Winter Photography Tips

December 8, 2017

It’s that time of year again! As picturesque as fresh fallen snow may be this time of year it does bring challenges, such as less hours of daylight and challenging lighting.


Photo by Dominik Dombrowski on Unsplash


Not only is your camera gear important, but it’s also crucial to bundle yourself up. You would hate to cut your shoot short because you weren’t prepared for the cold. I personally love fingerless gloves; they keep most of your hands warm and don’t get in the way when you’re using your camera controls.

Moisture can be an issue in cold weather. Going from cold to warm environments can cause condensation inside and out. Be mindful when taking your camera back indoors to keep it in your gear bag until everything is room temperature.

Girl in snow

Photo by Becca Tapret on Unsplash


A great filter any time of year, but especially on a sunny winter day, is a polarizing filter. It darkens blue sky and adds definition to clouds, and it eliminates glare from the sun bouncing off of white snow. Be careful the time of day you use the filter, though. It can easily give the sky an unnatural appearance when the sun is low in the sky during the winter months.

Graduated neutral density filters are also very useful in winter photography. They help to reduce the brightness of the sky, while maintaining the exposure of the land or water below.

Winter Scene

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash


It’s not uncommon to have difficulty with autofocus with winter photography. Overcast, low contrast days, and snow falling can make it hard for the lens to focus. You may end up focusing on the falling snow rather than your subject. It’s a good idea to switch to manual focus under these circumstances.

Falling Snow

Photo by Adam Chang on Unsplash

White Balance

Trying to find the right white balance setting can be tricky. Auto can give the snow a blue tinge. It’s best to shoot in RAW, if you can. Shooting RAW will allow you to make post-processing edits that shooting in JPEG doesn’t.

Winter Scene

Photo by Igor Cancarevic on Unsplash

Exposure & Histogram

If you are someone who usually uses Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Program Mode, your images may turn out a little dark and underexposed. The bright snow can interfere with your camera’s internal light meter. You may want to try setting your camera to Manual Mode and using your camera’s histogram. After you take a shot, look at your histogram. It will tell you the level of adjustment you need for your shot.

Dog in snow

Photo by Kate on Unsplash

Shutter Speed

On a day when it’s snowing and the wind is blowing, you’ll want to think about your shutter speed and the effect you want. Slow shutter speeds will blur motion, making the falling snow appear as streaks of white. Using a fast shutter speed will freeze motion and capture the falling snow as white dots. It’s really up to you which effect you want. Play around with it and happy shooting!

Winter road

Photo by Koushik C on Unsplash


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