The winter months bring a host of changes both welcomed and unwanted. Temperatures drop and daylight hours lessen. Trees and plants shed their greenery and are left bare in the biting cold. Snow sometimes falls and transforms our surroundings into a magical winter wonderland. Rivers, lakes, and ponds can freeze over with thick ice.
This change in condition, weather and landscape are simply fantastic for photography – the winter season can create some absolutely amazing photographs that simply can’t be produced at other times of the year. There is no denying however that winter photography can be tricky and if you want to take some spectacular shots, you must prepare accordingly! Luckily the following guide will help you fight through the winter weather and improve your photography during those cold months!
Understand your camera and its functions
It is first important to know how to operate your camera during winter. Due to various factors and weather anomalies, taking a photo during the winter months requires extra care and attention. The following are some basic tips relating to your camera and its functions:
Adjust your shutter speed to suit the situation
During the winter months, you are often presented with a host of moving objects such as snow and wildlife for example. Consider altering your shutter speed to suit each individual photo and to change the effect of the final photo. If you want crisp and sharp falling snowflakes, for example, you must have a quick shutter speed. Alternatively, if you want to create a blurry seen that emphasizes motion, consider choosing a slower shutter speed. Try altering the shutter speed to see what different effects you can create and how it affects your photo.
Manually change your exposure
Exposure is also key to taking successful winter photos. Oftentimes during the winter, you are presented with bright landscapes full of snow, or dull landscapes with shaded areas. If you allow your camera to automatically expose a photo, it may result in washed out areas – for example, a bright skyline or a snow-covered field may have little to no detail. Manually alter your exposure to tone down the brightness of these areas. Try and find a middle ground that has most parts of a photo correctly exposed – you can always change the exposure afterward using post-processing software too.
Consider using manual focus for low contrast images
Winter scenes often have low contrast and this makes it difficult to use the cameras autofocus feature. For example, if you are taking a photo of a snow-covered landscape, your camera may struggle to pick out a point to focus on. This can be frustrating and result in a host of blurred and out-of-focus photos. Consider switching to manual focus and picking out a focal point of your choice. In most cases, you will have to turn the focus ring on your camera lens until your chosen area becomes crystal clear and sharp.
Always carry a spare battery and warm casing
DSLR cameras do not always perform well in cold weather. Batteries, in particular, are prone to freezing and running out extremely quickly during the winter. It is important therefore to protect your equipment and carry a sufficient array of spares. Consider wrapping your camera and batteries in bubble-wrap for extra insulation, and take one or two spare fully-charged batteries with you in the winter. This will ensure your equipment remains warm, and if you do encounter problems, you have spares to continue shooting!
Let nature provide inspiration for your shots
Aside from changing the settings of your camera, you should also make use of what nature gives you during the winter season. As mentioned in the opening paragraphs, winter is like no other time and you can create some unique and interesting photos.
Use snowfall to your advantage to create interesting patterns. Look for bright colors such as berries or holly in-between the sea of whites and browns. Walk into towns to snap the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. Head out into the countryside and immerse yourself in the harsh but stunning winter landscapes. Use your imagination, explore and don’t be afraid to wrap up and head out of your home to see what magical photos you can create!
You should now feel a little more prepared to step out into the world and make the most of the winter weather. Don’t let the cold put you off – you really can take some beautiful and memorable photos during this time of the year!