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Essential Winter Landscape Photography Tips

Essential Winter Landscape Photography Tips

Depending on where you live, cold temperatures and perhaps even snow may be in your forecast. If you enjoy getting outdoors to shoot, you face a few more challenges during the cold winter months. Although freshly fallen snow can make for very beautiful and striking images, it can be more difficult when the thermometer dips below freezing. We’ve provided some helpful winter landscape photography tips to get you started.

Go out early
For the best snow landscape photography, try to get out as soon after snowfall as possible. Ideally, get out while it's still snowing. If you wait too long the nice pristine snow may be history as people or animals have tracked through. After an overnight snow, plan to head out for sunrise. The snow will be in good condition, plus you’ll have great light to work with.

Ice can be cool
Another great winter landscape photography tip is to look for interesting ice formations to include in your composition. This could be anything from icicles to sheets of ice formed on natural surfaces. Mother Nature makes some very interesting sculptures. Take some time to find them and see how they can be used in your snow landscape photography.

Look for color
There may not always be a lot of color in a winter landscape scene. Trees without leaves and snow create a mostly monochromatic landscape. However, if you can work just a splash of color into the scene, it can make a big difference in an image. Look for things to include that contrast well with blues. A touch of golden light from the sun could be all you need. If that doesn't work out, look for other things on the yellow to orange side of the color wheel to provide some nice contrast and visual interest in your snow landscape photography.

Shoot black & white
A lot of times there just isn't much color in a winter landscape. If it’s covered in snow, then most things will be white and everything else may be different shades of gray and brown. Add in a dull, overcast sky and there isn't much of an interesting color palette. If that’s the case, don't be afraid to just shoot in black and white. Pay more attention to light and shadow and different tones in the image. Assuming you’re shooing in RAW format, you could just change the image to black and white in post. However, changing your Sony Alpha a5100 camera from picture style to black and white will allow you to see what an image will look like while in the field. Then you can adjust settings and composition for a more dramatic snow landscape photography capture.

Take advantage of the low-angle sun
One of the cool things about winter is that the sun stays relatively close to the horizon all day. Because of this, the light is less harsh, even in the middle of the day. The lower angle of the sun can create dramatic light and shadows and might make it possible to shoot all day, or at least for a lot longer than you would during the summer months. Another advantage of the lower sun angle is that it’s easier to include the sun in your landscape images at times other than sunrise and sunset.

Don't forget the details
Remember that there’s more to a snow landscape photography scene than the wide sweeping vistas of mountains and fields. There are so many other smaller details to shoot. Look for more intimate landscapes. One way to do this is to take off the wide angle lens and put on a telephoto from to zoom into a scene. You could capture the way the light is hitting a single tree or part or a tree; frozen bubbles in ice on a small pond; or a unique formation created by wind-blown snow. The possibilities really are endless, and only limited by your imagination.

Frightful weather can make dramatic images
The weather outside may be frightful, but don't let that keep you from going out to create snow landscape photography images with your action camera from Head out into the storm to look for dramatic image opportunities. Clouds can give a landscape image much more interest, but make sure there’s more detail than just flat, overcast skies. Falling snow or blowing winds can also create a much more dynamic scene. Try dragging the shutter to show some movement.

Use a polarizer
A circular polarizer filter is good to have for any type of landscape photography. It will work the same and provide many of the same advantages for winter landscape photography. A polarizer will help to make a blue sky darker and can enhance cloud detail. It’s also good for cutting through glare and generally saturating colors. Just be careful to not over-polarize the snow landscape photography scene. This will make the sky look unnatural. Winter landscape photography is a great way to spend those cold months. You can capture stunning views of a white wonderland. And you’ll relieve cabin fever while keeping your photography skills fresh.
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