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When the cold and the first snowfalls arrive, many photographers are tempted to stay warm at home. But the brave ones who brave the elements will sometimes be rewarded with superb shots of snow-covered landscapes.
Here are 5 practical tips to take good pictures in winter and the too often neglected beauties.
1- Get warmly equipped
The first advice to photograph winter is, of course, to dress warmly because you cool down quickly while remaining motionless to frame your images.
Put several layers of clothing on top of each other and protect sensitive areas such as the head, feet and especially the hands.
As you will need to handle your device and make adjustments, it may be useful to equip yourself with fingerless gloves with mitten flap.
Also equip yourself with warm and comfortable shoes, with good soles to avoid slipping.
Please note: just like you, your camera fears the cold, which considerably reduces the life of the batteries. That’s why I advise you to take at least one spare battery with you and keep it warm in your coat.
Also, know that condensation is the worst enemy of your camera and lenses! It is, therefore, necessary to limit as much as possible the passage from cold to warm.
When you return home, leave your equipment in its bag or backpack for an hour or two to warm it up slowly.
Putting it abruptly into the overheated atmosphere of a car or house would certainly create condensation.
2- Rendez-vous in the wild… or not
It is often in nature that you can take the best photographs in winter, for example during a walk in the forest or an outing to the mountains. Trees, rocks and all supports where frost forms can give stunning images.
Please note, however, that it is useless to go far to find interesting topics! If you live in the city, you can go to a park or public garden, for example, and if it has a lake or fountains, it will be even better…
Snow, water and ice are conducive to reflections and therefore to original photos.
But be careful!
Don’t take unnecessary risks and don’t venture on ice if you’re not sure it’s thick enough to walk on.
In cities, even if it hasn’t snowed, you can play with puddles and reflections on the asphalt after the rain. Wrapped bystanders and Christmas lights are also inexhaustible sources of inspiration.
3- Compensate exposure
For photography in winter, snowy days are an ideal opportunity. But snow-covered landscapes will undoubtedly cause you technical problems because of their whiteness.
In front of an expanse of snow, your camera will have difficulty determining the ideal exposure: it will find the snow too white and bright, it will believe that the scene is overexposed and will tend to make the whites more grey.
Result: you will get sad and dull images.
To remedy this, think about exposure compensation! Switch to manual mode and increase the exposure by 1 to 2 degrees depending on the case to ensure that your images are correctly exposed.
In the jargon of your device, this function is indicated by the abbreviation EV +1. When you return home, don’t forget to reset this value to 0.
4- Enjoy the golden hour
Under a grey sky, snow and ice appear dull. On the other hand, in the middle of the day in sunny weather, they shine brightly and create strong contrasts with the rest of the landscape.
That’s why you have to wait for the right time and the right light to photograph winter.
As often in pictures, the light is most beautiful at sunset or a little before, during the famous golden hour!
Under a soft and warm light, the snow-covered landscapes take a whole new look.
5- Look for dabs of color
Finally, even if winter is the season of snow and cold, photographing winter is not just about capturing the whiteness of the landscape.
Be on the lookout for touches of color in the landscape to bring out the whiteness of snow in contrast.
These can be natural elements (a robin as shown in the photo below), but also human, trees, animals or even urban elements (such as traffic signs, billboards, etc.).