Friday, December 7, 2012

10 Winter Photography Tips for Beginners

Joining us today is guest blog contributor Liz from ViewBug.com.  Liz is sharing some helpful winter photography tips for beginners, and a practical refresher for those that are more advanced.

1.  The cold may reduce your camera’s battery life. Keep your battery warm by placing it in your pocket or insulated camera bag before using it.  You may also consider packing a spare battery to use in case the one in your camera gets too cold.

2.  If you’re really serious about cold weather photography, consider a rugged memory card that is designed to withstand extreme cold and abuse, such as SanDisk’s Extreme memory cards.
Image courtesy of SanDisk
3.  Keep in mind that your camera’s LCD screen performance might be affected by freezing cold temperatures.  It may lose some contrast or color, or even slow down.  If it’s a touch screen, it could become a bit sluggish as well.

4.  Plan your glove options before heading out into the cold.  Consider wearing a thin pair of gloves that work with your camera under a thick pair of gloves that you take off once you begin shooting.  Depending on how often you shoot during winter months, you may want to invest in a specialized pair of gloves made specifically for cold weather photography.

5.  If you’re like me and you’ve taken lots of snapshots in the snow, you may have noticed that your shots are never as vibrant as you would like them to be. A quick tip is to bump up your exposure one or two stops to compensate. If you’re lucky to have blue skies and your camera has spot metering, you can get a reading from the sky before photographing the snow.

6.  With gray skies common in the winter, a filter may help liven a lackluster landscape. You may try experimenting with a neutral density or a polarizing filter.  If you’re more experienced with your DSLR, you may want to try a graduated neutral density filter. A graduated neutral density filter will darken the sky, while allowing the foreground to be properly exposed.
Image courtesy of Tiffen
7.  At sunrise or sunset, snow or frost can equal some cool colors and lighting.  Make sure to experiment at those times, as they offer great photographic opportunities.  If you encounter a snowy landscape, the moonlight reflecting off it can result in some interesting photos too.

8.  If you’re shooting action shots, like snowboarding or wildlife, you may be challenged with losing sunlight from clouds or shorter days. To combat this, try cranking up your ISO. If it’s snowing at the time, you may need to adjust the ISO even higher to avoid underexposed images.

9.  An important thing to consider in winter weather is condensation.  Condensation can fog up the inside of your lens, or even damage the electronics inside your camera. To avoid the risk, you’ll want to slowly raise or lower your gear’s temperature to match your environment.  While you may want to jump in and out of your warm house or car as fast as possible, your camera may need to take it slower! Try slowly adjusting the temperature in your car to transfer from your warm house to the cold outdoors and vice versa. You can even let your gear rest in an area warmer than outside, such as your garage, before bringing it inside.

10. To avoid the procedure from number 9, bring an airtight plastic bag (such as a large Ziploc) and seal your camera in it before going inside or outside. The bag will attract the condensation while your camera adjusts to the environment. Also, watch your breath! One gust of hot breath on your lens or viewfinder could equal an annoying cleaning delay.

I hope these tips help you before you head out into the cold. If you have any winter photography tips to add, please share them!

Contributor Bio:
Liz is a life-long DSLR amateur and blogger for social photography site ViewBug.com.  ViewBug is a comprehensive website for photographers where you can enter photo contests and share your images with their growing online community.