The weather is starting to turn a bit colder and before you know it winter will be here. Now, many people think winter isn’t a great time to go out and take photos (unless you have a fresh blanket of snow). But I beg to differ. Winter is a great time to get out there and take some photos.
I have found that some of my favorite sunset photos have come between the months of November and March. Plus I feel that the night sky is much more crisp and clear than in the warmer months. The light you get from the sun also doesn’t feel too harsh to me either. If it wasn’t for it being so cold outside, I wouldn’t mind always shooting in the winter.
Protecting yourself in the winter isn’t the only thing you have to worry about when you are going out in the colder months. You also have to protect your equipment. You might not think about it but your gear needs to be protected from the cold as well.
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Today we are going to go over some helpful tips for winter photography. While some might seem a little weird at first. Trust us and read all the way to the end. It will all make sense. These are the top winter photography tips for anyone to follow.
Pack Spare Batteries
Packing spare batteries is always a good idea no matter what time of year. However, in the winter months, it is very important. The cold weather can wreak havoc on your batteries. The colder temperatures can make your batteries die much faster than in the warmer months.
Not only should you pack a couple of spare batteries. You need to keep them warm. Keeping them in your pocket will help them stay warm. Once the battery in your camera dies put that one in your pocket too. There’s a good chance once it warms up that it still has juice left.
Of course, you want to bring a camera bag with you when you go out to take photos. But you need a good camera bag or at the very least a weatherproof cover. You want something that can keep the weather out of your bag.
There’s a good chance (depending on where you live) you will be going out when it snows. If you are hiking through the woods there’s that chance you knock some snow off a branch right on to your camera bag. You want to keep that snow out of your bag and a weatherproof or waterproof cover can really help.
This is one many people never think of. Having some ziplock bags with you is helpful for many reasons in the winter. Not only can it help keep water out of the equipment.
It can help keep the condensation out of your camera and lenses. When you move from a very cold place to a warm place your equipment can fog up. Placing your equipment in an airtight ziplock bag can help it slowly warm up. Just keep it in there for an hour or more to limit the chance of getting moisture in your camera body or lenses. Just remember to take your memory card out before you put the camera in the bag. You want to be able to edit those photos you just took.
This is a no-brainer. No matter what time of year it is. Having a good tripod is always a good idea. In the winter it is even more important.
You want to get a camera that has “spikes” on the feet. When you are out in the winter, there’s a good chance you will be around the ice. You don’t want your tripod or camera sliding around. Get a tripod with spikes to keep it in place.
You can also get snowshoes for your tripod. They help keep your tripod on top of the snow and it won’t sink into the snow as much.Manfrotto 230 Tripod Snow Shoes,Black
Having a good pair of winter gloves is the greatest thing you can ever bring out with you in the winter. You want to have your hands warm. Nothing worse than having cold hands when you are out taking photos.
Get yourself a good pair like this one that you can expose your thumb and finger. As you might know, it is a lot easier hitting the shutter release button with your finger uncovered than in a heavy glove.
Again this should be a no-brainer. After all, you are going to be outside in the elements. Make sure you are nice and toasty. Remember you can always remove layers as you get warmer.
It’s probably a good idea to pack some extra layers with you too. Definitely bring an extra pair of socks or two. You always want to keep your feet dry and warm in the winter.
You know those little hand warmers you can find for around a dollar? Get them. They are amazing to have in your bag when you are out and about shooting landscapes, cityscapes, street photography, or any other type of shooting you might be doing in the winter.
Most can last up to 10 hours and can keep your hands or feet nice and warm.
If you have a camera cleaning kit then you have one of these little air blower things. They work wonders when you are out in the winter wonderlands. You don’t want to wipe that snowflake off your lens with your hand or a cloth. It might melt and leave a streak.
Instead, pull out that handle little air blower. It can gently blow away that flake leaving your lens dry and streak-free.
Pay attention to where you walk
While you need to pay attention and make sure you are not walking on any thin ice. Sometimes footprints in the snow don’t make for the best photos. Sometimes they do. Try to look around the area before you start walking around.
Nothing is worse than finding the best composition only to see that your footprints ruined it. Footprints leading out into the unknown can look amazing. However, footprints that go around in circles don’t look too good.
Go Brighter (Exposure)
A fresh blanket of snow can trick your camera into thinking your image is bright enough. Guess what. It’s probably not. Kick the exposure up one or two. Just remember to check your image in camera and adjust as needed.
Go Colder (White Balance)
You could just use the auto white balance setting on your camera and the pictures will come out alright most of the time. Of course, you can even correct the white balance when using Lightroom or other photo editing software if you are shooting in RAW.
By manually setting your white balance to a colder setting you will get images that look better. They look colder and more blue. Now I normally just use the auto white balance feature on my Canon Camera. But when I am shooting winter landscapes I like to switch off auto and find the right setting for where I am shooting.
Get out early
Some of the best sunrises and sunsets I have ever gotten have come during the winter months. Now waking up early to go out and brave the snow can be rough. However, it is one of the best times to go out and find a landscape that hasn’t really been touched.
Plus this is a great time to find some of the area wildlife. Plus chances are you will be the only one out there. Many people don’t want to wake up early in the freezing cold and go out and take pictures. You will benefit by being the only one. Plus it might only be your footprints in the snow.
Don’t Forget water or snacks
Just because it is cold outside doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack water. Sure you could eat some snow (NO YELLOW SNOW). But you probably shouldn’t. Having water in your pack is a must.
While you are at it remember to back some snacks. Grab some nuts or beef jerky to help fuel your body while you are out trekking through the snow. All that walking in the the snow can make you really hunger and thirsty.
Keep Gear Cold
An important thing to remember is to keep your gear cold. Basically don’t keep bring your equipment in and out of the warm car or toasty house. If you do that. You have a better chance of moisture getting in to your camera gear.
Water and camera gear don’t mix. Keep your gear cold when planning on going out for a shoot. I like to put my gear in the car the night before. This way it can stay cold throughout the night and will be ready for me in the morning. Of course, remember to keep the batteries inside. Just don’t forget them like I often do.
No matter where, what, who, or how you shoot photos. Remember to always use the RAW file. It gives you better control when editing your photos. It is important if you use auto white balance or your images come out a little too dark or light (Under or Over exposed).
I shoot RAW every time I go out. I also use the JPEG & RAW setting on my camera. This way if I get a decent shoot in camera I can send it to my phone and post it right away with little to no editing.
Photographing winter wonderlands can be a lot of fun. Some of my favorite pictures have been taken between the months of November to March. The sunsets in winter are amazing. Snow cover fields are beautiful. Is there anything more amazing and beautiful than a snow covered mountain?
I hope you found these 15 tips for winter photography helpful. They have always helped me. Living in the Northeast, I’ve been through plenty of winters. You just need to remember to stay dry, stay warm, and stay focused.
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