“Shropshire? Oooh, You’ll get a lot of weather up there!”
That’s what most people in London said when they heard I was moving to Shropshire in 1997. (The next question was: where is Shropshire?)
The joy of living in the Welsh Borders is that we certainly experience all four seasons, so when the BBC launched their WeatherWatchers service in November 2015 it made sense for me to sign up. I filed my first image on the 6th of January 2016. To date, I have uploaded over 1377 images. And over 10% of these have been broadcast on both national and regional television forecasts.
So, if you’ve always fancied being a WeatherWatcher, here are my six top tips.
1 – Get an Account!
You can’t become a WeatherWatcher until you’ve created an account. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/weatherwatchers. Before you do so, think about your nickname (I’m Snapper Simon). Many people link their nickname to their location, but you don’t have to. You also need to select your default location. It makes sense to select your locality, because this will be where you will probably take most of your photos. But, don’t worry, because if you’re out and about elsewhere, you can always change your location.
2 – Focus On The Weather!
It’s obvious, but focus on the weather, not the view or scene that you’re taking. They don’t want photos with identifiable people in the images. Nor should you include anything that identifies you or where live. So focus on the weather!
3 – It’s Not Just About What’s Happening In The Sky
There’s more to weather than just looking up in the sky. Look around at all the different ways the weather is affecting the world around us. It makes ponds icy, forces us to carry umbrellas, and blows snow against waymarker posts. Look for different ways to illustrate the weather.
4 – Think Top Right.
If you’re lucky enough to have your photo selected from the (tens of) thousands of images the BBC gets every day, you will see that a lot of your photo is blocked from view. Firstly, the weather presenter stands on the left of the screen, so this means the left third/quarter of your image isn’t visible all the time. And then, when you are credited, your nickname appears across the bottom right of the screen. This means that the key weather feature needs to be in the top right-hand quadrant of the screen.
5 – Use Your Smartphone
Upload your images as soon as possible. I take all my photos on my smartphone. With a 4G signal, you can upload your image seconds after taking it. My record is an image appearing on the national weather forecast, about 15 minutes after I’d taken it. (I was still out on my walk at the time!)
6 – Make It A Habit!
Upload something every day – upload several images throughout the day. (But don’t overdo it.) The BBC doesn’t like you uploading more than 10 photos of day. That’s because, if you scroll down to the bottom of the WeatherWatchers page, you’ll see a bank of photos taken by other WeatherWatchers near you. They like to see images from as many different WeatherWatchers as possible. It’s best if you take several photos across the entire day, capturing how the weather changes as they day progresses.
And that’s all there is to it! All you need now is a bit of weather. Thankfully, in the UK, we never short of that. (Well, not in Shropshire, anyway 🤣.)