How to Take Great Photos During the Winter

I’m pretty sure that Daylight Savings Time is the scourge of all bloggers. Fall and winter are great seasons, but they’re also gloomy and the days are short. And if you’re like me, and have a full time job, then it’s usually dusk by the time you get home.

But fear not, your Instagram feed does not have to suffer until spring! Here are some tips for making the most of the dark season and still managing to take great photos.

Find the natural light.

My current apartment seems like it has a lot of windows at first glance, but unfortunately the living room and common area are incredibly dark, since the only light comes from one small window in the kitchen and the sliding glass doors, most of which is blocked by the massive balcony overhang.

As a result, I end up taking most of my photos in one of the two bedrooms, since they have large windows and get a lot of direct sunlight.

Basically, what I’m saying here is, find what natural sunlight you can find and figure out where the best spot in your house is. This way you can maximize on the times when it actually is sunny or light out and not have to spend valuable time taking photos in a too-dark space.

If you can’t find your own sunlight, store bought is fine.

That being said, sometimes natural light needs a little help. I recently purchased a shoot-through umbrella light kit for $30 on Amazon, and it’s a GAME CHANGER. Basically it uses a lightbulb and a white reflecting umbrella to enhance the natural light without making it look yellowy or washed out like when you use a lamp.

Here’s a side-by-side shot of an unedited photo taken with the umbrella (right) and without (left):

It was actually fairly bright today so there’s not a massive difference, but it’s easy to see that the shadows are much darker and more pronounced in the shot without the light. For something so relatively inexpensive, it may be one of my favorite blogging investments to date. I probably wouldn’t use it when it’s totally pitch black outside, but on gloomy days or when it’s dusky, it’s the perfect boost for my photos.

Editing is your friend.

Seriously, editing is huge. And I’d like to stress that you should EDIT and not just FILTER your photos. Filters and presets can be great to add a finishing touch or some unique coloring to your photos, but you should learn how to actually edit. And I don’t necessarily mean using Photoshop or Lightroom, because even I’m still working on that, but just learning basic settings in VSCO Cam can be game-changing.

For dark photos, bump up the exposure, temperature and shadows to soften it and make it look less cold and dark. Here’s a side by side of before and after editing with VSCO:

For this, I upped the exposure, shadows and warmth all by +1.0 on VSCO. It makes such a difference, and there’s no way anyone could tell that it was a dark and gloomy day outside.

Take photos in batches.

Since I have limited daylight hours in which I’m actually at home and able to take photos, I have to make the most of those times. Usually that means taking tons of photos on the weekends, or if it’s a particularly sunny day, I usually try to snap a few when I go home on my lunch hour. This way you can build up a bank of nice photos to use throughout the week or when you’re unable to get a nice shot.

How do you combat dark photos?

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