5 Tips for better Winter Photography


Winter is one of my favorite seasons for photography, especially landscapes. Here are ten quick tips for better winter photographs.

1 Bring multiple batteries. The cold sucks the life out of your battery quicker than when in warm weather. Even when your camera is not in use your cameras batteries will lose charge. Keep your back up batteries in a pocket close to your body to keep them warm making them lose charge slower.

2 Be careful when changing lenses. When you take your camera’s lens off it exposes the cameras sensor. If you get snow inside your camera it will be ruined. Be very cautious. 

3 Pay attention to your exposure. When your camera tries to expose for a scene it thinks it needs to make whatever it sees 18% grey. This is because it has a reflective light meter within in it. Regardless of if your camera is pointed at a polar bear in a snow storm or a black bear in a cave it thinks the scene needs to look grey. To compensate for this adjust your exposure compensation to +2/3 of a stop. This will give you a more accurate exposure with the snow looking white instead of grey. Be careful not to make the image to bright though. Making an image to bright is called overexposure. If you do this the snow will turn pure white and there will be no information in the overexposed areas. Check the histogram on your camera to make sure your exposure is correct. If the histogram has pixels touching the far right corner of the chart then you will be overexposed. Avoid this. This means that these pixels are so bright they will not be able to be darkened in post.  

The most accurate way to expose for snow is to use an incident light meter but this is not required. 

4 Focus on areas with contrast. Your camera has a far easier time focusing on something with contrast, like someone’s eye, than something without contrast, like a white backdrop. Your camera’s autofocus will have a hard time focusing on snow. When making landscape photographs in winter focus on things with contrast like trees to ensure your images will be in focus. 

5 Use gloves which allow you to reveal your fingers with ease. In 2016 I started using special glove-mitten hybrids which allow me to easily flip back the tops of the gloves so I can use my fingers to adjust settings on my camera. I personally find it difficult to operate my camera with large gloves or mittens. These gloves have proven to be very helpful and I would highly recommend getting a pair or something similar. 

Find this article helpful? Consider supporting Ryan Watkins Photography on Patreon. 

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