It’s a bit of an odd season isn’t it? First off, it’s dominated by Christmas and New Year celebrations right at the start - we’re traditionalists who see 21st December as being the proper start of winter not this meteorological season 1st of the month stuff. Then once January starts everyone’s in a rush to get to spring, lighter nights, warmer weather and, basically, everyone can’t wait to see the back of it.
We can’t really think of any other season that provokes that attitude. “Spring gah! Wish it was summer” said no-one ever.
Bit sad isn’t it?
So here’s to winter and why it’s just as special – probably more so than some of the other seasons and times of the year.
Ok so it’s cold – maybe not as cold as we may remember – but in addition to snow and ice you can also, on the same day, get glorious cloud-free, crystal clear, blue skies and sunshine. Plays havoc with your white balance and exposure, but can create some unique photos. Ok, so the glorious autumn foliage is only there …in autumn and bluebells in spring, but snow and ice is, well snow and ice!
2.DARK MORNINGS AND EARLY NIGHTS
Picture the scene – midsummer and you fancy a sunrise picture – 4.00am anyone? Or midwinter and you could still be tucked up in bed at 7.00am and still make it in time. Likewise sunsets – we’ve still been out in parts of the country gone way past 10.30pm in summer – or you could be enjoying a full on sunset at 4.00pm – not handy on a work day it has to be said, but at weekend…perfect!
Christmas – time to practice your bokeh with twinkly lights, candles and tinsel. Christmas markets – always great for street photography especially when they haven’t fully opened and it’s been raining – perfect. New Years Eve and fireworks – this actually seems to be bigger (and louder) than bonfire night now - especially at 3 in the morning!
Harsh winters aren’t great lets be honest but some bad weather can be good in offering some unique opportunities to photograph wildlife that you normally wouldn't be able to. Just as we have summer migrants – swallows, warblers etc we also have winter migrants as well and in some years if conditions are right we get great influxes or irruptions of certain species that can usually be difficult to see. Last year huge numbers of Hawfinches “invaded” the UK driven west after crop failures on their usual wintering grounds in Germany - one flock alone at Castle Howard in Yorkshire held up to 100 birds. Waxwings are always another such species, a couple of years ago we even had a flock of a dozen or so of these enigmatic visitors turn up just around the corner from home part of a massive nationwide irruption numbering several thousand birds.
Plus don’t forget the familiar garden birds that all need food as well as the magnificent geese and swans that have migrated south to the UK plus the famous but increasingly rare Starling mumurations – only at winter!
Ok so daylight is in short supply but what a perfect time to get the fire on, grab a brew (or something stronger), do some tidying up of your photos, get around to looking at some forgotten stuff, look back on the past year (or maybe forget it) and start to plan ahead.
Ahh winter and why you should be as loved as much as all the other times of year despite you throwing all sorts of stuff at us! Sliding across sheet ice in a car isn’t the top of most people's to-do list, but, taken with care and proper clothing there’s no better feeling than being the first to walk through a familiar landscape that’s been magically transformed by an overnight snowfall.
Beat that spring, summer and autumn!
Life and other