The winter chill has well and truly set in but don't let that deter you from getting out and taking photos. Winter provides a whole new world of amazing photographic opportunities, whether your days are grey, sunny, rainy, foggy or snowy. Read our tips for photographing in different weather conditions, then rug up and get shooting!
Grey days are good days for photography! The cloud cover diffuses the sun and provides even lighting without harsh shadows. This can be very flattering for portraits, or any type of outdoor photography. Depending on the mood of your photos, you may wish to set your white balance to cloudy to add some warmth to the image. A gold reflector can also be used to similar effect to enhance portraits. Of course, you can choose to embrace or even emphasise the cooler tones if you wish to create images that depict a more sombre mood.
||Photo by Alwyn Hanson
On the flip side, the colder months can deliver an interesting challenge when the winter sun is contrasty. This can be overcome by using fill flash to minimise the shadows, but to create very dramatic photos why not learn how to harness this light and use it for good! Contrast lighting can create very dramatic and interesting photos if you turn it to your advantage. It might seem counter-intuitive, but try shooting into the sun! Positioning your subject in with the sun behind them can create a beautiful hair light. Meter off the brightest area on your main subject, but be careful not to blow out the background detail too much unless that is the effect you are going for.
Rainy days means that protecting your gear is paramount. Look for trees or awnings that will offer you protection from the rain when shooting, or pack an inexpensive rainsleeve. Rain brings a whole new choice of photographic subjects, like reflections in puddles or even reflections in raindrops for the macro photographer, rainbows, people carrying colourful umbrellas and much more. This is probably one time when you don't want to compensate with your white balance as to add too much warmth to a photo taken on a rainy day may look unnatural – embrace the cool grey skies!
Photo by Alwyn Hanson
In the snow, be careful of white balance and exposure. It is good practice to underexpose by two stops, which will help to keep snow looking white in your photos. To ensure more accurate colour recording use a grey card or at least shoot in RAW so you can make adjustments later. Many compact cameras have a snow setting to help you achieve accurate exposure and colour balance. Extreme changes in temperature means that extra care is needed to protect your valuable gear. To avoid condensation or fogging, place your camera into a sealed plastic bag before moving your camera from a warm to a very cold environment, and vice versa. Allow the camera to adjust to its new climate before removing it from the bag. Cold conditions can also reduce battery life, so keep a charger and/or spare battery handy.