Winter nature photography presents its own special challenges. When the land is covered with a coating of snow and ice outlines branches, the outdoors are transformed into a magical place. As the snow falls, beautiful snapshots are at every turn. Squirrels nibbling seeds. Birds happily gathered around feeders and the beauty of snow-laden branches.
Lately, it snows very little in Philadelphia. I rarely have the snow glare problem. But when we get thirty inches in one snowstorm every few years, I run outside, take a long walk and snap away.
In snowy landscapes, the biggest challenge is the light bouncing off snow. There are several ways to deal with this.
Digital cameras automatically adjust for white balance, so the white appears truly white. White balance is basically the color cast in an image. Most digital cameras have this setting in the controls. The cloudy setting warms up an image with a warm yellow cast. The incandescent setting gives a cooler blue cast.
If you don’t want to use the white balance setting, the snowy scene or beach setting does basically the same thing. It might be good to take several photographs using different settings until you find the look you like best. The photo of the Mourning Dove above, was taken using the automatic white balance of the camera.
This automatic white balance makes it easy for nature photography beginners to take great photos.
Winter Nature Photography Tips
- Use the snow scene or beach setting to let the camera automatically adjust for the white glare of the snow
- Use the white balance setting on a digital camera
- Shoot immediately after a heavy snow fall
- Shoot during early morning to late afternoon
- Shoot on overcast days which have less light contrast
- If the sky is a boring gray, shoot to avoid it. Do closeups or crop the photo so the dull sky shows little in the scene
- Keep batteries warm – keep an extra set in a pocket next to your body to keep them warm
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