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Photography Tips – Shooting in Winter

Winter Photography Tips

Are you dreaming of photographing winter scenes?… 

Tree boughs draped in new fallen snow. Dark waters met by white shores. The low solstice sun throwing long shadows across crystalline meadows. Whatever your vision, successful winter photography takes preparedness. Conditions change fast and if you’re not ready, an amazing scene might be gone before you can say “f/8.” This list of winter photography tips will help you not miss it.

1. Be ready

Charge your battery and make sure to put it back in the camera. Have plenty of spares charged up too – cold weather drains them fast. Likewise, make sure there is a formatted memory card with plenty of space on it in your camera. Keep lens(es) clean and don’t neglect the sensor. You’ll be shooting many winter scenes at smaller apertures and sensor boogers will be especially noticeable in sky shots. Finally, keep your camera close by as much as possible. Dramatic scenes don’t announce themselves ahead of time.

2. Practice

If you’re serious about photography, then practice. A lot. You should be able to evaluate at a scene, apply your creative vision, and dial in the settings in mere seconds. If you’re stumped on exposure or fumbling with settings, you’re probably going to miss the moment.

3. Take Care of Yourself and Your Gear

Research locations and check weather ahead of time. Dress for conditions. Warm boots with a good pair of ice grippers is a must. Bring a flashlight, fully charged cell phone and a friend.

It’s okay for cameras to get cold, even a little wet, but you sure don’t want condensation to build up on the electronics. If you’re shooting in freezing temperatures, leave the camera outside until you’re done. Before bringing it into a warm environment, drop it into a ziplock bag (with lens attached), and wait until it warms up to room temperature before taking it out. Collect silicon (from shoe boxes, pill bottles, etc.) and leave them in your camera bag. Also pack a rain sleeve, along with extra cloths to wipe off excess rain or snow.

4. Turn Around

It’s easy to get fixated on one scene, when the real winner is behind you. This tip goes hand-in-hand with another like it, change your point-of-view. If you have time, work the scene from every angle you can think of. Do it while you can because you’re not going to be able to change your position later in PhotoShop. You sure don’t want to be sitting at the computer later wishing you had moved just a little this way or that.

5. Take Time

Breath in the moment while you shoot. Listen to the sounds of the season: A raven’s caw. The trickling of a mountain rivulet that hasn’t quite frozen yet. Dry leaves chattering in the wind. When you look at your photos later, these memories will come back and give more dimension and enjoyment to the image.

6. Be Flexible

Alas, sometimes winter comes up short on wintery scenes. The only thing to do when that happens is to look up. Alaska skies can be filled with mesmerizing colors and cloud formations. Twilight comes dancing in on blue shoes – sometimes unfurling diaphanous ribbons of aurora as she goes. You might not be able to get the photo you came for, but you just might just get something so much more.


Alpenglow on a peak in Glen Alps after a snowstorm. 

Sony A7RII | FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA | 1/125 sec | f/16 | ISO 400

Alaska Photo Treks offers photography tours year round.  Sunset Photo Safari operates May- September.  Twilight Photo Tour runs September-April. Departure times for both tours are dependent on sunset, which at this latitude changes dramatically throughout the year. The times for each week are posted on the respective pages for each tour. Cell phone photographers will enjoy the fun, fast-paced InstAlaska Smartphone Photography Tour. Winter months also include the northern lights viewing adventure, Anchorage Aurora Quest. Explore Alaska Photo Treks to learn more about these excellent, instructional day tours and multi-day tours and workshops.


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