With the start of the first snowflakes in the late fall to the first significant snow fall and then dripping icicles that come with the spring thaw; winter poses a beautiful time of the year for landscape photography.
One of the beauties of living in Northeast Iowa, there are many unique areas to go out and explore in the snow. Some of these areas include: snow covered barns, spring feed streams flowing, snow covered bluffs, icicles along the rocky faces, frost covered trees and wildlife. With the colder temperatures, don’t let the challenges of the cold and snow prevent you from getting outdoors. Here are just a few tips that will help you on your way to a fun-filled winter season with some rewarding images.
The camera can be easily fooled by all the white and will make your pictures end up with gray snow. Snow is extremely reflective and it picks up light very easily. In order to get that bright white snow that you really want, manually increasing the exposure, doing so will help eliminate that gray hue. To increase your exposure turn the dial up to +1 or 2, you don’t want to go to high as things may start to get blown out. You will have to do some tweaking to get it right, so use the histogram to ensure you are getting the right exposure.
The most important thing to remember, will be protecting your camera gear from the cold elements. Through my experience the batteries seem to be the most affected by the very cold temperatures. Camera batteries do not last as long when the temperatures start to drop. For this reason, I would suggest carrying extra batteries along; find the warmest place in your bag to keep them warm. You could also keep the batteries in an inside pocket of your coat, that way they are easy to access when you need to switch them out.
Another important tip in protecting your camera gear in cold weather, is to avoid condensation on the camera or inside the equipment. While the cold air outside is not a problem, but entering a heated space that contains moisture may condense on the inside of the camera. For the same reason, it is not a good idea to place your cold camera under your coat to protect it.
Going out while it is snowing can lead to some really interesting photos by using a long shutter speed. This will make falling snow appear in streaks. If you set the camera to a slower shutter speed, it will freeze the flakes in motion. The key is to position yourself so that you are shooting them against a darker background, this will allow the flakes to be more noticeable.
Like every other kind of photography, thinking creatively will get you a long way out in the snow. Here are a few of my favorite winter pictures. Enjoy!