Black Pixel
Main Features Photography Editors Tips Archives
Black Pixel
Take Winter Photography by Storm!
Winter Photo Tips

The best winter pictures have nothing to do with your choice of camera, film, or digital equipment. Here are some tips that will "freeze" your moments in time without you getting frozen.

Wearing layers of cotton, polypropylene, silk and wool help you take great pictures—because they'll keep you warm. Hats, parkas, and boots are necessities. Many outdoor photographers wear thin knit gloves inside heavy mittens and remove the outer gloves to operate their cameras. You can also buy photographer's gloves with finger openings from LowePro, or just snip off the fingertips of an old pair of gloves.

Now you're ready to photograph a snowball fight or capture your buddy's first ski—slope adventure. Try these tips for taking great winter pictures:

TipsCarry extra batteries.
Alkaline batteries work well in cold weather, but carry a spare set in an inner pocket. Today's cameras rely on electronics, so between shots, keep your camera inside your jacket to help extend its cold-weather performance.

TipsFool your light meter.
Your camera's light meter uses a gray scale for average picture-taking conditions that wants to read white snow as a light gray. If your camera has a spot meter function—sometimes shown as a rectangle with a center dot—use it to pre-focus on a non-white object. If you can, overexpose snow pictures by one or two f/stops. With a digital camera, increase the exposure value by +1.0 or more. Or, just move in close to remove background snow from your shot.

TipsDon't want to risk your pricey camera?
A one-time-use flash camera helps cut shadows caused by bright sunlight on snow. Water-resistant models don't have a flash, but they're great for shots of skiing, sledding and tobogganing.

TipsNight pictures.
Evening exposures have a more-balanced look because your film has more time to absorb details. Mount your camera on a tripod, turn off the flash, and use a self-timer or cable-release to capture subdued landscapes or the streaks of cars' taillights as they pass your camera lens. Check the exposure requirements of the film you use; a 100-speed film needs longer exposure times than a 400-speed film.

TipsKeep your camera dry.
Use a lint-free cloth to remove moisture from your lens. Just one snowflake on your lens can become a big blob in your pictures. Beware of condensation forming on your camera when you return indoors. Try placing your camera in a zip-tight plastic bag while you're still outdoors; the condensation will form on the bag, not the camera.

TipsThe big rewind.
Motorized cameras automatically rewind their exposed film. In dry, cold weather, this may cause static streaking, which looks like horizontal lightning, on your film. When you're finished shooting, remove the camera batteries and bring it all indoors. Once the camera and film reach room temperature—in about an hour—replace the batteries and rewind the film. With manual cameras, rewind the film very slowly.

For detailed winter photography recommendations, see Kodak's "Winter Photography-Better Pictures in the Snow".

(Click on pictures for larger view!)

Keep 'em moving.
If people are posed stiffly, they'll look uncomfortable in pictures. Look for action: snowboarding scenes, sledding, and snowball fights are great picture opportunities.

Snowboarders Spacer Snowball Fight

Snow close-ups.
First snowfalls create cool photo opportunities, such as these girls catching snowflakes on their tongues, or tulips surrounded by snow.

Girls playing in Snow Spacer Tulips

Go scenic.
Use the snow that dresses everyday objects to portray everyday scenes in a new light. A time exposure on Ektachrome film helped capture motion in a quiet village, while a lighthouse in winter is rendered in striking black-and-white.

Village Spacer Lighthouse

Can't get outdoors?
Bring winter's magic inside with your camera. Window shots let you use existing light to capture great winter pictures, including the puppy looking out the window at the boy or the frost patterns on a window at sunrise.

Puppy and Boy Spacer Frost on Window

Perspective and timing.
To capture unusual winter scenes, find unusual angles, as the photographer did to picture a stream running beneath a canopy of snow. Having a ready camera helped the photographer shoot a male cardinal amid a tree's ice-covered branches.

Stream Spacer Cardinal

Glimpses of color.
Look for opportunities where colors and people peek through the snow, such as this New England scene with snow-covered lobster buoys and traps or the boy's bright red snowsuit.

Lobster Traps Spacer Snowboy