Don’t spend the winter waiting for the first day of spring! Taking photos on a cold, crisp winter day is a great way to enjoy one of Canada’s most photogenic seasons.
I love winter. I can’t wait for the first snowstorm to blanket the landscape with a frosting of magic crystals… and I take great pride in being able to overcome the many challenges of cold weather photography to capture images that cause my friends and clients to say “WOW!”
The most important element of winter photography is obviously to be well prepared. This preparation starts with a wise choice of clothing. Warm and comfortable are the two key goals. If you are cold and wet, your winter photography adventures will be short and unproductive.
To succeed in recording the majesty of the Canadian winter, you have to second-guess your camera meter. Conceived and manufactured in much warmer environments, the camera meter always tries to achieve an average exposure corresponding to blue skies, green grass, and an overall reflectance of 18% grey – about the shade of a well-travelled asphalt road. Obviously, this won’t work between November and March! That is why the photography of snowscapes often results in underexposed images. Winter subjects rarely match the camera’s programmed target exposure of medium grey – many winter photos will be too dark if the camera is set on any of the automatic exposure modes. The solution is to take a meter reading of a Kodak 18% Grey Card, then set the exposure manually, or dial-in the appropriate exposure compensation factor.
Once you are confident that you can tackle the winter exposure challenges, you are ready to explore the great outdoors for photo opportunities. Winter provides a variety of unique subjects, look for ice formations, newly fallen snow, reflections, animals in their winter habitat – the possibilities are endless once you leave the warmth of your home to explore the winter wonderland.
Some of the most striking winter images can be captured more easily in winter than during the warmer seasons – for example, sunrise is a breeze in winter, because you don’t have to wake up at 3:30 in the morning! So get out and catch that great light of the first hour of the day!
Article by Michel Roy
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