The dark days have come, rain, wind, cold. And maybe snow again soon. Those are not the most ideal conditions for photography. Would you say. Because even though it’s freezing cold and the sun is low on the horizon, it’s still worth taking your camera out. Winter offers beautiful nature that you as a photographer do not want to miss. In this blog we give useful tips for shooting in the winter.
Shooting in the winter: the preparation
First of all, it is important that you dress warmly enough. Just think of the advice you used to receive from your father or mother: ‘Dress warmly and close your coat properly!’. This tip is pretty obvious, of course. But I still hear from colleagues that they don’t go out with their in the winter camera or camcorder. Too cold, too wet! While shooting in the winter is just so beautiful.
Especially if you photograph winter landscapes, you generally stand still more. Then you quickly get cold. You can prevent this by wearing clothes in different layers. You can adjust the number of layers to the activities you will be doing during the photography. It makes a big difference whether you stop for a few hours for ‘that one photo opportunity’, or whether you walk through the snow a lot. If you get too hot, you start to sweat and when you stand still you cool down very quickly.
Your feet and head are extra vulnerable to the cold. Therefore, always wear footwear with good insulating soles and socks that transport the moisture away from your feet. In addition, a good hat that keeps your head and ears warm.
Batteries during winter shooting
Batteries and batteries do not like cold. They then lose their capacity very quickly. So make sure you have extra batteries and/or batteries, so that you can replace the empty ones if necessary. Store the batteries and batteries in a warm place, preferably close to your body. That way they aren’t already deflated before you put them in your camera. Make sure you use as little battery as possible. So do not extensively view your photos via the LCD screen. And when it is (quite) dark when you shoot, set the brightness of the LCD screen to the lowest setting. This saves a lot of energy.
The snow is at its best when no one has walked through it yet. If you want to photograph such a pristine snow carpet, go out early in the morning or look for places where few people come. Also pay attention to your own footsteps, before you know it they will be in the photo. Don’t just take overview photos, but also focus on the details to tell the story.
Exposure and white balance
Thanks to the reflection from the snow, you have much more light, which even on a gloomy day is often sufficient for reasonably fast shutter speeds. Keep an eye on your white balance. Often snow photos show an ugly, blue cast. So try a slightly warmer camera setting such as ‘cloudy’. If you photograph in RAW format (see next tip), you can also correct such a color cast afterwards.
Shoot in winter conditions in RAW format instead of JPG. The photos take up more space, but you’ll definitely benefit from them while editing. Because there is more information in the file, you can edit the photos better without deteriorating quality. It is of course best to pay close attention to the light while shooting, but if you still lack light in these dark days, then you have the Photoshop RAW converter on hand, for example.
Chance of ripe!
Especially in winter, but also in late autumn and early spring, you have a chance of night frost and fog. And as a wildlife photographer, you know that you have a chance of frost in those conditions. Frost is a white layer of ice that forms when it freezes and the cold water vapor in the air turns into ice crystals. During a humid night with temperatures below zero you have a high chance of frost. You find the frost everywhere. On the roofs of houses, on car windows and also in nature. In general: the finer the structure of an object, the more frost is deposited on it. A good example are birch trees. They have a very fine twig structure and are a perfect surface for the frost to settle on. Ripe will usually not last long on the branches and leaves, unless the temperature remains around or below 0 degrees Celsius. So I refer to my previous tip: get out early!
Just because there’s not always snow and ice, doesn’t mean there’s nothing to photograph. During the winter there are plenty of mornings when it is still freezing and that is the time to hit the road for winter photos. Unlike shooting in the snow, you don’t have to worry about exposure compensation. The photo will not become too dark so quickly.
Play with autofocus
The autofocus normally works fine, but as soon as it starts snowing, the focus is distracted by the fluttering snowflakes. My advice is then to use only the center AF field instead of the outer autofocus fields. The midfield is by far the most sensitive and works very accurately. However, if it snows harder, the only option is to focus completely manually. This is difficult and requires a lot of patience. But you will be rewarded in the end, because heavy snowfall can make for beautiful pictures. Choose a dark background, so that the falling flakes are clearly visible in the photo.
Black and white photography
Are you done shooting? Convert your photo (via Photoshop) to black and white. This way the bare trees and the gray weather are no longer noticeable. And the white snow really stands out! Make sure that the contrast is not too low and everything becomes a gray mush. Different things automatically stand out in a color photo than in a black and white photo, then you suddenly see extra shapes and incorrect shadows can be disturbing. It is useful to be aware of this while shooting.
More tips on shooting in the winter?
Do you have any handy tips for shooting in the winter? Share your tips in the comment at the bottom of this article. And also take a look at the range of cameras and Camcorders from Kamera Express.
We also wrote a separate blog with tips for photographing people.