For those of us with months of snow filled winter days ahead, I thought I’d share a few tricks on how to capture the best of the season with a camera in hand. Like any outdoor situation, photographing in winter presents a specific set of challenges.

365.1.8.13 (snowflakes)

Lucky for us, we’re going to be prepared. If you happen to be in another season or without snow, you can still make use of these tips when photographing white, reflective, or contrasty scenes.

Photographing Winter

The Challenges:

1. Shorter days leave us with less sunlight and time to record it.

2. Photographing outside in winter is like being stuck inside a snow globe; snowy white reflects off every surface.

3. Cold temperatures along with snow and sleet can wreck havoc on your gear.

365.1.12.13 ("I haven't seen The Vampire Strikes Out yet," he said).

The Solutions:

1. Capture available light. During any season, my favorite times of day to shoot are early-morning and late-afternoon scenes since colors are warmer during those hours. Winter is no exception. Midday light is extreme, all dramatic and cool. Learn how to use this to your advantage. Create long shadows with low-angled light. Backlight your subject for distinct silhouettes. Expose for the highlights and the shadows to create detail in snow filled scenes.  A trick I learned in school is to meter a scene with my camera, then add two stops so the scene isn’t underexposed.

2. Use filters on your lenses: a polarizing filter minimizes reflections; a graduated filter minimizes contrast between a bright sky and dark ground. If you’re shooting digital, check your white balance. Do a few test shots with in camera settings so there is less postprocess work ahead. To counter the snow globe affect, look for simple compositions and embrace negative space.

3. Be a photo scout and come prepared. Wear fingerless gloves (it’s hard to shoot with frozen fingers). Pack extra camera batteries since freezing temps drain them faster. Carry your camera outside in a resealable plastic bag so condensation forms on the bag instead of your gear. Don’t change lenses outside since moisture can sneak inside the camera body. Allow your camera to warm up when you head back inside.

scenes from winter

Cheers to the snowy days ahead. If you have any tips for photographing winter, please feel free to share them in the comments.

Happy shooting!


Nikki | Art & Lemons