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I’ve been desperate for some proper wintry weather, a hard hoar frost to transform everywhere into a glittery winter wonderland, or a decent covering of snow just for a few days, preferably over a weekend. Instead it’s been mild, wild and wet for the most part, depriving us photographers of any typical winter landscapes to get excited about. If it weren’t for Ferb, our Italian water dog (a lagotto  if you want his posh name) I would have stayed indoors waiting for more exciting and photogenic weather to arrive. Our energetic dog lives up to his name and needs his daily splash in filthy water, so we’ve been out anyway and along with lead, treats and poo bags, I always pick up a camera on the way out of the door.
Occasionally I have a photographic mission in mind and will take a SLR and specific lens along with me, my “nifty fifty” for arty, soft focus shots of forest and fauna, or “big boy” (my super fast Canon 70-200mm f/2.8) for action shots of Ferb haring along woodland paths chasing squirrels. Lately, due to an increasingly painful tennis elbow (or in my case photographer’s elbow) I’ve had to opt for a much lighter load, so it’s the Fujifilm X10 that’s accompanied me. Not that I’m complaining as it’s a wonderful little camera, with a maximum aperture of f/2.0-2.8, beautiful colours and great performance in low light. A whole load of other typically Fuji features make it a joy to use, much more than a point and shoot compact. The zoom is a bit limited at 28-112mm but for general shots of landscapes, close ups and portraits (usually my husband or the dog!) it’s perfectly adequate. If you’d like to see more images taken with this lovely camera see my Pinterest Board.
All taken with the Fujifilm X10. I had some fun editing them too with actions in Photoshop Elements.
You might wonder what I’ve found to photograph on our muddy walks, but if you’ve got the clicking bug like me, then almost anything can be transformed into a picture if it catches the light in an interesting way, or if you can see a striking composition. I have a thing for trees at the moment, but haven’t quite mastered how to shoot them when there’s a lot of other trees around them creating clutter. Watch this space for a tree project one day. On our last few walks we’ve had a few sunny spells and the low winter sun has created slanting shadows through the trees.
Top tip for this time of year
  • Wintry light can be quite dull and if you are photographing anything that moves you need to watch that your shutter speed doesn’t get too slow. It needs to be at least 1/250th of a second or your moving subject will be blurred.
  • Check your shutter speed as you take the picture. As you half press the shutter button it will be displayed on the LCD display or in the viewfinder.
  • Or after you take the image and are looking at it, if you press “Display” or “Info” (depending on your camera) then you can usually see what shutter speed you used.
  • If it’s less than 1/250th then you need to increase it. If you’re using the green fully automatic mode then you need to change to P (Program Mode) by turning the dial on the top of your camera. The camera still does the important stuff automatically for you but you can take charge a little.
  • Now look up how to change the ISO setting. This might be a button on the back of the camera or in the menus. Increase it to a higher number until your shutter speed is fast enough. You can check your shutter speed by half pressing the shutter down as you focus on your subject and checking what number it displays.
  • You can do all of this on any type of camera apart from the majority of camera phones.
Knowing my way around the camera, being aware of what the camera can and can’t do on the Auto settings and knowing what to do if the light is tricky is second nature to me now and I can concentrate for the most part on “seeing the image”. If something happens unexpectedly I am ready to catch those spontaneous moments (or some of them at least!). Photography is a constant learning process for me, and probably for everyone and that’s one of the things that makes it so addictive and enjoyable.

If you’d like to get to grips with your camera then why not book a course or one to one lesson with me. This all becomes second nature very quickly when someone shows you how to do it and it will make a dramatic difference to your photography.
By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I’d love to hear your comments too!

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