll get a crash course in metering 4 of 5You want to get thrown into a hard and fast manual mode lesson? On a bright white snowy day put your camera on manual, your ISO on 100, your f/stop around 4 or 5 and figure out at what shutter speed your kids face zeroes out on your meter. GOOD LUCK! (In this shot her face zeroed out at 1/640, meaning her face was neither under or over exposed.)
The good light comes earlier 5 of 5In summer the best light comes into my living room around 7 pm, which is right about the time I'm trying to feed everyone, put everyone in bed or keep everyone from falling off their bikes outside. In other words 7pm in summer is a terrible time to try and practice photography. In winter the very best light comes in right about 4 pm, meaning Vivi is fresh and still rosy cheeked from her nap, the dinner rush hasn't begun and I can just take a quiet moment to let my girls play while I sit in the corner and capture what I can.
Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy or her Babble Voices site Shutterlovely. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.