Winter can be brutal. It can also open up great landscape photography opportunities. A lot of snow gives a lot of contrast. Getting to a good location in the winter provides challenges and affects composition. With hard work and some hot coffee, great images can be created. Here are some tips to help you out.
As I said before in 10 Winter Photography Tips That Everyone Should Know carrying the right gear is very important. I won’t repeat too much, but a DSLR or a Micro 4/3 camera is suggested. Because we are shooting a landscape, I would suggest a wide angle lenses like the Sigma 12-24mm, available for multiple camera mounts, the Nikon 12-24mm and the Canon 17-40mm lens. If you cannot afford these lenses I would suggest a kit lens like the Nikon 18-55mm or equivalent. You don’t need an expensive lens. A good quality at a decent price one will help you create great images. You shouldn’t change a lens outside in the cold because snow or other debris can affect the sensor. Keep a UV or clear filter on your lens to protect it from environmental debris. Remember, winter photography requires you to carry fully charged batteries and cleaning supplies.
A strong camera strap Like the Black Rapid RS-7 with a FastenR-T1 is a solid choice because it makes your quick release plate R-Strap ready and able to fit around your coat. Chris uses the Sun Sniper, and really likes it. A good tripod is a smart idea, especially if you are not using a fast lens. You will not be using the environment as your tripod. You don’t want to freeze off body parts for blurry shots either. A good quick access sling bag like the Tamrac Evolution 8 is also recommended. You do not want have to remove your bag completely but want it out the way when you are pushing through snow. A sling bag like this can also hold your tripod and let you be hands free.
Shoot RAW, so you do not have to fuss with white balance settings in the cold. If you feel you have to, make sure you have an expo disc to place on your lens so that you can set things quickly.
Composing in the cold
If you are shooting on a tripod, as suggested, go wild and shoot f/8-F/22 . Make sure your camera is focused about half way out so that you can get a good depth of field and as much detail as possible in your image. The rule of thirds is still your friend, use it. I always say this. The rules of thirds is a great thing to keep in mind when composing any image. Look for your lead lines in the snow. This will be a slightly more difficult task, but the lines are there. In the snow, contrast can be your friend. In an open landscape, color will be limited, bud shadows will be available. Look for foot trails, trees or streams to your lines.
Try not to shoot alone, have a friend close or at least a cell phone and let someone know where you are. Have an understanding of the weather conditions before you leave home and don’t take crazy chances if you don’t have to, especially if you’re by yourself. Keep emergency supplies if you are going deep into a forest or into a strange area. Wear bright colors, this will separate you from the black & white of the snowy scenery. Treat winter landscape photography like a game of chess and think first before you move.
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