We recently published a blog post showing off some of the photos we took during a rare Dubrovnik snow storm. Since half of our thrill from that winter walk came from the photographic opportunity, I though I should also share some tips for photography in winter weather. I hope you’ll find this useful:
Protect yourself and your gear
Ok, it’s cold out there, so bundle up! The last thing you want to do is get sick or have to cut the session short because you can’t stop shaking. Make sure your subject(s) are comfortable too. Dannie and Lisa look great in their dresses, but they look even better when they are smiling. They both had nice warm coats on as we explored the icy streets of frozen Dubrovnik.
Also, moisture kills cameras (trust me). It wasn’t actually snowing very hard while we were outside in Dubrovnik, so I felt confident enough to pull the camera out of my water resistant bag for just long enough to snap a few photos before wiping it off and putting it away. If it’s really coming down you should definitely have at least a plastic bag wrapped around your camera and lens (with a hole to shoot through of course). If you’re in a city and it’s not too windy you can also duck under awnings and overhangs to keep your camera dry while you compose your shots.
Keep in mind that when you step inside buildings your lens is likely to fog up, making photography impossible for quite a while. Avoid going in and out whenever possible, and get any indoor shots you want before you go out.
I love using a telephoto lens when it’s snowing out. A nice long lens compresses the apparent distance between you and your subject, making the foreground look as though it is just brimming with beautiful snowflakes. I might have gotten more if I’d used our 70-200mm, but the 24-70mm gave me just enough for the effect I wanted, plus it gave me the flexibility to get some broader landscapes without switching lenses in the snow.
Check your images
If you are relying on your camera’s exposure measurements, you might get darker images than you want. Your camera will always try to make the image look neutral gray. Since snow fills your frame with pure whiteness it can throw the whole reading off. Even if you are using manual mode, make sure that you look at your screen once in a while and don’t just rely on the meter.
Enjoy the easy lighting
Generally speaking, when it’s snowing, it’s cloudy. And that means nice soft, even, flattering light. Sure you could use flash for fill lighting or off camera to add a little direction, but I always thought winter should look a little moody. Plus, the flash can catch the snowflakes and look very obvious and unnatural. Why bother worrying about the extra gear when the photos will look great without it.
Look for the simple things
Snow doesn’t just transform the landscape. Everyday objects look completely different and new with a white blanket. Don’t forget to get up close to some of the details that lie half burried all around you. The snow cuts away the clutter and creates shapes and contrasts out of seemingly nowhere!
Hope these tips inspire you to get out there in the snowy winter!