The weather outside is frightful: Winter Photography Tips

Winter offers wonderful photo opportunities, snow covered landscapes and icicles on the trees. Put on a warm jacket, boots and head outside with your camera, with some photo tips.

Oh the weather outside is frightful…  And since we've no place to go… Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! And let’s go outside and take a picture!

Winter can offer some wonderful photo opportunities, snow covered landscapes and icicles on the trees. Put on a warm jacket, boots and head outside with your camera. And keep in mind the following tips to help take Winter pictures that will inspire you and your friends.


A few simple tips will help prevent your camera from fogging up when you go from the warmth of your home or car, to the cold outdoors. This sudden shift in temperatures will cause your lens to fog up, form condensation inside the lens elements, delaying your picture taking. If you know you are going to shoot outdoors, put your camera in your car a few hours earlier or drive with less heat. Putting your camera and lenses in a sealed zip-lock bag will also help in the transition between warmth and cold – and vice-versa.


Snow, like sand in the Summer, will trick your camera meter and deliver photographs that are under-exposed; gray or with a blue tint. Ideally you want the snow to be clean white, natural. First, set your ISO to 100 or 200. There are a few ways to get a good exposure:

  • Set your meter to spot or fill your viewfinder with the bright snow that is in your intended scene. Record the meter reading. Then make an adjustment to the exposure:
    • If you are comfortable with the manual setting (where you set both the aperture and shutter speed, increase your exposure by one or two stops. For instance, if the meter reading suggests 1/250th shutter speed at F8, change your shutter to 1/125 OR your Aperture to f5.6 (or 1/60th or F4 for a 2 stop difference).
    • If you are using Aperture (or shutter) priority, change the EV setting by +1/2  to +1 (this will change the shutter speed (in aperture priority) or the aperture (in shutter priority) similar to the changes in the manual setting above).
  • Meter off a grey element in your image, such as a building or rocks. Or meter off the palm of your hand or the blue sky. Each of these should render a good image.
  • Advanced photographers can use their histogram to determine of the exposure is correct; the bars should be skewed to the right but not all the way over.

Take your images with your camera set for RAW. This will allow you to make1-2 stop adjustments on your computer as well.

Click a test image and view on your camera screen. Keep in mind that the cold might affect some of the electronics, changing how your image coloration may appear. I also carry some cardboard to make a viewing hood so I can see the view screen blocking much of the bright ambient light. Adjust the meter setting or EV to lighten (+) or darken (-) the image.


Invest in a polarizer filter, which will help increase the vibrancy of a grey winter sky and enhance the clouds and blue tones in the sky on a bright sunny winter day. The polarizer is adjustable, and will also help remove the glare off the snow. This is also a good all around filter for Summer skies and water. Likewise, a Neutral Density (ND) filter can help to enhance the winter scene. A ND 4 (the filter comes in different levels of light reduction), should be enough to help increase the quality of a winter scene.  An ND filter is a great addition to your camera bag if you enjoy taking photographs of waterfalls as well (stay tuned as we turn our attention to the winter thaw and the beauty of waterfalls).

Hopefully these tips will help you to take beautiful pictures this Winter season. Go “Take a Picture” in the winter wonderland, sharing your beautiful images with friends in the warmth of your home.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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