Overcoming the Difficulties of Winter Photography

If you are a regular scenic photographer, you have obviously tried your skills during different seasons. Many people find that summer and fall are probably the easiest, because everything is full of color.

which season is best for photography

I have recently discovered how beautiful winter is. I may have learned to even love winter photography, because it’s a challenge. Here are just a few examples of what is so hard about winter photography:

pros and cons of winter photography

Right after a snowfall. If you look for it, you can do some incredible black and white photos.

  1. It’s cold and miserable. (Had to be first on the list.)
  2. It’s hard to shoot everything that is white and get it perfect. The light meter just does not understand you are shooting white things.
  3. I have to worry about my batteries dying before I finish taking my photos.
  4. I have a hard time finding things to take pictures of in the winter.

Winter is cold and miserable. Who wants to be miserable while taking pictures?

It’s time to look into snow boots, gloves, hats and coats that keep you warm. If you are going to actually go out in to the snow to take pictures, you must dress warm.

benefits of winter photography

Being in the snow is a challenge. Learn to dress warm and you will enjoy it.

Imagine two people in a conversation about the weather. One person says they hate winter because it’s always so cold. The other person says, “Winter is the best, because you can just put on more clothes and fix the problem.” The first person says they love summer the best because it’s warm and everything is green. The second person says, “I hate summer. It’s too hot! You can take off all your clothes and you are still hot. You just can’t get away from it.”

The point is this: there are ways to solve all of the problems mentioned above. Just learn how to fix them.

How can I make my snow look white, instead of blue or grey?

How come you get blue or grey snow? Here is the real reason: The light meter in your camera is balanced to a spec called 18% grey. If you take all the colors in the world, and mix them up, you will get grey. And your light meter in your camera doesn’t know you are taking pictures of white. It thinks the white is supposed to be grey.

snow photography white balance solution

When you use your automatic mode on your camera, the white snow will come out either blue or grey.

So, what do you have to do? You have to “overexpose” just slightly so that it gives you a brighter picture.

Overexpose? That’s not in my book. If you want white snow with your photo, then overexpose. If you are shooting in an automatic mode, then find the dial that goes +0.5, +1, +1.5, +2.0 and so forth. You have to experiment a little so you know how much that dial should be set at. It will vary depending on your light. A good rule of thumb is to set your camera dial at +1.5. That should be the best choice, and then check out your results.

winter photography help

Another way to do it, depending on your camera, is to follow the little pictures or icons on your camera. If you set the dial to “snow” or “sand”, it should work pretty well with that setting. Again, try it, and see how it looks.

How do I protect my batteries in the cold?

Every good winter photographer is aware of this problem. And every good winter photographer keeps a spare set of batteries in their pocket. It is just something you do if you want to be successful at winter photography.

What can I take pictures of in the winter? Everything looks so “dead”.

That’s because everything is dormant right now. But there is beauty in this, if you look for it. Look at the trees. Are they covered in snow? What angle would work?

find beauty in winter photos

Sometimes winter will provide you with a little fog to create a certain mood.

When you look at the photo above, yes, you can see a bunch of dead plants to the side of this road. But notice how they are all frosted. Or they could have snow on them to make it even more interesting. Use your composition skills and look for leading lines.


If you want to take good winter photos, it will take practice. And you will have to get into the habit of “looking for a photo,” to get something you want. It seems that every time I go out and take photos in the winter, I can come back with some real good photos. That isn’t a coincidence—it’s because I look for the right shot. Apply these tips listed here and you, too, can enjoy winter.

Here are some more winter photos I love:

great winter photo tips

great winter photo tips

great winter photo tips

About the Author:
Lanny Cottrell has been involved in teaching photography for over 25 years. He has worked as a manager of a photo store in Utah, and now has started to do the things he loves the most, and that is to train photographers to be the best they can be. He has a blog at: 123PhotoGo and has a gallery page of black and white photos he collects every year that you can find in the menu of the website. Now with over 37,000 followers on Facebook, you can always find some great information there too.

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