Join Now Sign In
Get full access to articles, free contest entries and more!
Advertisement

5 Tips for Capturing Wonderful Winter Landscapes

Bundle up and try this winter photography advice from Deborah Sandidge
Photo of a winter landscape

As the weather gets colder and the trees glisten with snow, it’s a great time to capture the true beauty of winter with your camera. While most may sit in by the fire, I love exploring the outdoors and creating a winter narrative through my photography.

Here are five tips to keep in mind when venturing out in the winter climate to capture those one-of-a-kind frosty weather images.

Photo of a winter landscape

#1 First Things First – Check Your Gear!

When capturing photos of nature outside, it is vital to be mindful of the weather, especially if it’s below freezing. Since I do a lot of my shooting in colder climates, I have come to learn that hand warmers, boots, ice cleats, a warm water-resistant jacket and base layers are essential for personal comfort. After all, the photography experience is more fun and rewarding when you are warm and comfortable in cold conditions.

Similar to keeping yourself warm and protected, you want to think about your gear. You don’t want your camera and lenses to be covered in snow. I always pack a lens hood and rain cover so my camera can withstand all the elements. You’ll also need to make sure that your camera and lenses are acclimated to go from a warm home to the icy outdoors to avoid condensation.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Aside from keeping warm, you need to pack your bag with the key lenses to capture a wide array of shots. Before even stepping foot outside of the house, make sure you have capable and adequate lenses, such as a wide-angle lens, mid-range zoom and perhaps a telephoto zoom. In terms of photography specific gear, using a mirrorless body with a lighter mirrorless lens makes the perfect travel pair. I like to carry a Nikon Z9 and AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens to capture far range shots. When you want to tell a story up close, a macro or portrait lens is essential to capture details.

Photo of a winter landscape

#2 It’s All About Technique

When capturing the beauty of the winter season, you want to focus on expressing the drama of the snow. Think about the different variables you can play with to develop your story more, such as light and subject. Leveraging your camera’s shutter speeds can help you capture the movement of the snow falling or freeze it in action. You really want people to come away with a sense of what it feels to be there at that very moment. I like to shoot in a slow shutter to capture the soft, gentle snowfall to add to that winter mood or tell a winter story through stills.

To capture these unique images, you need to be versatile. You have to be able to shoot from different angles and positions for the best pictures. I love pointing my camera straight up towards the sky and capturing the shapes of the snow laden trees. It’s amazing how mood and emotion come to life just from switching up your angles.

Photo of a winter landscape

Advertisement
Advertisement

#3 Lighting Is Essential

Be receptive to lighting factors and roll with what is happening. Weather can be unpredictable but try to plan out your shoots ahead of time to take advantage of the natural light during various times of the day. While golden hour has its advantages, I’ve found that the middle of the day with an overcast sky can also create great conditions to take pictures because the lighting is very balanced. My personal favorite is blue hour, 20 to 30 minutes just after sunset and just before sunrise, it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Photo of a winter landscape

#4 Shooting Modes Are Your Friends

Don’t shy away from camera controls. Thinking about the camera settings before you head out, specifically white balance, will cut down the time you spend editing and trying to do the narrative and scene justice. Color temperature is important because we want the picture to accurately reflect the vivid bright white of the moment.

Think about how you can vary the composition you are trying to create and the different ways you can take the picture. Utilizing the camera’s features can really add to the mood of the shot. I will often go through the Picture Controls on my Nikon and use the Graphite setting for a very high contrast black and white image. Experiment, have fun!

Photo of a winter landscape

Advertisement
Advertisement

#5 Don’t Forget About the Wildlife

Remember that you can grab your long-range telephoto lens and capture images of beautiful animals in the snow without having to get too close. If I spot an animal when I’m driving and not trudging through the snow, I use a beanbag and prop my camera up in my car window to photograph wildlife. Shooting from a car can also serve as a “blind” allowing the wildlife to stay relaxed. This is a fantastic way to include the native animals without disturbing and changing the way they are interacting with their environment. Be mindful that shooting wildlife in snow can be challenging. Getting the exposure just right is important. I use Auto ISO to accommodate a faster shutter speed for fast moving animals and create an exposure compensation for a brighter representation of the snow. Don’t forget to be aware of the background, a flattering background will complement the subject.

About Deborah Sandidge

Deborah Sandidge is a professional photographer, and Nikon Ambassador, specializing in world travel and artistic imagery. Her passion and skill with creative techniques such as long exposure, time-lapse, and blue hour photography has earned the respect and admiration of both corporate clients and peers.

You can find Deborah Sandidge on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Save Your Favorites

Save This Article