Shooting images in the winter offers the photographer an entirely different perspective to other times of the year, requiring a different skillset and presenting unique challenges.
Besides the obvious hurdles of timing, getting to location on treacherous roads, and staying warm in frigid conditions there are technical challenges that must be overcome.
Exposure. Due to the mechanics behind metering, Images with expanses of snow tend to be under-exposed when a camera is left to its own devices. This requires that the photographer compensate when capturing the image
Power.. this may not be an obvious technicality but battery capacity diminishes rapidly in cold weather. It is important to keep a charged backup at hand - while a ‘drained’ battery may be recovered somewhat by warming (next to the skin) this should only be considered in desperation. Best be prepared.
Falling snow…… I love capturing gently falling snow - the environment is normally pretty surreal - with not a single person around and the falling snow creating a blank white backdrop it can feel that you are the only person in the world. However, such a surreal environment creates further challenges.
Firstly a decision has to be made on shutter speed - does it make sense to shoot fast and capture snowflakes as dots, or would the story of the image benefit from extending the exposure, with the snowflakes creating trails.
But the biggest issue I come across when shooting in a snowstorm is …. the snow itself! I have had many an image ruined by a snowflake falling right in front of the lens as the image was captured. To counter this I tend to take multiple shots and pick the one least affected for processing.
Tripods….. are difficult to use in deep snow - as you press down into the snow the legs want to splay out. The only way I have found around this is to basically dig a hole for each leg so it is not pushed by snow. If any reader has a work-around for this I’d love to know.
Although challenging, taking pictures through winter can be extremely rewarding. I have to say that even if my efforts turn out as epic failures I always enjoy getting out there and giving nature a run for its money.
I hope you found this helpful, and would love to hear of any winter tales you would like to share.