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 picturesbecause 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 skislope adventure. Try these tips for taking great winter pictures:
Carry 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.
Fool 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 functionsometimes shown as a rectangle with a center dotuse 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.
Don'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.
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.
Keep 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.
The 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 temperaturein about an hourreplace 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".