If you live in the New England area, chances are good that there’s still a decent amount of snow on the ground right now. This is a great opportunity to get out and capture some winter and snow inspired photographs. Here are some tips to make sure you stay warm and capture the best photos possible.
1. Dress to stay warm and comfortable. When you’re going to be outside in the cold for an extended period of time taking photos, be sure to dress warmly using layers of thin clothing to ensure you don’t restrict your ability to move around too much. A big, bulky coat may keep you warm, but it won’t allow for the movement you’ll need to capture great photographs. I usually wear a Thinsulate insulated undershirt, a plain T-shirt, a long sleeved shirt, and then a light waterproof zip up jacket with a hood. For pants, go with heavy insulated long underpants, and waterproof athletic style jogging pants over those. Also, bring a couple of hand warmer packets with you as well.
2. Store all of your photography equipment in a zip up waterproof bag or backpack. To ensure additional protection against water and snow damaging your equipment, place sensitive items such as memory cards and batteries in a zip lock plastic bag within your camera bag.
3. Make sure to bring lens wipes, either disposable or micro fiber cloths, to clean any moisture and condensation off of your lenses and filters while in the field.
4. When you came back inside to a warm environment from shooting outdoors, one of the biggest concerns is moisture collecting on the inside of your camera’s electronics. To minimize this, place the camera in a plastic bag after the shoot, before coming back inside. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and come inside and let the camera warm while in the bag. This will allow the camera to warm up and dry, and the condensation will occur on the outside of the plastic bag and not on / in your camera.
5. Cold kills batteries. Make sure to bring extra batteries with you, as the cold temperatures can quickly drain your battery life. If possible keep your batteries stored in an inner pocket in your clothing, so your body heat will help keep the spare batteries warmer. Also, try and keep your camera in a jacket pocket close to your body when you’re not taking photos.
6. Focus on the big and the little pictures. Clean, fresh snow offers many great opportunities, including both wide angle and close up macro-style photography. Open expanses such as fields offer great opportunities to capture areas that have been blanketed in clean, fresh snow. Also, there are many great textures and close up opportunities, especially when you have interesting objects and textures that are partially covered by snow. Also, ice and icicles present great textures to photograph.
7. Underexpose your photographs. Because the snow can easily be too bright, ending up with blown out highlights that lack detail, it’s best to underexpose your photos by a full stop. Then in post processing, you can raise the highlights and midtones to ensure you retain the desired detail.
8. Don’t be afraid of the snow. The benefit of wearing insulated, waterproof clothing is that you don’t have to be afraid to lay in the snow to capture interesting angles and scenes. Because you’re properly dressed, you don’t have to worry about snow or water getting down to your skin. This allows you to move around and position yourself as necessary to get the best shots.
9. Check your camera’s user manual for the recommended operation temperature range for your camera. Winter photography is fun and you can capture many great photos, but you don’t want to risk permanent damage to your equipment.
10. Be safe. The most important tip is to be safe, stay warm and don’t spend too much time outside if it’s too cold. If you aren’t too far from your car, go back to warm up if you get too cold, and then go back out and keep shooting. Also, be aware of the time of day, as the temperatures will drop considerably once the sun starts to go down.