Seven Tips for Better Winter Photography

Winter is a magical time of year and a favorite time to take photos. Here are some photo tips that may help when you and your camera step out into the cold.

It’s okay to overexpose. Snow can trick the light meter in your camera, resulting in dull, gray images. When photographing a winter scene, overexpose 1-2 stops to get white snow and a properly exposed photo.

Don’t be afraid of shadows. During winter, the sun is lower in the sky than it is during the warm months. This provides dramatic long shadows, especially in the evening. Take advantage of them.

Watch the weather. Keep an eye on the weather conditions, and be ready to exploit them. For example, one of the most dramatic winter phenomenons is hoar frost. Hoar frost occurs when a thin layer of moist air near the ground cools to below freezing and immediately forms ice crystals, without first condensing as liquid (dew). These crystals will coat any cold surface including trees grass, leaves, berries, and even spiders’ webs. When it happens, get out there early before the wind picks up during the day and blows it off.

Ice is nice. Winter brings frozen water, and when it freezes, you just never know what form it may take. Take note of areas that thaw under the heat of the sun and freeze again where the sun cannot reach like rock ledges or cracks.

Take another angle. One of the simplest things to do when taking a winter photograph is to find a different perspective. Look for angles from above or below the subject. This may be hiking up to an overlook or simply laying in the snow and shooting from ground level. Avoid taking photographs at eye level.

Let silhouettes take shape. Oftentimes when it comes to winter photography, you are not dealing with much color. Try keeping it simple by utilizing back light to create a silhouette. Point your camera at the brightest part of your image and press the shutter release button half way, but don’t let go. Then re-compose your image by pointing at the subject and take the photo. This should create a nice silhouetted image.

Capture the moment — every moment. When dealing with cold and the elements, sometimes the last thing on your mind is to take a photo. Often times this is the best time to take a photo because it will usually result in a dramatic image. An image that may show a serious facial expression or the seriousness of the situation. An image that will tell a story.

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