Friday, January 23, 2015

5 Winter Photography Tips

Covered Bridge - Stallion Springs, California
Winter is such a great time to photograph. A scene has a completely different look and feel when the ground is covered in snow. Storm systems can bring added interest to the sky.

But there are some special considerations for photographing at this time of the year. Below are five tips for photography in winter.

1. Check The Weather Forecast
Winter Day #2 - Stallion Springs, California
Check the weather forecast before you go out, and periodically while you are out. This tip is especially important if you are traveling to photograph. In the winter, especially if a storm is passing through, conditions can change rapidly. Roads can become dangerous, and sometimes roads will even close. You don't want to get stuck out in freezing conditions.

It's better to be prepared. If you have an idea of when conditions will improve or worsen, you can plan to avoid the worst of a winter storm. Also, be sure to have emergency items in case the worst happens. No photograph is ever worth dying for.

2. Dress Appropriately
Frozen - Stallion Springs, California
This may seem obvious but it is worth stating: dress appropriately for winter weather. You need to stay warm and dry, which means having the right shoes, pants, coat, head wear and gloves.

Winter can be brutal, and you may end up out in the elements longer than you initially planned. Don't under dress and regret it later. It's better to have too many layers than not enough.

3. Do Not Disturb
Bent And Twisted - Tehachapi, California
When you arrive at the location that you wish to photograph, be careful not to disturb the scene. Nothing ruins a tranquil winter landscape like your own footprints. Think about where you might want to shoot from prior to trampling through the snow.

On top of that, depending on exactly where you are at, there are potential hazards. Slippery surfaces, sharp ice, thin ice, and even avalanches in the mountains are possible dangers. Tripping hazards are sometimes hidden. These things could quickly ruin your day, so be careful where you walk.

4. Look For Details
Red Flower In Snow - Stallion Springs, California
Snow, icicles, and objects covered in ice or frost are great subjects for your photography. Don't just look for large landscapes. The small details often make for the most interesting winter photographs.

The opportunities for macro photography, especially, abound in the winter. Look for interesting patterns and designs made by the winter conditions.

5. Exposure
White, Fence - Tehachapi, California
One thing you can count on when photographing in the winter is that the light meter in your camera will be completely fooled. Typically your camera will try to underexpose the image, sometimes by two or more f-stops.

You'll have to pay close attention to the exposures and use exposure compensation to correct. I have found that one f-stop of additional exposure is a good starting point, and from there it can be fine-tuned. An 18% grey card (for those who use grey cards) can be used to help get the exposure right.

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