Photo Tip “Taking Photos in the Winter 1”

It’s time to pull out hats, scarfs and coats again and to start thinking about where you put your sledge or your ski gear last spring. To coincide with the cold time of year, provides you with information, tips and inspiration on photography in the winter. In this article you will find fundamental information on this topic. The following photo tip “Winter photographs 2” includes example images and tips on image subjects and image creation.

Matterhorn with piste sign – Canton Valais – Switzerland – 2010  Matterhorn with piste sign – Canton Valais – Switzerland – 2010

Things that should be considered in the winter!

Exposure and white balance

It is not that easy to capture images in the winter. Exposure metering and white balance can be pushed to their limits. On sunny days, the photographer has to deal with very stark contrasts. The contrast in brightness between light and shadow areas can overtax the camera and result in overexposed lights and underexposed shadows. On the other hand, snow can be used as an optical brightener, thanks to its reflective effect. Large, bright surfaces can irritate the exposure meter and result in underexposed images. This is due to the exposure meter being set to gage a median grey value that differs from the bright patches of snow. Therefore, you should pay special attention to the exposure. If required, use exposure compensation. A compensation of +1 EV is usually sufficient; however, there is no norm. The image histogram and/or the over and underexposure warning can help you determine the period of exposure.
As well as the exposure metering, the camera’s white balance can also reach its limitations. It can result in a blue cast, especially in the sections that are in shadow. My tip for all of you with camera that is equipped with RAW format: Use the RAW format! This format offers you considerably more possibilities and options to correct images than the JPG format. For instance, you can correct white balance loselessly in a RAW converter. Many amateur cameras provide a special “Winter subject mode”. This setting is a good alternative for inexperienced photographers.

Rechargeable batteries and batteries!
Make sure you have enough replacement batteries/batteries. All rechargeable batteries develop problems in cold temperatures. To combat these problems, carry one or more rechargeable batteries with you under your clothes to keep them warm.

Attention cold!

Extreme cold can damage equipment. Therefore, you should not expose your equipment to sub-zero temperatures for a long period of time. Your camera’s user’s manual should contain technical data about the recommended operating temperatures.

Attention condensation!

Be aware that camera equipment can mist over when going from cold to warm conditions. Allow enough time for the equipment to become accustomed to the warm, indoor temperatures. If not, your camera may take blurred photographs. Dry off your equipment as well. Be sure to use suitable cloths to clean lens and filters. Do not remove the lens from the camera until after a warm-up phase; otherwise you risk the sensor misting over.
Leave the equipment in the camera bag at first. This allows the camera to slowly become accustomed to the warmth (however, this may take some time) and the gear doesn’t steam up as much. For quicker results, use an airtight plastic bag. Simply put your equipment in the plastic bag before going into the warm and seal the bag securely.
In addition, you can use a drying agent (e.g. silica gel) in your camera bag or in the plastic bag to speed up the process. This agent is usually packaged in small paper packets and helps keep your equipment as dry as possible, therefore, reducing moisture condensation. You can also purchase this drying agent with a colour indicator. The changing colour indicates when you need to renew the drying agent.

The right clothing!

Last, but not least – the right clothing! Fingerless gloves over a good compromise between protection against the cold and sufficient sense of touch. This allows you to able to operate the technical equipment and still keep warm. When you’re choosing clothes, make sure to choose warm clothing, but that also allow you to move around without working up a sweat. Multiple layers is probably the best principle and solution. Your clothes should be breathable and waterproof.

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