6 Ways to Take Better Winter Photos


This is a guest post by Katie Conlon from ProAmUSA

With winter in full swing, and the holidays in the rear-view, it’s time to adjust your adventure plans and get back outdoors!

The winter months offer plenty of exciting ways to spend long weekends, but capturing those moments prove to be a bit more difficult now than in the spring and summer. As amazing as snowshoeing in the backcountry, winter camping on the lake, or driving through frozen waterfalls can be, these exhilarating adventures lose a bit of their luster when you return home to show your friends mediocre pictures of astounding places.

Here are 6 ways to remedy that situation and make sure your winter photography never falls flat again!


1. Increase Exposure

Winter conditions are often sunny or very bright and whether you’re trying to shoot during mid day, or just capture the true whiteness of snowfall, adjust your camera’s exposure compensation by +0.3 or even +0.7. Tell the camera that you’re are shooting something bright (because it doesn’t know it’s trying to capture white, bright snow) and adjust your exposure. You’ll often have a gray photo instead of the pure white, if you leave the exposure set as is. 


2. How to Capture Snowfall

Snowfall is majestic and one of the reasons to go on a winter adventure and to take pictures of your time outside. A telephoto lens with a focal length of 70 mm+ will help you get the best shot and in a best case weather scenario, a 200mm lens with a shallow aperture (f/4.5-6.3) will result in unbelievable pictures. 

A slightly blurry snowflake will result in that spine-tingling, magical effect everyone’s after. So snap your photos when the snowflakes are close and in front of the lense and the focal point in the background appears larger. Do this and use the fastest shutter speed option, and you’ll get properly framed, beautiful photos of snow.

3. Portrait Problems Fixed  

Snowflakes create a magical feel which means winter is the perfect time to create adorable portraits. Rosey red cheeks from the cold will translate perfectly, but the red nose that goes along with being cold is less than ideal. If you struggle with red eyes (hopefully not!) or a prevailing red nose, simply adjust the saturation in adobe or whatever editing suite you prefer. Reducing the red and orange saturations slightly will help to tone down the red. Picture saved.

4. Landscapes at Sun Up and Sundown

If winter portraits don’t interest you, winter landscapes are a gorgeous alternative. Sunrises and sunsets can be incredibly dramatic in the winter time, especially on the heels of a storm. So if you’re out in nature over the weekend, pay attention to the weather and be safe, but also be prepared to take some awesome shots.  Because the sun rises later sets earlier, it is easier to capture in the winter. Adventurers, hikers, campers, and those of us who enjoy sleeping in, will be able to snap some unreal pictures, and not sacrifice our beauty sleep.

5. Keep Your Gear Warm and Dry

If you’re frequently out in snowstorms or thunderstorms for that matter, invest in a good snow or rain cover and a good bag or case. They will keep your camera and your lenses safe and dry when you’re shooting. Snow covers can be very cheap and found on places like amazon, but a high quality one, like something made from proam, will hover around $100. Bags and cases also have a wide price range, but as an adventure photographer, having good equipment to protect your expensive gear is well worth the investment. Camera repair is 4x that much. 

If your camera does ever get wet, bring it indoors and wrap it in a towel. Don’t wipe off the water, as you can very easily push that moisture into the camera and ruin the electronics.

6. Stay Comfortable and Warm

Stay warm! Shooting outside can be challenging, but it’s important to be prepared for harsh winds and bitter cold. If you’re out camping or hiking, you’ve probably packed correctly, but never underestimate the winter. Overdressing and packing warm is always a good idea because in the worst case scenario, you can take layers off. A good winter coat, waterproof, warm boots, camera friendly gloves and a hat will keep you comfortable and allow you to brave the elements long enough to capture the perfect winter moment, perfectly! 

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