Photography in Winter

Top 7 Winter Photography Tips

Capturing a white, wintry landscape on camera can be a challenge. Here, Exodus’ Olly Pemberton shares his tips on taking the perfect picture…

How to Photograph the Northern Lights

How to Photograph the Northern Lights

If you’re lucky enough to have clear skies, you might see the northern lights on your winter adventure – especially in Scandinavia. To photograph them you need to make sure you have the right equipment first: steady tripod, wide angle lens and remote shutter release are all important. For the settings themselves, if it is a good display you don’t actually need to leave the shutter speed open for too long (sometimes even 10 seconds will do it). Too long an exposure will also start to blur the stars. Try to keep the ISO as low as possible and put the manual focus to the infinity symbol. If there is water, or ice, the Northern lights can sometimes reflect off this so don’t ignore the foreground when composing your shot.

Avoid Freezing Condensation

If you are taking photos or filming in cold conditions where temperatures regularly reach -20, be very wary about coming in from the cold and rushing back out again. The camera would have iced up whilst you’re outdoors, and when it warms water droplets will form on the camera. If you rush straight back out into the cold these will freeze, and damage the working parts of the camera. If you are coming inside and you know you’ll be going out again shortly, if possible it’s best practice to leave the camera in a bag outside in the cold.

Your Thermos is Your Friend!

Thermos in the snow

Never leave home without one! Some of the most interesting photographic opportunities arise when the temperature is at its coldest. To stay sharp you need to keep your body warm. Obviously the right clothing is essential but a piping hot drink will warm you from the inside meaning you’ll expend less energy, allowing you to stay focussed for longer.

Get the Star Quality

If you are in an area with a snow-laden forest and the sun is shining, a really picturesque effect is to capture the star bursts from the sun. It adds to the drama of your shot. To do this, you need to use a high f-number and adjust the shutter speed accordingly. You also really need to catch this early in the morning, as later the sun is too intense and it just won’t work as well.

How to Photograph Snow

Snowy Forest Scene

ISO and aperture are the things to watch out for here. Too low an f-number and too high an ISO number will create a washed out look to the snow, especially when it is sunny. Using a high f-number will take off some of the glare from the reflecting snow, however if reflections off the snow become too bright, a filter must be used to artificially create low light.

Have Spare Batteries – and Keep Them Warm!

Batteries have much shorter lives in the cold, and the last thing you want in such beautiful surrounding is to run out of battery life. I recommend keeping the spare batteries in your pocket if you cam, or in a bag wrapped up. If it’s really cold, add some hand warmers in there too.

The Gloves Are Off

Operating a camera with tons of settings can be a fiddly business, so whilst thick gloves will keep you warm they’ll make the photography pretty tricky. I really recommend investing in a good pair of innards that will take the nip off your bare skin when you need access the manual settings.

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