Photography News

Hot/Cold Timetables

January 15, 2014 by Leanne Cole

scdca-5hpm7861-4When my children were in Primary School they had what they called hot day timetables or wet day timetables.  These were contingency plans for when the children couldn’t play as normal.  I thought it would be a great idea to explore this option for photographers as I had a comment from a new blogging friend who told me she was getting too depressed from being trapped inside in the extreme weather that the Northern Hemisphere has been experiencing.  I understood it when I got it because I realised that it would be us in Southern Australia being stuck inside trying to stay cool that would be getting depressed because we couldn’t really get out and take photos.


I thought this would be a great time to take a look at what you can do when you can’t get outside to take photos.  There are options, many of them really, not all involve using the camera, but there are things to do.


I think being in Australia summer can be the worse time of the year for taking photos.  Unless you go out extremely early, or stay out very late, you are going to get shots that have very unforgiving harsh light in them.  No shadows, or very little.  There is that golden hour in the evening, supposedly a great time for photos, but if you have days where it is still around 40ºC at 8 o’clock at night, then it isn’t going to help, you will still have a very harsh light.


scrailway-HDR1If you love photography and want to keep doing things, then what is there to do? There are many different types of photography that you can do indoors.  It is easy to believe that you have to go out to take photos, but there are things you can do inside.


Still life photography comes to mind, whether it is working on taking photos of a bunch of flowers, or some of you ornaments.  You can practice your lighting, how to set up a still life.  Many people believe you need a studio to do still life, but the reality is, you can set up a still life setting near a window with muted light, with a piece of white cardboard as a reflector and have a piece of coloured paper or fabric as your backdrop.  If you aren’t sure then there are hundreds of tutorials on the internet to learn from.  Here are a couple of them–photo-8278


scbop-HDR4Food photography also comes under this now, with food photography becoming so popular it is great thing to experiment on.  You could get yourself set up, then cook your meal or cake, whatever, then photograph it before you sit down to eat it.  Though you might need to be quick or it might go cold.


If you have other people in your home you could experiment with your portraits.  Try different lighting, see what you can come up with.  Experiment with poses, see what you think works and doesn’t.  Just explore how to take photos of people indoors with nothing but natural light. Or try some experimental light, what light do you get from a candle, or a torch?


scsunflower-HDR2For me one of the advantages of being stuck indoors is the chance to work on my photos, to do the advanced editing that I have wanted to do but haven’t had the time to do lately.  I have a number of images that I would like to do more processing on and see what I can do to them.  I like turning my shots from a simple snap to a fine art image.


Part of that means brushing up on my Photoshop skills and learning some new things.  There are so many tutorials out there for how to learn Editing, from the very basic to really advanced skills.  I don’t go searching for them, but I have found that creativeLIVE has had some great people running workshops on Photoshop.  I particularly like Ben Willmore and Dave Cross and have purchased workshops run by both.  I have learned so much from them.  They have taught me how to expand my knowledge and really make me push my skills to try new things and experiment.


Of course, creativeLIVE don’t just do courses on Photoshop, they have a huge range of courses on offer and they aren’t that expensive to buy, not when you consider what you are getting.  You can buy courses run by photographers on running photography businesses, or by photographic artists and how they work.  It is a great resource.  I know I am going to be spending time going over some of the courses I have purchased and seeing what I have forgotten, then work out how to incorporate it into what I am doing now.


There are other places like this, KelbyOne, also an online workshop site.  They offer lots of workshops as well, but it seems to be done on a subscription basis.  You pay $25 a month, I assume $US, and then you get access to everything.  I can’t find a lot of information about it, but it could be great if you are learning photography.  It is unfortunate that there doesn’t seem to be a trial period, or it doesn’t allow you to see what the workshops/tutorials are like. I was interested and pressed on one to see if I thought it was worth looking at, but it wouldn’t let me see it unless I paid money too.


scbirds-5hpm4862-5I am not sure I would join it, I would hate to join and find there wasn’t much there for me.  I think if you are learning photography it could be great for you.  You might get a lot out of it, there might be a lot available and good value for your money.   I’m still on the fence about it.


There are so many things to do that we often put off because we all have that drive to just take photos.  It can be great when you are forced indoors and need to find projects to do.  I know what I am going to do, what about you, do you know what you are going to do?  Let us all know what you have planned.


Leanne Cole is a Melbourne based fine art photographer who specialises in Architecture and landscapes.  She has over 20 years experience and has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Melbourne, faculty VCA.  Leanne also writes her own blog and has been doing that for many years now, she writes for anyone interested in photography.  You can find Leanne at her website, or her blog, she is also on Google+ and Facebook

48 Responses to “Hot/Cold Timetables”

  1. […] Hot/Cold Timetables, please take a look and it would be wonderful if you could leave your comments there as well. […]

    • "Bunny" Aaron says:

      Hi! Thank you so much for the article. I live in Maine, USA, so while it rarely gets too hot to go outside (and our standards are probably lower than yours), we do sometimes have wind chill factors of -31 C in the winter. (I have to get out of here!) I’m going to bookmark this article to use during my next photography class. How hot does it get there, btw?

      • Leanne Cole says:

        You are very welcome, I hope you can get something from it. It does get quite hot, we are in the middle of a heatwave now so each day the temperatures have been over 40, or around 110F, that is unusual, four days in a row over 40, it is quite exhausting.

  2. Viveka says:

    A great article – great advices … totally agree to take photos during daytime in the summer is a waste of time … when the sun sits high. I love taking photo in the dusk, especially now up here in the north, when the dusk arrive around 3 pm.
    Excellent job, Leanne.

    • Leanne Cole says:

      Thank you Viveka, there are always things to do. Summer in Australia is so harsh, and so horrible for photos. You have to think outside the box. That would be nice, dusk so early, it is about 9 pm here at the moment. Take care.

  3. emily strobel says:

    What a great post! I’ve been running low on photography ideas and will definitely do some of these things! Great job on the article, Leanne! :)

  4. Eunice says:

    Great Blog post! You know I will give some a shot with most of winter ahead of me :)

  5. Gary says:

    Thank you Leanne for the creative advice. Going to checkout creativeLIVE.

  6. Pete says:

    Really nice piece, though at the risk of being a whinging pom (no cricket please!) that’s a dilemma we dream of in the land of grey & soggy.

    I’m always struck by the don’t-bother-in-the-full-sun view, which is one held by very many great photogs here too. But to me, being in an often grey & soggy place, that’s precisely what I want to shoot in, say, Spain. The harsh light, clipped shadow, blown lights and HUGE colours are so evocative. I guess it’s what you’re used to: I find places that have to deal with brutal sun look best in it – so don’t hide all the time, if only for our sakes :-)

    • Leanne Cole says:

      If you have a lot of grey and soggy, then that sounds perfect to me. I take photos all day long in winter here, it is only summer, so December, Jan and Feb, maybe March that it is useless doing it. Winter is fantastic here, the sun is low in the sky and the light is not as harsh. The sun is horrible here, especially in the South of Australia, it burns, really burns, something to do with the hole in the ozone layer. So I will hide, but it will be great in a couple of months.
      Australia is doing so well in the cricket, don’t you think, hahaha. Though, I think we are all secretly cheering on the Brits, we want them to win something.

  7. As a father, I fit my hobby in around work, dinner, and bathtime. There are plenty of studio techniques to experiment with, and some of my favorites use inexpensive accessories accessories like extension tubes and the $20 remote control for my Nikon.

    Try some close up photography to get a different perspective on focus and everyday objects. You can even cheat by using a zoom lens at a short distance if your camera’s mount doesn’t support “cheap” extension tubes.

    Thanks for the great post.

  8. very nice article Leanne…Today it was very rainy here (Boston area). I did a lot of computer/photoshop maintenance!
    Nice pictures!

  9. Bev Green says:

    Great ideas is frustrating when the outside becomes impossible to work in..also with the heat and cold affecting the actual cameras also..inside timetable can be fun too ! Bev

    • Leanne Cole says:

      It is,isn’t it Bev, I went out with my camera when it wasn’t quite as hot and it really got hot, so it is something I will need to be careful about. Inside can be great, have fun. Thank you.

  10. Some very good advice! For myself, I spend the time tagging untagged photos, sorting photos, etc. A very nice article.

  11. robert87004 says:

    Wow, Leanne, I’m not sure what to say. If I didn’t shoot during harsh light in the high deserts of New Mexico, I wouldn’t shoot at all.

    Sometimes harsh light can be effective, but you certainly won’t have anything approaching muted colors. Our sunlight is harsh within 15 minutes of sunrise and remains harsh until sunset, unless clouds build in the afternoon. I cope and keep shooting. If the sun is out on a winter day, it is still harsh, because we live and photograph between 5000′ and 7500′ elevation.

    I have discovered other widely accepted suggestions don’t apply, such as how much exposure compensation to use (because of the harsh light).

    Just like cooking and baking times change with elevation, so does photography.

    • Leanne Cole says:

      I imagine if I lived in an environment like that that you would learn how to take photos in it, fortunately here, it is only applicable in our summer, and only really really bad when the temp gets up around 40, which it is all this week, and I have hate the heat, so I am hibernating, haha.
      Thanks Robert.

      • robert87004 says:

        Leanne, I know I’d hibernate during the day too. Last June when we were over 100° F I would go out about 6:30 or 7:00 pm when the sun was low. It was still pretty hot but I’d go by the river, on the trails in the woods, which usually meant a breeze. It’s difficult to cope, for sure.

  12. Nia Simone says:

    Great article! I never thought about doing still lifes.

    I never realized plain sunlight was bad for photography or that I should think about shadows.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    • Leanne Cole says:

      They can be a great way of learning new things Nia.
      It depends on the sunlight really, but they say photograph is about shadows as well as light, and the shadows can be very sharp and very dark, the camera can also have a lot of trouble with it, because the light is so bright and the shadows are so dark. I try and avoid middle of the day photography in summer here.
      You are so welcome Nia, thank you.

  13. Great article – the wet weather here in the UK has been making me feel jaded, so this was a good kick up the pants – thanks, Leanne!

    • Leanne Cole says:

      That is great to hear Richard, the weather here actually makes you want to do nothing right now, very hard to get motivated. Thank you.

  14. lee says:

    Good post and keep drinking water! Hope you are doing OK in the heat, Leanne. From what I hear and see on the telly things look really bad down south all this week. Hope your mother is OK from the fires in the Mallee. At present we are a good 10 degrees cooler than you but may get the heat on the weekend.

    • Leanne Cole says:

      I hope you don’t get this Lee, it is horrible. too much all at once, though where my mum is they get this all the time. I couldn’t handle it. The worse part is our house has a flat roof, so no protection at all. I don’t know who thought flat roofs were a good idea. Thank you Lee.

  15. Jessica says:

    Great post! Fantastic ideas Leanne, thanks. Stay cool!!!!!!

  16. Even though the outside temp is 29ºF, heat wave, and all the snow has melted it is all very gray, dead and quite dirty in the Cleveland, OH area right now. I’m sure there is more winter on the way. It is hard to get any motivation to go outside. I almost wish I had your problem but I know the grass is not always greener on the other side of fence (World):-)

    Thank you so much for this article. It’s just the motivation that I need right now. I will be reading your blogs more regularly!

    • Leanne Cole says:

      I can understand the lack of motivation, it would hard. Here the lack of motivation is for everything, it is amazing how very strong heat can strip you of any energy. No you really don’t want our problem, it is far too much. The other part that I think people don’t realise with heatwaves here, it means fires, and lots of them. So while we are trying to stay cool, there is also the added worry of fires and worrying if everything will go up. It is a really scary time.
      I am glad you got some motivation from it, thank you.

  17. Robert says:

    Thanks Leanne for another thought provoking article. Gail (above) had some good advice about using the time to do utilities/maintenance..boring, yes but when your computer/hard drive fails you had best have your images backed up – which I do on both connected and off-line (dormant) drives as well as DVD.
    Learning is good too – one of the best sites I have found (although I will check your suggestions) is: – where they do have trial versions of tutorials. I’m very picky about online learning and this site is always a good choice.
    You are correct – there is ALWAYS something to shoot – sometimes we get lost in waiting for the grand shot to come along – when the most simple of subjects may be right under our noses.

    • Leanne Cole says:

      That is so true, it is a great time for doing the boring stuff. I have all that done too, now just need to get some hard disks to leave at friends house away from here.
      I haven’t heard of that one, will take a look. One of the things I like about creativeLIVE is that you can watch it for free when they are doing it, so you can work out if you really want it first.
      Thank you so much for your thoughts on this Robert.

  18. Anarette says:

    Learning new things and planning for trips is always on my list for those days that it is too cold or too hot to do something outside.

  19. Sheila says:

    Thanks, Leanne. I will be checking out the links for the still life tutorials you gave. I am stuck indoors due to the cold temps here in the US, and would love to do something new and creative inside. Thanks, again!

    • Leanne Cole says:

      I hope you find the links really helpful Sheila, though if you google still life tutorials you will find many more. Thank you.

  20. Jackie says:

    This is great article! Very helpful. Thanks. :-)

  21. rkpowers says:

    Another thing to pass the time away while inside is to get to know your camera backwards and forwards so that every button and toggle becomes second nature and you never have to take the camera away from your eye to make adjustments.

    • Leanne Cole says:

      That is a great idea, I should do that, I just realised I took a heap of photos the other night and I had accidently switched my ISO to auto, took me a while to work out how to put it back to manual.

  22. Hi Leanne, These are great ideas. I’m with you. I like to spend time working the photos in Photoshop rather than taking indoor pictures. Our winters are fairly mild, but we have bad air days in which everything looks filmy. Those are good days to stay inside, summer or winter. :)

    • Leanne Cole says:

      It is good to get some time to spend on photos, though with the heat we have been having, I don’t want to do anything, just sit around and veg. Our winters are mild too when you compare us with many other places in the world. Sounds like you are all sorted. Thanks Marsha.

  23. Lisa D says:

    If it’s the summer, you can always shoot in the early morning or practice night shooting too! You have good ideas!

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