Winter Photography Tips

January 2, 2015 Categories: Blog



Don’t Trust your Metering

Your camera will always need guidance but never more so than with snow on the ground. It’s a good time to avoid the automatic modes and shoot manual, taking as many test shots as required getting comfortable.

White Balance

AWB (auto white balance) is a good option anytime but winter where snow becomes either grey or blue. If you’re looking for best results find a preset that gets you close, or create a custom profile. This will drastically cut down your post production time.


For best results monitor your histogram, you will almost certainly need to increase your exposure compensation (+0.3 to +0.7)

Fill Flash

Adding some well diffused light is always a good idea, just remember to control the light carefully as any white surface within the image area could become blown out.

Use Colour

Winter is a great opportunity to use hats, scarf’s and mittens to brighten and support your images. Remember if your subject is gets too cold you might have colour (red nose and cheeks) that you didn’t want.

Move in Close

A half body shot or head / shoulders shot will work better and be easier to control than a full body shot. Find snowflakes or crystals and use a macro setting or lens to shoot these unique patterns.


I like shooting in the special hours of dawn or dust, plan your trip in advance as the sun moves quickly. When scoping out a possible shot try not to walk in areas you might later target. I like to experiment with light pattern in winter that might not work in other seasons. Try a side or back lighting as these angles often create interesting shadows and black contrast.


Cloudy Days

There are winter days that when light just seems hard to find making image choices more difficult. On cloudy days artificial light sources need to be found and I look for anything reflecting or creating light. You can find a street light cosy up to a porch light, a window or even car head or tail light. Boosting the ISO is great for action shots for nothing works better than a light source on dark days. Sometime your images turn our brighter than expected with a bit of flash, or maybe black and white becomes the optimal solution.


Never delete images in the field as you never can be sure what you have. Winter is a great opportunity to tilt shift an image or use High Dynamic Range to create a different look.

Taking Care of Your Equipment and Yourself

Dress for the weather and keep your camera protected. If you wear glasses you know what happens when coming in from the cold, this also happening with our camera. The lens and mirror are glass and need to be introduced slowly from cold to warm to avoid condensation. If I’m going to be out for a long shooting session I keep spare batteries warm in a pocket.

By Tom Kelly (2015)


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