How to get the best out of your winter-time photography

Winter doesn’t always seem like the most obvious season in which to head out with your camera to shoot off a few exposures on a lazy afternoon. For one thing, your fingers get so cold that you can barely press the shutter button, and for another, your lens can frost up before you’ve even caught your image. However, if you have a good pair of gloves and keep your lens cap on when you’re not using it, winter can be the best season to capture unique images, no matter where you are! Here are some tips and tricks on getting the best out of your winter photography.

Pick the Right Lens

Depending on where you live in the world, winter may be as mild as a cold wind and a bit of rain, or it may be harsh enough to give you months of sub-zero temperatures and bury your car under 6 feet of snow. Either way, when temperatures are low, you really want to avoid changing lenses outdoors, so getting the right lens for winter pictures is a very important choice.

Zoom lenses are more practical than primes in most winter situations, and although an 18-55mm kit lens can be wonderful, something like an 18-200mm will allow for much more range. Keep your lens cap on at all times when you’re not shooting, and think about investing in a hood for winter photography; this can help to reduce glare and falling snow off your glass.

Avoid the Glare

Although many photographers forget this key point, it’s very important to remember that snow can present a huge glare issue for winter pictures. The snow will reflect the sun’s rays straight into your lens, causing your winter landscape photos to be overexposed and harsh. The easiest way to combat this, without getting into a whole snow photography tutorial, is to simply angle your camera so that the glare affects your shot less. Try to avoid the middle of the day when the sun is highest, and overcast days can actually make for the best winter pictures.

Another great option can be a UV filter that screws on to the end of your lens. As well as reducing glare, UV filters can even out the tones in your shot, and will even stop your lens from getting scratched. Adding another piece of glass to your setup is never ideal, but UV filters are cheap, easy to carry and might just save that winter landscape photo that’s being ruined by glare.  

Playing Around with Exposure

Overexposing winter landscape photos, or winter pictures in general, can be fatal to good images. Though you might get away with a few stops of overexposure in spring or fall, the icy Gods of winter photography won’t let such an error slide at all. On the other hand, underexposing an image can be just as bad when the light is low or the day is overcast. So what to do?

As well as bracketing, which is the practice of taking the same shot with settings just slightly different from the ones that you think are perfect, you can ensure that you get the right exposure by simply examining your shots after you’ve taken them and taking note of the histogram. This will show you any highlights and lowlights in your images, allowing you to adjust the exposure to deal with them. If this doesn’t help, then Photoshop is your winter-time friend!

What are your best tips for winter photography? Share them below in the comments, and upload your winter pictures to the PicsArt galleries with the tag #winter! Oh – and don’t forget: keep your gloves on!