Fall is wrapping up in these parts and many people are beginning to prepare for the winter season. Many people see winter as the season when photography hibernates. However, for the adventurous photographer, winter is just another time to go out and capture some great images.
If you’re not too bothered by the cold and feeling up to the challenge, we have a few tips on how you can make your winter photographs come out with stunning colors instead of stultifying grays.
First of all, remember to use flash. Even in a seemingly well-lit setting outside, in winter, you may need to use flash to make up for the difference in the sun’s angle. Also, overcast days tend to be more common in winter so you may find yourself missing natural light. Many winter photographs come out with very little color for this reason. So, don’t just let your meter try to figure it out on its own. Use flash and experiment a bit. Additionally, you can use a graduated filter to give the sky some color while keeping the foreground natural.
Next, prepare yourself and your camera for the conditions outside. Consider covering your camera with a plastic bag to keep it from getting wet if you don’t have a waterproof housing for it. Also, wipe the lens off if snow or water gets on it. Since the air is colder, blowing either off may result in the condensation from your breath getting inside and freezing later on. Keep pocket and hand warmers on you in order to keep your camera warmed up. For yourself, dress warmly in layers that will keep you warm even if you work up a sweat hiking. You may also want to spend some time beforehand practicing using your camera with the gloves you’ll be wearing. Also, your attitude is essential to winter photography. If all you can do is think about how you’d much rather be inside, curled up under a blanket, drinking hot chocolate and reading a good book, your photos will reflect that reluctance.
If you’re out photographing during the day, the best times (due to the angle and of the sun) are probably going to be around the early morning and the late afternoon. Also, keep a fill flash on you to provide additional light if the sky is grey and overcast or if there isn’t much contrast in the landscape due to the uniform color and blanketing effect of snow. Additionally, try to take the same photo from multiple angles. And, always be on the lookout for new opportunities. Sunny days in the winter could mean a very brief melt over the ice on some rocks, creating a pretty waterfall. Melting icicles can create impromptu prisms. Be creative and aware of your surroundings and Mother Nature will always show you something worth photographing — even in the winter!
– da Bird