Winter is a great time to get out and take some pictures. One of the biggest reasons is the early dusk / sunset light. The light at this time of day is soft and can bring out some beautiful tones in nature scenes. The advantage of Winter? Sunset comes earlier so we don’t need to wait.
Before venturing out and taking some great images though, make sure you are prepared.
1 – Make sure your battery is fully charged, and it is best to have a fully charged spare with you. Cold weather is hard on batteries so plan ahead. If you live where it is really cold think about the cranking sound your car makes.
2 – Make sure you have enough space on your memory card, and always carry a spare.
3 – If you are going from a warm space to a cold one, this can result in fogging of your lens. Plan ahead and acclimate your gear to the cooler temps. I find that a shed, trunk of my car, or other place for 30 minutes is perfect. The opposite is true in the summer when going from outside to an air conditioned building.
4 – If it has snowed, your camera sensor if on auto settings will either set the ISO on an average of light or on the brightest point, which is going to be snow. To minimize this, I carry a grey card with me to establish my settings. An alternative is to underexpose the image. If you don’t do this upfront, you will blow out all of the color and highlights. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to re-capture the information in post processing. Resist the temptation to start shooting immediately and take some time to assess your particular situation.
5 – If it is snowing, and you are lucky enough to have a lens cover, use it. Unless the snow is blowing in horizontally to you, it should leave your lens clean and clear.
6 – I like using a polarizing filter. These can be purchased really cheaply in stores, on Amazon, or any photographic equipment retailer (B&H is a great one). Make sure you buy one that is for the size lens you have. They are always in MM (millimeter) measures. A filter like this will help with blue skies, water, foliage, etc.
7 – Carry a clean microfiber or other soft cloth. You may need to clean dust off your lens, but if it is snowing, you will get water drops on your lens occasionally.
8 – It’s likely colder out…so you will be too. As you shake and shudder this will be picked up by your camera. Especially with slow shutter speeds. If possible, use a tripod, monopod, or other stabilizing foundation (a fence post can work) to minimize shake.
Have fun. Taking images thru falling snow, the contrast of car tail lights on a white backdrop, or kids riding sleds or skating, can be used to not only capture great images but as an opportunity to practice using your settings and getting more comfortable.