Do you love snow-covered mountains and icy lakes? Spring will be here before we know it, and, for those of you in colder climates, there may only be a few weeks left to capture this breathtaking winter beauty.
Winter landscape photography can be fun and rewarding, but can also bring a unique set of challenges. These challenges include the need to find contrast and patterns in a snow-covered setting, to use appropriate exposure levels, and to protect yourself and your equipment from cold, snow, and dampness.
1. Expose Snow Correctly
Snowy landscapes are difficult to photograph well. In an attempt to avoid overexposure, camera settings often reduce the amount of light reaching the sensor, resulting in snow that looks drab and gray. Adding +1/3 or +2/3 exposure compensation forces the camera to let in more light, bringing the snow back to pure white, which can be very effective in high-contrast winter scenes.
2. Look for Contrasts and Patterns
Photos of winter landscapes need more than snow to make them interesting. Look for dark elements that contrast with the whiteness of the snow, such as evening shadows or the bare skeletons of trees, and include them in your composition. Also, keep an eye out for interesting patterns, such as criss-crossing branches, rocky features, rough tree bark, and long shadows, which can add texture to your photos. Landscape photography classes can teach you how to compose images to highlight the most interesting elements of a scene.
3. Stay Warm and Comfortable
You’re unlikely to take your best photographs if you are shivering and your fingers are numb with cold. Wrapping yourself up in gloves, a hat, and sturdy boots before heading out reduces the risk that you will have to cut your photography session short due to extreme cold. If you’re driving in snowy conditions to reach the perfect shooting location, bring a charged mobile phone, blankets, water, and snacks in case you break down and need to call for help.
4. Protect Your Equipment
Rapid transitions between very cold and warm environments can cause condensation to build up in your photography equipment. When you come in from a winter shoot, wrap your gear in a towel so that condensation can be absorbed as the equipment gradually warms to room temperature. This simple step protects your camera equipment from the harmful effects of moisture so that it will stay in good working condition for many seasons to come.
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