Sunday, October 27, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Tips and inspiration for cold-weather storytelling in a snowy environment
Text & Photography By Meredith Winn Published in Shooting
Winter Wonderland


Another approach is to shoot RAW images, which provide additional control over exposure compensation on a computer. Even when shooting RAW images, it's still necessary to start out with an exposure that's reasonably accurate out-of-camera. Keep in mind that once a scene has overexposed highlights, there's nothing that can be done in photo editing to bring that detail back.

There are many presets in Adobe Lightroom that can create artistic touches to your winter photography. If you're experimenting with mobile photography this winter, you'll find that applying different filters to your images will warm up your cold blue pictures. Fog turns creamy and soft. Textures become amplified on an overcast day. Remember that there's no right or wrong way to shoot winter images, and often the "not technically perfect" images can be thought-provoking if composed well.

When I moved to New England a few years ago, I enjoyed the steep learning curve that accompanied extreme winter living. I learned more about my DSLR, and I embraced mobile photography, as well. Snow is an inspiring subject, whether you're shooting landscapes or single snowflakes.

Winter environments have obvious challenges. However, when taking a mindful approach, you'll capture the stories around you and create a magical winter wonderland.


1 | In below-freezing weather, it's important to have an extra set of fully charged batteries. The cold temperatures will drain batteries quickly, and it's best to have a few extras on hand. After a battery is drained, placing it in a warm interior pocket of your winter coat may help you get a few more shots out of it.

2 | During cold weather or extreme conditions (snow or sleet), never change your lenses outside because moisture or condensation can get inside the camera body.

3 | Always let your camera acclimate to indoor temperatures before changing your lenses. This means letting your camera warm up slowly when you bring it back inside.

4 | An easy way to prevent condensation buildup is to seal your camera in an airtight plastic bag (like a Ziploc®). Seal the camera completely inside the bag before you bring it inside. The condensation should form on the bag rather than on the camera.

5 | Fingerless gloves are helpful in cold weather, providing you with warm hands between shots, yet allowing you to have access to your camera controls and dials.

6 | Time of day plays an important role when shooting in snow. Early-morning and late-afternoon hours provide warm pastel tones. Bright, midday light offers cooler, more neutral tones. If you want color in your photography, avoid shooting during the middle of the day.

7 | Look for contrasts. Colorful subjects, winter gear, people and textures act as a great contrast against the expanse of white snow and gray winter skies. Embrace winter's simplicity! Draw your viewer's eye to your subject with creative composition by using angles, lines and color contrasts.

8 | Use whatever light is available. Winter light is dramatic. Look for low-angle light to create long shadows. Use backlighting to create silhouettes. During dusk, shoot long exposures to capture cool tones.

9 | Keep your eye on the weather. Early-morning frost provides stunning opportunities to showcase Mother Nature. The aftermath of a snowstorm will provide you with ample opportunity to document ice-covered branches or high, sculpted snowdrifts. Subjects that were once ordinary become stunning.

10 | There are many filters you can try that will improve your winter photography. A graduated filter will help reduce the contrast between sky and ground. A polarizing filter will reduce reflections from the snow. And a UV filter is always recommended while shooting in sunny conditions.
Meredith Winn is a writer, photographer and co-founder of NOW YOU Workshops. She's a contributor to Shutter Sisters, featured in our regular column, Point of Focus. You can see more of her work on her website at

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