10 Tips for Winter Photography

Gloves? Check. Warm camera battery? Check. Now get outside and start photographing!

01-12-2010 // Rob Sheppard
Winter sunset in Maine by Rob Sheppard

This winter has brought some tough snow and cold conditions to much of the country. A lot of people not only quit going outside, but also quit taking photos of nature. Nature is still around in winter, and if you keep your camera from hibernating, you will find some great photo ops around you.
Here are some tips to help you get better photos in winter:

1. Keep an extra battery warm.

Your camera will do fine in the cold, but your batteries won’t. Be ready to trade a cold battery for a warm one if you camera stops working properly.

2. Find a pair of flexible gloves.

I have found nice fleece gloves with a rubberized grip that work very well (fleece gloves need the grip because the fleece is too slippery on a camera). A store that sells hunting clothing will often have great gloves for photographers, too (although you might have to try out a camouflage style).

3. Use a two-glove system when it is really cold.

I usually have a lighter pair of gloves for shooting, then a large pair of mittens to go over them in between shots.

4. Wear warm boots and socks.

Photographers often stand around a bit as they wait for sunset, for example, so warm boots are really a plus.

5. Watch your exposure.

Snow is white and should usually look white in a photograph, not gray. Snow scenes often cause a camera to underexpose it. Try increasing your exposure compensation by a full step (most digital cameras have this ability).

Snowy owl by Kevin McCarthy

6. Never bring a cold camera directly into a warm space.

This can cause very unwelcome condensation on—and much worse, inside—your camera. Put your camera inside a zipped camera bag or inside a plastic Zip-Loc or other sealable bag, then bring it inside to warm up.

7. Get outside right after it snows.

Some of the best snow conditions for photography happen then.

8. Get outside right after a quick drop in temperature.

That's when you often find some fantastic ice formations to photograph.

Icy branch by Darla Oathout

9. Photograph snow and ice at sunrise and sunset.

Winter sunsets are early and often have great color. Both sunrise and sunset color reflects in the snow and ice.

10. If you get serious about winter photography, think about investing in a pair of snowshoes.

Snowshoes will get you just about anywhere you need to be for a photograph. Skis can limit where you can go, and snow is often too deep to walk in regular shoes for any distance. Plus the speed at which you travel on snowshoes is about right for photography.

 

Rob Sheppard is a photographer, writer and photography teacher in southern California. He is the former editor of Outdoor Photographer and PC Photo magazines. Visit his blog Nature and Photography for more photography tips.

 

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