Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean it’s time to pack your camera away!
While many photographers dread the long winter months, winter is a great time for taking some spectacular images
Before you head out, make sure your camera is prepared for the cold weather. Winter camera essentials include a UV filter, to protect the lens, and an extra rain cover to protect your camera. Bring a lens cleaning cloth to keep moisture off your lens, and of course, a camera strap as an important precaution in case your camera slips out of your hands.
Consider Your Composition
Composition is what makes or breaks the photograph. With winter photography, the abundance of monochrome and dreary weather makes it especially important to get creative with your compositions. Avoid unnecessary, negative space in your photos. Look for things such as trees, fences, or rocks to break up the snow and add contrast to your photos.
Know When to Go
Many landscape photographers recommend heading out just after a winter storm. Photographing a storm while it is clearing up is a good time to capture the storm’s intense nature. The spectacular lighting that can be found after a winter storm can also create some dramatic and beautiful shots.
For portraits or for nature shots, it’s usually best to choose a time when the weather isn’t too dramatic. Heading out in the middle of a snow blizzard probably isn’t the best idea! Additionally, taking portraits when there is bright sun reflecting off the fresh fallen snow can also present a photography challenge. It’s usually best to wait until it’s slightly overcast, as this light will create a “soft box” effect, producing evenly lit subjects.
ADJUST YOUR SETTINGS
Due to the camera’s tendency to meter off the bright white snow, winter photography is often underexposed. Thankfully, there’s a simple way to combat underexposure. When faced with an underexposed photo, adjust your exposure dial up +1 or +2 and see what happens.
2. Shutter Speeds
Experimenting with different shutter speeds can create some fun effects with winter photography. You can use a tripod and slow shutter speed, such as 1/15, to create all kinds of interesting photos. This works great for blurring running water, or creating streaking effects with falling snow.
3. White Balance
Snow that is in the shade often appears blue in photos. Adjusting your white balance setting to “shade” can often help to reduce this.
COMBAT THE CHALLENGES
1. Plan ahead
Since winter daylight hours are fast and fleeting, it’s a good idea to scout out locations to shoot ahead of time. Plan early and get out there before the light is gone!
2. Watch the flash
A flash will tend to bounce off snow and create overexposed photos. If it’s snowing, the flash will turn the snowflakes into floating balls of light that won’t be very appealing. If you do use the flash, be sure to bounce it effectively, or use a fill flash.
3. Look for the light
Keep a close eye on the changing light in order to adjust your camera settings and angles. Some of the best winter scenic shots tend to be taken early in the day while the light is golden. For the best exposure with portraits try to shoot with the sun to the side of your subjects during morning and evening, and with the sun behind you during the middle of the day.
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