Winter Photography Tips

Melizard

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 4, 2011
328
68
Canada/Germany
Winter is upon us (some of us at least), and this will be my first winter with a DSLR. I was wondering if any of you would like to share some tips for winter photography...? Anything from keeping gear protected to how to get the most interesting scenes. I'm headed to Switzerland for a couple weeks in January so all advice is greatly appreciated!
 

snberk103

macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
5,503
87
An Island in the Salish Sea
Over expose white scenes to keep the whites from turning grey. Batteries lose power in the cold, so keep your batteries warm. If your camera is out in extreme cold (more than several degrees below freezing) then when it's time to bring the camera inside, wrap it in sweater, towel, or similar insulating item as you are coming in and let the camera warm up slowly.

Most cameras are don't need anything special done to them to operate in the winter. But check your camera's specs to be sure. My Mamiya was rated to something like -30º C if my memory serves. But I also added the "battery in the pocket, connected to the camera via a cord" accessory.

Use a lensehood.
 

chrono1081

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2008
7,675
1,823
Isla Nublar
Over expose white scenes to keep the whites from turning grey. Batteries lose power in the cold, so keep your batteries warm. If your camera is out in extreme cold (more than several degrees below freezing) then when it's time to bring the camera inside, wrap it in sweater, towel, or similar insulating item as you are coming in and let the camera warm up slowly.

Most cameras are don't need anything special done to them to operate in the winter. But check your camera's specs to be sure. My Mamiya was rated to something like -30º C if my memory serves. But I also added the "battery in the pocket, connected to the camera via a cord" accessory.

Use a lensehood.
And he pretty much covered it all :p
 

compuwar

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2006
4,717
2
Northern/Central VA
...And maybe a pair of gloves that convert (thanks to Velcro) into fingerless mittens. Best of both worlds...
I find kayaker's (canoeists for the UK folk) paddling gloves to work best- I can generally manipulate the camera controls without taking them off. When it's cold, I find being able to manipulate the controls with the gloves still on to be the best of both worlds ;)

Paul
 

deeddawg

macrumors G3
Jun 14, 2010
8,949
2,758
US
Key points above. I'd add:

  • Understand how to handle high-contrast scenes, both for landscape and "people" pictures.
  • Know how to add some fill flash in outdoor scenes especially if people are sunlit, as winter sunlight tends to create harsh lighting.
 

Rowbear

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2010
576
315
Gatineau, PQ, Canada
When I'm done shooting outside in extreme cold (-25/30c sometimes here), I remove the batteries and flash card, because once inside, I leave the bag closed for several hours before opening it in order to let the temperature inside the bag match the temperature inside the house to avoid moisture.
 

snberk103

macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
5,503
87
An Island in the Salish Sea
Check your Sunrise/Sunset times. Several years ago I was in Whitehorse, just before Christmas. Totally prepared for the cold, totally forgot to check the times. Out at 10am to catch the sunrise. Stayed out for a couple of hours, and got a roll of shots (pre digital). At -36ºC decided not to take my gloves off to change the film, so I wrapped the camera up and came inside. I didn't know how long it took to get frostbite at that temperature, and I didn't want to find out.

By the time the camera had warmed up, it was dark outside - sunset at about 3:30pm. So, a roll a day for a weekend. I was very careful with my shots.

Can't wait to get back up with a digital back - I'll give up before the camera!
 

deeddawg

macrumors G3
Jun 14, 2010
8,949
2,758
US
Just expose correctly, and push and pull it in post. It's pretty easy to blow little bits of the highlights if you start over exposing.
Yes, it is best to expose correctly. And in a winter scene with lots of snow, that typically means setting exposure compensation to overexpose by a stop or so (give or take a little depending on the scene).

Best thing is to have the exposure of the scene correct out of the camera, whether shooting RAW or JPEG. IMHO if I have to push/pull in post I screwed up in evaluating the scene and/or setting the camera correctly. (No I'm not perfect, but I strive to get it right in-camera vs. using post as a crutch)

Also, to add to your point about blown highlights; yes you want to avoid clipping, but better to err towards overexposure than underexposure. Although I'm sure you know this, for others please see "Expose Right" at Luminous Landscape for more info: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/expose-right.shtml
 

Bonch

macrumors 6502
May 28, 2005
442
1
Lithuania
yes, it is best to expose correctly. And in a winter scene with lots of snow, that typically means setting exposure compensation to overexpose by a stop or so (give or take a little depending on the scene).

Best thing is to have the exposure of the scene correct out of the camera, whether shooting raw or jpeg. Imho if i have to push/pull in post i screwed up in evaluating the scene and/or setting the camera correctly. (no i'm not perfect, but i strive to get it right in-camera vs. Using post as a crutch)

also, to add to your point about blown highlights; yes you want to avoid clipping, but better to err towards overexposure than underexposure. Although i'm sure you know this, for others please see "expose right" at luminous landscape for more info: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/expose-right.shtml
lol.
 

glocke12

macrumors 6502a
Jan 7, 2008
999
5
use a picture of snow as a reference image for your WB when shooting outdoors. I did this last year and really got some great images.
 

Melizard

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 4, 2011
328
68
Canada/Germany
Thank you all for your input. I think it will be challenging for me to make the shots interesting, but at least I have a starting point now. I am checking out other people's photos now for some creative inspiration.

Cheers!
 

Melizard

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 4, 2011
328
68
Canada/Germany
Don't forget close or macro shots.
Good call. I will do what I can with the lenses I have (just the standard 18-55mm kit lens and a 18-200 zoom lens). I would love a wide angle or a macro lens, but I'm trying to learn some photography basics before I invest the money. I would love to take a course too, but I can never seem to find the time, so I'm attempting to learn as much as I can on my own (this forum is great for that, btw).

I got a SLR when I got sick of my photos looking nothing like reality, so that's what I'm trying to accomplish. I am happy with touristy shots for now, but looking at everyone's amazing photos is beginning to make me think more creatively.
 

Vudoo

macrumors 6502a
Sep 30, 2008
763
1
Dallas Metroplex
Winter...one of my favorite season that I don't get to really experience most of the time.

Here's a photo that I took while dog sledding at Lake Tahoe. You will noticed that a sunny day will reflect off the snow like crazy. A polarizer would have been useful here.



Here's one that I took in Vancouver Island on a cloudy snowy day. It's almost like a black and white which gives you an opportunity to be artistic.



My biggest issue is fogging up of the lens when moving between extreme temperatures. You want to make sure your camera has acclimated before shooting.
 

Melizard

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 4, 2011
328
68
Canada/Germany
^^Oh I love these! I've been dying to go on a dog sled!

Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to get out there! Alas, all of our snow has melted so I have to wait a few more weeks.
 
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