Winter is a great time to get and take photos—if you’re prepared. Yes, you can safely use your camera outdoors in wintry weather. And with these simple tips, you can have more fun and get better photos while enjoying winter.
Marie’s 10 Winter Photography Tips
1.Dress properly. It’s no fun to be cold. I admit I am a cold wimp, but it’s so much more comfortable and fun to be warm when you’re out in cold weather. Layers work well, even with your gloves and mittens. One of my favorite finds is this pair of lightweight sport gloves that are thin enough to wear underneath my heavy gloves but still keep my hands warm and allow me to operate the controls on my camera with my hands protected. Bonus: they also work with my cell phone, so I can take a quick snap for Instagram or messaging without removing my gloves.
2. Keep your camera warm. Cold batteries are the cause of most camera problems. Cold batteries fail more quickly. Keep your camera inside your coat when not using it, if possible. Carry extra batteries and keep them in an inside pocket, as near to your body as possible to help keep them warm. You may have to switch batteries more frequently. When cold batteries warm up, they usually still work fine without a recharge.
3. Keep your camera dry. Errant snowballs and other hazards of winter are not good for your camera’s inner workings. If you have a few dollars to spend, you can buy special “rain gear” for your camera–it’s just as effective for snow. I purchased this one a few years ago. Not only is it inexpensive, it works. If you don’t want to purchase a “rain coat” or you don’t have time to wait for one to arrive, you can also cover your camera with a plastic zipper bag Leave an opening for the lens, which you can secure with a rubber band. When you are done photographing, put your camera inside a plastic bag when you bring it inside to protect it from condensation as it warms up. This includes when you get back into your warm car if you’re going to be n the car for some time. Keep it away from direct heat as it warms back up. Leave it in the bag until it reaches room temperature; resist the temptation to download or look at your photos right away. I know this is probably the hardest part of all, but it’s critical to a healthy camera.
4. Snow will fool your camera’s light meter. Setting your exposure manually is a good plan when photographing in the snow. If you can adjust the exposure, open it up an extra stop on a sunny, snowy day so your snow photos don’t all come out too dark.
5. Use your flash to help compensate for even harsher shadows when photographing people outside in the snow and sun. Sunny snow days create very harsh bright light. Snow acts like a giant reflector. Be mindful of your subjects and, when possible, position them so they aren’t being blinded by bright sun and snow reflections. Using a flash will help to minimize overly dark shadows on faces in portraits.
6. When photographing people, encourage them to wear bright colors which stand out wonderfully against the snow.
7. Get the family in action. Snowboarding, skiing, sledding and snowball fights all make great photos. Use the action mode on your camera if you don’t have manual settings.
8. Look for close-ups of natural items in the snow—winter berries, pine cones, plants and rocks all look completely different covered in snow and ice.
9. Head out–carefully–after a snow or ice storm. Snow- and ice-covered objects, both natural and man-made make great subjects for artistic photographs. If necessary, consider investing in a pair of traction cleats like these for the bottom of your shoes to help with your grip on the ice. They aren’t expensive and they are a LOT less expensive than a trip to the emergency room. A slip on the ice that breaks your camera could ruin your outing, but one that breaks your arm could ruin your winter.
10. Try something different. If your camera has a macro or close-up feature, try photographing snowflakes and icicles for unique winter patterns.
11. Have fun. Experiment with colors, textures, patterns and exposure. Winter is a season like no other for photography.
Have any questions about winter photography or about anything you see here? Please leave your questions and feedback in the comment section below.