3 Tips for Finding Light in Winter | Cally Neal | Unraveled Expert Artist

With the shorter days of winter fast approaching Western PA, I find myself feeling that all too familiar dread of the shorter days. While the Summer days are generous with the hours of available daylight they give us; winter tends to short change us. When I committed to my first full 365 day photo challenge, I realized how brutal the winter months could be for us photographers. It was the first time I really challenged myself to push through those cold, darker months. But how? Photography is dependent on light after all, and without any, what can we do?

Well the truth is that unless you live in an underground compound with no electricity, batteries or matches, you have light to work with. The days may be shorter but here are a few tips to keep yourself motivated throughout the winter.

  1. Watch the Golden/blue hour changes.

Study the changes in where the blue hour and golden hour light falls. During summer in our neighborhood, we don’t get a decent golden hour because by the time the sun gets to a nice low level in the sky, it’s behind our trees and we get nothing but shade. However in the winter, the golden hour bathes our front street in the most magical yellow/orange tones. I take advantage of this time and convince the kids it’s ok to play in the street. Bikes, Scooters, Dog walks, etc. If you can stand the cold, get out and experiment!

 
  Golden hour comes early on our street in winter

Golden hour comes early on our street in winter

 

2. Use ALL the Windows.

Just as summer provides some beautiful sun flares for me in the front living room of my home, winter gives my back bedrooms the same treatment. Walk around your house at all times of the day and see where the light is falling. Experiment by photographing in rooms you don’t normally use. The one room that is dark in the summer might be heavenly in winter. Last year I walked down my basement steps and damn near killed myself when I saw the amazing light streaming in though the one little window. It was probably the only thing that motivated me to clean my basement that time but hey….you do what you have to do. PS dust in harsh window light = glitter.

 
  My basement window light.

My basement window light.

 
 
  The harsh morning light is only present in my bedroom in the later months.

The harsh morning light is only present in my bedroom in the later months.

 

3. Use Playful lighting.

There are so many tools for adding light to any room. Light some candles and let your kids sing happy birthday to anyone and every one. Bonus if you get to eat the cake. Give them a flashlight and let them make animal shapes on the walls or silhouettes of each other. Make a tent and give them a lantern. Think about Christmas twinkle lights, phones screens, headlights, headlamps, light sabers and light up toys. They are all cool ways to create light. Let this be a playful and fun time for you and children to experiment with artificial light. Let winter be your “out of the box” season.

 
  Old school light-brite

Old school light-brite

 
 
 
  Hiding out in the cabinets with our camping lantern.

Hiding out in the cabinets with our camping lantern.

 
 
  Fun with headlights

Fun with headlights

 

Winter is coming for some of us, but don’t let the short days force you to put your camera down. I challenge you to push yourself this year. Keep on creating friends!


 
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Cally Neal is a photographer outside of Pittsburgh, PA. She is mom to 2 lovely children; Israel age 10 and Sylvia age 5. Cally and her husband Jeremiah have been married for 16 years and have lived in several states including NY and GA. Unlike a lot of her fellow creatives, she did not pick up a camera to photograph her children. They didn’t come along until much later. Cally actually started her career by photographing race horses at the Monticello race track in NY in 2001. One day someone asked if she was a photographer and she boldly said yes. From there she started a business photographing people with their horses. She then spent the next 13 years photographing everything she could; families, maternity, newborns, births, seniors and weddings. In 2014, she took a break from the business to concentrate on being present for her family. Cally has spent her time since then researching, learning, studying and exploring ways to make her every day life into art. While she doesn’t know if she will jump back into the business, she is currently enjoying her time creating just for herself and her family. You can find more of her work at www.instagram.com/whatcallysees

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