Last Updated on November 12, 2017 by gregor
Taking good-quality photos isn’t easy and doing it in the winter just makes your job a bit more difficult. Fingers freeze, camera’s battery dies, and everything looks boringly white. There are many obstacles you will encounter when doing photography during the coldest months of the year. However, taking photos is one of the most important parts of any holiday in a modern world so we wanted to share a few quick and easy tips and ideas that will get you started. Despite wintery weather, take your camera or smartphone where ever you decide to go.
Right gear is the most important thing
Extreme conditions are hard for sensitive electronics and photography equipment aren’t an exception. Carry a flash with you if it’s not part of your camera and for snowfall shots having a stand is a must. Remember that you usually can’t set your camera on the ground because it’s wet and snowy. If your camera allows filming videos, try it between your photography session.
Secondly, you should think about the weather. There are many differences between summer and winter photography. We don’t recommend taking the most expensive camera you have if it’s bad weather outside. Do some research and check out what are the ideal weather conditions for your equipment. It’s also important to remember that taking a camera from freezing temperatures to warm room temperature may break your dear friend. The best way would be to take it back to warmth rising temperature step by step.
Some travelers use only phone cameras but in the winter your fingers freeze quickly, and rain may interrupt your phone usage. In this situation or if your camera has a touchscreen, get some touch screen optimized gloves.
Last but not least, dress appropriately to keep you warm while waiting for the perfect shot and take a thermos with a hot beverage to keep you hydrated.
Plan before going or always carry a camera with you
There are two ways to go about winter photography. You have to either plan the photoshoots beforehand or always carry a camera with you. The sceneries change quickly in winter so if you discover a good place, visit it again with a camera as soon as possible. Having a camera close-by, is very handy. Remember to take action shots because someone playing in the snow or admiring the snowfall is perfect winter photo material. The only downside of always having a camera is keeping good care of it. Being a long time outside and having your equipment in your bag isn’t good for it.
Some places can only be planned in advance and this is usually the case if you are traveling. Use the internet to find the best winter photography spots near you before going outside with your camera. If the weather is cold, this will save you from hours of freezing. When you have planned everything, it will also be easier to snap that perfect winter photo. You can easily take more equipment like a stand with you and even dress the objects of your photos nicely. Start your plan by thinking about the light. It may be hard to take photos in darkness but sometimes sunlight and snow won’t cooperate either.
Enjoy the whiteness- White Balance
If you are lucky, you can have a lovely white winter weather. For beginner photography lovers, this sounds like a dream but may quickly become a problem as it’s hard to take photos of a place that is almost fully white. Our best tip? Learn a bit about using white balance before leaving for your winter adventure. Shutting down the auto white balance might sound presumptuous but keep trying and you will succeed at some point.
Here is also a nice Video about how to make snow look white in your photos. Just Overexpose your photography by 1 to 1,5 stops.
Christmas spirit- Ho Ho
Winter isn’t all about the breath-taking sceneries. Christmas and the time preceding it, is the perfect season for photographers. Go for Christmas markets, spend time with your family or keep your eyes open to see Santa Claus and elves. There are almost endless possibilities. Colorful Christmas lights are a good place to start when you want to capture the real holiday season atmosphere. Another idea would be to photograph happy people smiling, laughing and having fun or children throwing snow balls and building a snowman.
Like every feast Christmas also has its “dark side”. Photography is about your view of specific things. That’s why just taking photos of the colorful happy Christmas isn’t always enough. Brainstorm and try to find a different angle. Maybe you can take photos of the people who don’t celebrate Christmas? Or one idea would be photographing the stressed-out parents who are doing their last-minute shopping. You will get the best photos when going out of your own comfort zone and trying something a little different.
Beautiful fireworks and New Year’s Eve
Another winter holiday that is a paradise for photographers is, of course, New Year’s Eve. What would be a better target for a photographer than colorful fireworks? Unlike Christmas New Year lasts only for the day and so you won’t have time to retake the failed shots. Sipping a few drinks with friends and then going to take photos together may sound fun but in practice, it’s not that good of an idea. Plan ahead and make sure you have everything you need for this photography session. Well planned is half done.
Snapping a photo of fireworks isn’t the easiest task but possible even for starting photographers. First, you must find the perfect place as there isn’t much time for changing spots after the clock turns to midnight. Secondly, take a tripod with you or find a steady surface for your camera. Play with your camera beforehand and find out the best sets to take photos in the dark with it. Then just start clicking and try to get at least one quality photo. Remember not to move your camera! And if you fail, there will always be next year to try again.
Be ready when it snows…
Usually, when we think about winter photography, we think about snowfall. First snow is the most magical of all but it also means that you have to be ready when it happens. Keep checking weather forecasts and carry your camera in your bag if they promise snow. Taking photos of snowfall is fairly hard but not impossible. You have to learn to use shutter speed to take better snowfall photos. Try slow shutter speed to get a photo of snow falling down foggily or use fast shutter speed to capture snow mid-air frozen. Always use a tripod or secure surface for your camera. Otherwise, your photos will be overbalanced or the falling snow won’t show up on them.
… or snap photos of the depressing rain
Let’s be real… sometimes it just won’t snow or maybe you are spending winter in a warm place. In these cases, work with the things you have. Not every winter photo has to be beautifully white. Go outside and take nostalgic photos of the rain or people having fun despite it not being as wintery as they would like it to be. To make a difference between your autumn and winter photos add some kind of reminder that makes everyone who sees your photo to think of winter. Christmas lights, warm winter clothes or anything really. Use your imagination.
Macro photography with snowflakes and ice crystals
We have mostly talked about photographing sceneries but you can also take a closer angle to winter. If your camera doesn’t fit for taking macro photos, get an additional macro lens. You won’t regret it. Photos of small snowflakes from up close are magical. Did you know that every snowflake is unique? This means you can get as many different photos as there are snowflakes. Do take many pictures of the same snowflake from different angles as you won’t see them closely enough from the small screen of your camera.
The small flower-like and star-like wonders are hard to capture because they usually disappear after touching something. You can try photographing snowflake that falls from your hand, window, or any other surface but our tip is to find snowflakes that have clung to other snowflakes. Look the branches of trees, corners or your home or street signs.
You don’t always have to be outside
One good thing about winter is that you can spend time inside without feeling guilty. Have inside photoshoots with your friends or search for other fun places to use your camera. Museums that allow photography usually have a lot of interesting possibilities for beginner photographers. There are a lot of things to use as props when you are inside. Just to share a few ideas with you: take photos of food, your kids, and animals, the view outside of your window or even just funny patterns like a ceiling.
You should remember this tip even when having outside photo shoots. Sooner or later you have to go inside to warm-up and it’s important that you don’t put your camera down even at this time. Capture your steaming cup of hot chocolate or your best friend’s red cheeks. Those who want to add a fun element to their photos can take outside photos inside and inside photos outside. Meaning that you will dress like you were inside when having photography session outside and for example wear skis when taking photos inside.
Play with snow
Take your friends with you and just have fun. Build a snowman, have snow fighta or just throw snow in the air. Some of the best photos taken during winter will be of you and your closest ones having fun. It’s the true winter spirit. Don’t forget to use your camera’s movement or sports/animals’ mode if you are taking photos on automatic settings. When people are having fun, everything happens quickly. If you truly want to have winter photoshoots, ask everyone to dress in colorful clothes. This makes them pop-out of your photos when they stand surrounded by the white snow.
Too cold or too rainy!
The last tip we want to give you in case the weather is too cold or its pouring outside and if you still have time on your hands, go to the library and borrow a few photography guides or use the resources you can find online. Check out places near you where others usually take photos, so you will be ready when the snow melts. And when you are at it don’t forget to try out all the different setting your camera has. Now is a good time to play with your camera inside of your home’s safety.
Now we have shared all of our winter photography tips and ideas with you. What do you think? Are you ready to spend this winter outside with your own camera? Just remember: don’t be scared of failing and take good care of your camera. With these two you will get a long way. Most people don’t take winter photos because it just seems too hard. In reality, it’s more similar to summer photography than most of us would guess. You just have to go out there and start capturing the things around you.
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