One subject for which I like to use high ISO is photographing candles and candlelit scenes. A flash would ruin the mood of these shots, but by using a high ISO I can capture church scenes and candlelit faces using only the available light.
6. Use pocket hand warmers. Shooting outside during winter often requires shooting in the cold. If it’s really cold, you start to lose dexterity in your fingers, and your batteries quickly lose power. After living in Alaska for years and shooting in extreme cold, I learned a few tricks to help deal with the cold.
One item I always carry are small chemical hand-warmer packs. Once these packs are opened and exposed to the air, they heat up. I place them in my pockets, and if it’s really cold, I’ll put a couple in my boots. These packs will stay warm for hours and help keep your hands and feet warm.
I also carry a spare battery and put this in one of my coat pockets with a hand warmer. This way when one battery starts to lose power in the cold, I’ll replace it with the one in my pocket. As the cold battery warms up, it regains power and is ready to go the next time I need to switch batteries.
7. Record memorable moments. One of the joys of the holidays is reconnecting with family and friends. No matter how busy people are, the holiday season is when everyone makes time to get together. Don’t let this rare opportunity pass you by—photograph some family portraits and record these moments.
If you’re shooting inside, try using the bounce-flash technique mentioned earlier. Adding just a little pop of flash will bring life to your portrait. You achieve better separation from the background when you use flash and colors come to life. If you’re shooting outside, try using an inexpensive reflector to add some snap to your portrait. Try placing your subjects in front of a shaded area. Reflect the light from the sunny area back at your subjects. This way, the shaded background will be darker than your subjects, creating nice separation.
Mix up your poses. After shooting the mandatory classic group shot (guys in back, ladies in front, smile!), try some new poses to make the shot more interesting. How about photographing three generations of hands on a rail? Or maybe use a step ladder to get above your subjects and have them lie in a circle below you. You have willing subjects—your family—so be creative!
8. Try light painting. During the winter, there are a lot less hours of daylight. Where I lived in Alaska, the sun rose around 10 a.m. and set around 3 p.m. What to do with all this darkness? Try light painting.