How to Shoot Stunning Winter Landscapes

trees, snowA lot of photographers are tempted to take a break from shooting when winter arrives because of the short days and bad weather, but this time of year is the only chance you’ll get to shoot beautiful snowy landscapes. Depending on where you live you might only get a small window of snow every year, and before you know it it’s gone until next year. So a lot of photographers don’t get to work on shooting snowy landscapes often and don’t have the experience. But hopefully these tips will help you out and get you started shooting in winter.

Check the weather

Weather is obviously the key part of shooting winter landscapes, and for this guide we’re only going to cover snow landscapes, so the weather is important. Plan ahead and check the weather before you go out shooting, the ground may be covered in snow now, but later on this could turn into rain and you’ll be left shooting in bleak conditions. Other problems you could come across for example if there’s heavy snow or a blizzard you might not even be able to see far enough to get your shots.

If there is a snow storm then don’t pack your camera away, the shots you could get will amaze you. Your viewing distance might be very short so it’s important to pick a foreground close to you that’s visible, such as a tree. Long exposures work well in these conditions for a very surreal, atmospheric look, and on the opposite end of the spectrum a very fast shutter speed can capture the snowflakes as they fall.

Choosing your gear

Don’t go all out and pack every bit of gear you probably won’t even use. Try to take only the essentials which for landscapes you’ll probably only need one or two lenses at the most. A waterproof camera bag is a good idea since it can get pretty wet especially if the weather changes to sleet or rain. Shooting in the snow can be hard work, so it’s a good idea to travel light since you might have to do a bit of walking through the snow and if there’s heavy snowfall the roads might not be accessible to where you want to shoot from.

Pick the right clothes

Take care to wear the right clothes. Layering your clothes is a good idea in case the weather changes, so you can easily just take a layer off or put one on. A waterproof is a must because if your clothes wet through this will lower your body temperature and make it impossible to get warm in cold conditions. Under your waterproof you’ll need a warm layer, such as a down feather jacket/coat, just something thick and warm. Winter boots are a good pick if you have any, these will keep your feet warm and give you more grip in the snow. Finally waterproof trousers will keep your legs from water soaking through.

Taking the shot

Exposure is the biggest problem you’ll come across in winter photography, because cameras aren’t good at picking the right exposure for a bright white scene. Cameras tend to underexposure in these conditions, turning the whites into greys, so to combat this you need to add some exposure compensation to turn the greys back into bright whites.

The right time

There’s no best time of day when it comes to winter landscapes, which in summer would be around sunrise and sunset for the best lighting. In winter the sun doesn’t rise as high depending on where you live, so you get good lighting conditions all through the day. If you head further north into arctic circle territory you’ll get the chance to shoot the polar nights, which has stunning light conditions bringing out strong pink and blue colours and the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon.

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