Finally, we are getting some winter snow…
Here are a few quick thoughts to make your Winter Photography more enjoyable and successful.
Often, the first thing you notice when you take your camera from your cozy warm home to the frigid winter air, is the lens and/or viewfinder fog up, right!? (This usually has no affect on internal parts though there is potential for that). Foggy lens or viewfinder sure makes it difficult to see what you want to photograph. And those of us that wear glasses experience the same problem. To take photos outside during a cold winter day here are some tips that will help you avoid common problems and make your photos better.
Avoid drastic temperature changes. Let the camera adjust to the cold air slowly. To do this, leave your camera in the camera bag for 15-20 minutes after taking it outside. (or longer depending on how cold it is). Put it in the trunk or away from the heat source while traveling. This will allow it time to adjust as you travel to your destination. If you are taking a point-and-shoot or pocket camera without a camera bag, wrap it in a scarf or put in into an extra glove. This will allow a slower cool down and minimize fog-up, caused from the rapid temperature change and condensation. Avoid exhaling near the viewfinder (if using a camera so equipped). Breathing on your fingers might warm them up, but not good for your camera. This is less of a problem with Live-view or point-and-shoot cameras that you simply view the rear screen, but still a problem with DSLR cameras. The opposite is a problem too, when you come indoors from being out in the cold. You will want to let your camera warm up slowly by leaving it in the camera-bag, or wrapped up in a scarf or glove.
When the air temperature is below 32 degrees, your battery life can be cut dramatically. So bring spare batteries. If you are going for an extended period, or a weekend trip, take your camera battery charger and use a portable Inverter to charge while you are driving. These are an inexpensive accessory, around $20., that can be left in the glove box. (do we still call them “glove boxes??) Example of portable inverter’s: http://amzn.to/zAh5U3 or http://bit.ly/zn4zgT
Snow can fool your camera and under-expose the picture. If you are taking photographs of family or friends (sledding for example), the snow will make your camera think it is brighter and cause peoples faces to be darker than you want.
Here is an example: http://lapeerphotography.com/workshop/SNOWdirt/index.htm
This problem is easily solved by telling your camera to compensate for snow. Some cameras have a setting for shooting in snow or it may be called “backlight”, other cameras have an exposure compensation. For cloudy/overcast skies, you will want to add approximately 1 to 1.5 stops. For bright sun, you will want to add about 2 stops. Check your manual for “shooting in the snow”.
Photo Lab prints:
If you print your photos at a lab, and you know you adjusted appropriately for the snow, but your photos come out with gray snow, tell the Lab to reprint them “With white snow this time”. Often the machines will do an automatic adjustment, the wrong way. The lab is will be happy to correct their error.
If you are posting photos on-line or printing yourself, use your favorite image editor and bump the exposure up slightly until the snow is white. If your snow is blue, check to make sure your white balance is not set to indoor (tungsten).
Most importantly, make sure you are dressed warm. Chemically activated hand/boot warmers are a valued accessory when outdoors, shooting in cold weather. I have the air activated ones, if you get the smallest ones you can slip them in your gloves, on top or in your palm to keep the blood flowing to your fingers.