10 Tips for Better Winter Landscapes

10 Tips for Better Winter Landscapes

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Winter is a cold and dark season for many ways people it could be defined as not ideal for shooting landscapes. The hours of light are few and especially in the mountains it could be very cold.

Nevertheless it is one of my favorite seasons to capture photos, some winter colors are unique in their kind and the mountain landscapes are filled with snow and ice that helps framing different compositions

Photographing winter is more challenging than other seasons it needs extra protection for the camera and it need more time to plan your shots. In this article we will see 10 tips for better winter landscapes that will help you to capture beautiful images

1 Use a Cold White Balance

For all those who shoot in raw the white balance can be easily adjusted in post processing, but if you have the possibility to set a cold white balance on your camera at the time of you’re shooting it, can help give a greater winter atmosphere to your images

The proper white balance give more winter atmosphere to your images

It is above all the sense of having high-performance and expensive cameras, if you have the possibility, it is better to do these steps before shooting

2 Look at Forecast

It is not uncommon to find winter days characterized by a dense gray sky and not very interesting. Checking the weather often helps you not miss the opportunity to take the winter photo you imagined

Not only sunny days are interesting for winter, weather is changing very often during this season and few thing are more beautiful than a snowy landscapes

3 Overexpose your Shots

Usually overexposing a bit your images it’s a good tip for every kind of landscapes shots. Likewise overexpose winter landscapes is the key to capture beautiful images and looks the key method to deal with clear white sky

Overexposing your shots helps your images look better in clear sky situations

Be aware on the histogram when you do overexpose your shots and keep attention to clipping highlights. On the subject I suggest you to read the article how to read histogram for better photography exposure

4 Bring Extra Batteries

Carrying spare batteries it is one of the most useful tips during the winter season, especially when shooting landscapes in cold or very cold temperatures

Shooting in cold weather can reduce battery life dramatically. An extra tip is also to keep batteries near to you (for example in your pocket to keep them warm) and limit the use of live view which contributes to shortening battery life

5 More Shooting Opportunities

Contrary to what happens at other seasons of the year where most of the shots are concentrated during the golden/ blue hour in winter photography there are more shooting opportunities

More shooting opportunities in daylight

During the winter season there are more changes to take interesting photographs also during other times of the day, sun is setting early compared to other seasons, sunset comes much earlier and it is easier to capture softer lights at other times of the day

Even during midday or with a blue sky light can result more interesting when you’re in a winter wonderland

6 Add Textures to the Foreground

Winter offers great opportunities to include in your images composition with great and unique foregrounds. The snow itself it’s only a valid composition element but there are many other elements that helps compositions

Adding textures helps photography composition

You can use cracked ice, frozen lakes, patterns into the ice or rocks this is yet another reason why it’s important to slow down and look your surroundings before you begin photographing winter, you will impressed by what you will find!

7 Watch your Steps

In photography composition, an important point is not to include too many distracting elements for the photo viewer. When we are photographing the snow (especially the fresh one) leaving footprints in the direction of our composition can be a very disturbing element

Patterns and tracks are distracting elements

For this reason it is very helpful to take a good look around before taking steps on the snow and avoid leaving footprints in the direction of our shots. This simple notice allows you to avoid a lot of waste of time in post processing

8 Look for Contrasts

During winter the colors of landscapes are frequently dominated by white and often in the absence of dominant compositions the image can be flat and lack of contrast

For this reason, adding elements of strong contrast with white can help make our photos better

Some examples can be

  • Dark trunks
  • Rocks
  • An animal
  • A house

Simply composing your image adding one of these elements will make your photo more attractive to the viewer and strenghten your composition

9 Look for Colors

Same thing we wrote above for the contrasts also applies to the colors. In a snowy landscape dominated by white tones, a touch of color helps to improve the photographic composition and obtain a more interesting image.

Colors and contrasts helps photography composition in the snow

Some examples can be

  • A person with a colored jacket
  • A colored building
  • Isolated colored trees

10 Add Details

Images can appear flat and uninteresting when there’s nothing standing out in the foreground and the majority of the image is white. Adding details by zooming into a subject can help give more depth to our image and make details more visibles

Focusing on details gives more depth to your image

Getting closer to the subject will add depth and instantly make the image more visually appealing, it also helps to find new interesting photographic compositions

Bonus Tip: Keep your Hands Warm

Spending a long time outdoors taking pictures can be really difficult if you don’t cover yourself properly. The cold can turn into a strumbling block to your shot and your outdoor projects

For this reason, as a bonus tip I suggest you equip yourself with professional equipment also in clothing and I suggest you use gloves that allow you to keep your hands warm and dry and at the same time allow you to interact with your equipment easily. About this I am a big user of The Heat Company gloves, leaders in the winter gloves sector for photographers who shoot in all these circumstances

I also like their warming pads that are a real godsend. I often use those for my feets, very useful when you spend hours with boots on the ice 🙂

Conclusion

Winter is a great season for landscape photographers who are willing to brave the cold and snow. It’s time to capture landscapes details during this season like no others can do

The most important advice is to have fun and don’t stress about too much technicalities, let surroundings embrace you with the winter atmosphere and get inspired

Remember this tip for your winter photography, as always I hope you will find this usefull. Let me know in the comments below your winter favourite advice


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Hi, my name is Giuseppe Sapori, a professional photographer and author of this website, created by yours truly to show my work and share with you the techniques I use. My expertise is in the field of Landscape Photography... (Read More)

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