Winter Photography Tips

Winter Sunset at Paine's Creek by John Tunney
Winter Sunset at Paine’s Creek

It’s a little quiet around here this time of year, which makes it a good time to shoot. Winter has its own special photographic opportunities and challenges. Here’s some quick tips:

– Batteries drain faster in cold weather. Bring a spare and/or a charger (consider a 12V converter for your car. It’s useful all year.)

– Exposure. Check your histogram and turn the blinkies on (highlight clipping warning). Snow confuses your camera and tends to make it under-expose a scene. It’s easily fixed in software, but you can also use exposure-compensation to increase exposure by 1-2 stops. Also, try spot metering and exposure lock and meter off of a neutral grey target.

– White Balance. Auto White balance usually works pretty well, but snow scenes may turn blue because of shadows and reflection from blue skies. This can look good…or not. You can change the white balance in software afterwards or experiment with some of the in-camera White Balance settings. Flash, Cloudy and Shade settings will all warm up the image a bit.

– Grey skies are dull and make boring pictures. If the sky is grey, compose so there’s less sky. If there are clouds, keep them. They can add texture and drama.

– Prevent condensation on your camera. Moisture and electronics are a bad mix. Condensation can temporarily or permanently damage your camera. If you’re heading inside after being in the cold, put your camera back in the bag and seal it before you go inside. Once inside, either leave the camera in the bag until it reaches room temperature or war it in a towel or plastic bag before removing it from the camera bag. If you leave your camera out while you drive around (not a great idea, but it happens), wrap it in a towel or plastic bag before you get in the car.

– Clothing. You’ll get better pictures if you’re not shivering. Use commons sense. Dress in layers, wear a hat, etc. Get some fingerless gloves or photographer’s gloves. You want the kind that have the tips of the fingers free and flap that covers them for warmth.

– Black & White. Winter is great time for black and white especially if theres snow. Shoot in color and then convert in soft are.

– Go big and small. Landscapes are a natural this time of year, but so are close-ups and macros. Look for a leaf frozen in ice; an icicle hanging off a branch, patterns in ice, etc.
# # #

Close Menu