Winter Photography Tips – How To Shoot Great Pictures In The Snow
Don’t feel down if it’s snowing outside right now, and make the most of it while you can by following these winter photography tips, and then venture out there in the cold, and have some real photography fun in the snow.
Some photographers choose to hide their camera during the winter season and who can blame them? Low temperatures, especially below zero, can cause frostbite, plus it can also damage your camera. But what those photographers may not realize is that creating images in the cold present unique opportunities.
Shooting in the snow can bring up some testing challenges, but challenges often produce the best of everything, even in photography. For this article, we are going to tackle those challenges as well as some great tips to create beautiful and stunning winter-like images.
First and foremost is to dress up warm. A heavy jacket with a zipper would be a good choice because you can keep your camera near your body when you are not shooting to stop it from freezing up. Choose gloves that will fully protect your fingers from frostbite, but also make sure that it will give you the right amount of freedom to use your equipment.
Speaking of equipment, the cold can really do a number on your precious camera. One thing that can really affect your camera hardware is condensation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that bringing a moist camera into the cold can freeze up the body, the lens, and fog up the LCD. Make sure that your camera is moisture free by putting them in air tight zip-lock bags with a dry towel inside. The zip-lock bag will facilitate the gradual change of temperature while the dry towel will suck out any remaining moisture.
It’s also a good idea to bring lots of extra batteries because the cold weather can drain them pretty fast. Keep your spares in a pocket near to your body so they can remain toasty warm or just leave them inside your car wrapped in a blanket. Spare memory cards can also come in handy because some card brands don’t work well in the cold.
Moving on to the Actual Snow Photography Shooting Tips
The advantage of taking pictures in the fresh snow is that you have a white and striking background; the problem is that snow is highly reflective so your pictures might come out as too overexposed. A good thing to do is to consider snow as a reflector or a secondary source of light. By doing so, you can adjust your camera settings to get the best outcome.
If your camera has a winter mode or snow setting then for starters you can use this. But if you really want to shoot like the pros then ditch the snow mode and go for manual. By doing so, you will take better pictures and get to experiment with different aperture and shutter speed combinations.
One of the most common dilemmas when shooting in the snow is white balance. As your camera sees the eternal whiteness of snow plus the blaring sunlight, the camera tends to produce a bluish to grayish tint when set in auto mode. The reason behind this is that the camera sees too much brightness and it responds by making the very white to grayish or bluish.
You can avoid this by manually setting the white balance to cloudy setting. Another way of coming up with a better image is to overexpose your image intentionally. You can start with a one stop overexposure just to get the feel of it and then you can move to 1.5 to 2 or 3 depending on the weather and whether you are already feeling comfortable in overexposure or not.
If there are lots of shadows in your shot, you can use your flash to eliminate them. Apart from removing the shadows, it will also help the snow to become much brighter. Using the flash can also highlight subjects that would appear much darker due to a white background of snow behind them.
When it starts to snow then this can also be a good chance to create even more breathtaking pictures. The simple falling of snow is already wonderful but you can add a touch of drama to your images by setting your camera to a long exposure shot. This can be done by having a slower shutter speed so you may want to carry your tripod to prevent camera shake. But if you want to freeze the snowflakes in mid-air then you can always set the shutter speed to 1/200 to 1/250 depending on how fast they are falling.
If you really want to capture falling snow at its best then shoot at the earliest time possible, as long as you get the right amount of natural light that you need, and you will also notice how the rising sun creates interesting lines which will greatly improve the final look of your photos. Another advantage of shooting at an early time is that any virgin frost wouldn’t have melted yet so set your alarm clock and wake up before the sun melts all the crystals away.
Look for frosted branches, snow on the trees, frozen water, or anything that offers great patterns and textures. Snow can look pretty bland so don’t hesitate to add some detail to make your picture more interesting. Just don’t cram everything you see all in one picture, simplicity is beauty.
Taking photographs in the snow can be challenging but at the same time, very rewarding. Now that I’ve shared with you some excellent tips you can now pick up your camera, go outside, and try them out for yourself. Just remember that safety is always first, protect your gear, take a lot of shots, and come inside the house every now and then for some hot coco and mallows. Enjoy!