Winter Photography Tips

Yes, it's almost Christmas and yes, there's the tree to decorate, and those holiday cards aren't going to print themselves, and you really should untangle those strings of lights. But winter isn't just about Christmas so if you feel like taking a break from Santa and his friends here are a few tips for capturing some non-Christmas winter snaps.

1. Get your equipment prepared. Don't forget spare batteries (the cold will sap their energy faster) and try and think about packing some hand warmers in your camera bag to keep your camera all warm and toasty.

2. Overexpose! One of the main problems with photographing snow is the fact it's so shiny and white. Your camera's light metre will struggle with all that white shininess and read it as grey. Many point and shoot cameras have a "snow" mode you can use or for a DSLR try overexposing the shots (try +1 or +2 if you have automatic exposure compensation).

3. Try a graduated filter.
For grey-sky days a graduated filter can give the sky a bit of colour and make the pictures look a little less overcast. The advantage of a graduated filter is that it'll leave the foreground of your shots with the natural lighting.

4. Snow looks pretty by moonlight. Yes, it's even colder if you go outside at night but snow can look especially pretty by moonlight or the reflection of outdoor lights. Wrap up warm, grab a tripod, and give it a shot!

5. You don't need snow to get winter shots. If your area doesn't get snow that doesn't mean you can't get good winter photos. Often winter skies make for interesting shots, and ice or frost can also be great subjects.

Ice Cold Photography

npsmall.jpg I spent this past weekend in Chicago and, as you may know, it was FREEZING in Chicago this past weekend. But since a mere 6 months ago I was living in Alaska I know that extreme cold doesn't mean I can't take my camera out and I now have some lovely photos of very cold Chicago dwellers. For those of you that have never yet ventured out with your camera at 25 below but think you might be brave enough this winter here are a few tips:

Use A UV Filter
They are a hell of a lot cheaper to replace than a lens. Extreme cold makes glass more brittle, last winter I was out shooting at -30F, put my camera down, gently, and the UV filter simply shattered. But it cost ten bucks to replace so I didn't have to be too worried!

Get A Good Camera Bag and Heat It!
A decent camera bag is a worthwhile investment anyway but especially if you do a lot of outdoor photography. In the cold it'll offer some protection by itself and you can make it even better by padding around the camera with hand or foot warmers (they cost about $2 at sports stores). Wrap them in a thin cloth first to protect the camera in case they leak little carbon particles.

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