Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Winter Photograph Tips

Cloth asked, "Do you wear gloves while shooting is what seems to be sub-zero temperatures? If you get a chance, blog this for the timid among us:) "



The layering of clothing is essential because I can vary from being both hot or cold during the day. My first layer next to my skin is breathable and lightweight so that the moisture is pulled away from my skin. My second layer creates the protection from the temperature outside. This layer can be a combination of fleece, vest and a hiking top. My final layer is protection from the rain, wind or wet snow.

Layering allows you to add or subtract clothing as required to help regulate
your body temperature. There's nothing like being too hot after a hike in the
snow followed by an hour of standing around in the cold and in wet clothes
while shooting.

The head is a great source of heat loss. I wear a socking cap type hat that will cover my ears.

For my feet I start with a thin, lightweight liner sock to wick away the moisture from my toes. The next layer is a wool hiking sock. I wear waterproof boots before heading out into the snow as warm, dry boots are very important. Jane (Thank you!) gave me foot warmers to wear inside my boot.

When I track, I wear gaiters over my boots and pants to keep the snow and moisture out. I have to dig them out to use in the snow. I either wear jeans, fleece or a wind stopper pants depending on the temperature and the wind. Mittens are always warmer than gloves. But since I need the ability to use my fingers, I wear a pair of waterproof or wind stopper gloves and put mittens on over them that I can remove when I find something to photograph. (And Jane gave me hand warmers to wear inside my mittens!)

During the winter months the cold can have a very negative effect on batteries. I always carry spare batteries in my warm pants pocket very close to my body. I alternate between the ones in my camera and the ones that are in my pocket. When walking around, I put my camera inside my coat.

If it is snowing, I protect my camera with a zip-lock bag. Cut an opening for the camera lens and viewfinder. If needed, wrap a rubber band around the bag and camera to hold the bag in place. I do not blow the snow off the camera lens as the condensation from my breath might freeze on the lens. Brush all snow off instead. When I am done for the day, I place the camera into a small plastic bag to protect from condensation on the camera when it is brought inside. I don't breathe through my nose on the camera's viewfinder when I photograph as I might create some ice on the viewfinder due to condensation.


The sunlight during the early morning and late afternoon offers unique photography opportunities due to the reflections and colors. Get an early start and I will be rewarded. I am not a morning person however and often just shoot as the sun goes down.


I look for the contrasting lines and objects that appear when the snow does not completely cover the landscape. Place myself in multiple positions to find the most dynamic photograph. I try not to forget to add some color to the photograph as it will create a dramatic effect with the white snow.


Night photography can be accomplished from the light of the moon. The landscape lights up under the light of the moon and the reflection of the snow. (But it has been toooooo cold for me to go out at night to shoot.)


Remember, the camera meter wants to make everything a midtone. The brilliant color of white will turn a murky gray if I do not compensate for this brilliance. Open up from one to two stops to add more light.
Example: Aperture set at F16
1 stop open - Aperture F11
2 stop open - Aperture F8

Shutter set at 1/125 of a second
1 stop open - 1/60 of a second
2 stop open - 1/30 of a second

The snow reflection goes from forty to fifty percent with dirty snow, up to eighty to ninety percent with fresh fallen snow and even higher reflection with wet, fresh fallen snow.


If the freshly fallen snow is pure white, meter the pure white area only with spot-metering. There will not be any detail in the snow. Open up 2 stops.


If the snow is side lit and I see a lot of detail in the snow, then the snow is not pure white. Pure white has no detail. Textured snow is 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 stops lighter. If I open up to 2 stops, my photograph will be too light.


If the day is sunny and the snow is in shadows, it can vary up to 1 stop.


If the day is overcast, meter the snow and open up 2 1/2 stops.

I bracket my exposures by setting my shutter speed at increments of 1/2- and take a series of shots.

4 comments:

Jane said...

Maybe someday you can show me how to use my point-and-shoot camera. 'Cuz I can't even figure out the easy settings.

Glad you like the mitten and foot warmers! Aren't they a miracle?

Jane said...

You could also put a warmer in the camera case or with the batteries so your gear doesn't freeze.

Paige said...

Now that is a great idea about the plastic bag-- I was wodnering about that as I tried to take photos of rain yesterday. I failed miserably.

Now to actually LEARN the othe stuff you posted

Holly said...

wow! That is one information packed post! thank you!