Photo Tips: In a Winter Wonderland | Black Hills Travel Blog
  • Greg's Photo Tips: In a Winter-wonderland
    Photo Tips: In a Winter Wonderland

My personal photography slows down in the winter time, but my camera (and gloves) are always close by. Sure the flowers are gone and the colors muted, but there is a unique beauty that only winter can offer—as unique as a snowflake. (Cheesy, I know.)

In photography, every season poses its own approaches and challenges. The key is to be prepared and mindful.

Here are some of my winter tips:

Be Prepared
Wear light and easily removable layers. This mainly plays into mobility and dexterity.

Take gloves for example. It can be difficult to shoot with larger bulkier gloves, so I mix-match and layer them. I keep a thicker one on my left and a thinner one on my right. Why do I do this? The barrel of a lens on a DSLR can get pretty cold sitting outside for an extended period of time, and the thinner glove allows me to better 'feel' my camera's focus and shutter controls. In summary, my left hand provides stability and lens control (zooming), and my right hand is the trigger finger.

Also, if I'm going to be outside for an extended amount of time, I will usually keep hand warmers in my pocket. This is especially useful if you happen to be shooting a winter wedding with prolonged periods of time spent looking for the perfect shot.

If you are shooting with your phone, I would recommend touch sensitive gloves.

Perspective
It can be easy to get in the habit of shooting from a standing or elevated position. In winter, especially with snow on the ground, shooting low can provide a textural experience that no other season can offer. This also applies to shooting wildlife. Photographing an animal or person at eye level creates a much more engaging experience.

Capture the Details
Get close! The way snow accumulates on pine needles is a beautiful thing. Notice the wavy, yet crystalline nature of icicles. Water can freeze in subtle ways, and textures and shapes will appear contingent upon the conditions in which it froze. My challenge for you this winter is to find a frozen waterfall and play around with your shots and angles to capture various textures.

Locations
Even though snow and freezing temperatures can make it difficult to traverse the terrain, they can also provide access to new locations. This winter, consider photographing on a frozen lake. (Please take precaution before you go out on any body of water that appears frozen. This is my one true disclaimer.) Per South Dakota Game Fish and Parks, if it is less than 4" of ice, STAY OFF!

If you have some favorite summer spots, revisit them through the seasons. Take a picture of the location from the same angle and camera position. The outcome will be a photo series that may look wonderful on your wall!

Be Mindful of Your Metering
If you rely on your camera's automatic features, the white snow may throw off your metering. One rule of thumb to consider is your camera's automatic metering system will underexpose a scene ~1-stop, due to the abundance of white. Adjust your camera to compensate +1 stop, or if you are shooting on your phone, use some of the exposure features in your favorite camera app.

Those who are a little more camera savvy and have the time should try to shoot manually. The beauty of shooting digital is the instant result, which allows you to rely on your camera's LCD screen for immediate feedback. Take a peek and adjust accordingly.

All-in-all, try to get out there and experience the beauty that this unique season has to offer.

About the Author

Greg a California native who transplanted to South Dakota with his wife and children over 7 years ago.  Armed with a background in professional photography, Greg chooses to tell the story through the eye of the camera.  His appreciation for the Black Hills stems from his outside-looking-in approach.

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