5 Photography Tips for Stunning Winter Landscapes

While winter has already arrived or is coming soon in parts of the western hemisphere, now is the time to start talking about those great winter landscapes and how to capture those stunning moments on camera. It’s very easy for your landscape images to end up looking like everyone else’s.  To think out of the box can really pay off and can give that wow-effect to your images. So what are the particular considerations to think about when you are out shooting landscape’s at this time of year?

Tip 1: It’s still all about light

In this time of year, the sun moved to the other side of the equator from our point of view. This means that days are significantly shorter. But it also means that the good light in the morning and evening hours lasts longer due to the slow rising/descending sun, so you need to make the most of this precious resource. Early morning light is still very attractive, and even better, you don’t have to get up quite so early in the western hemisphere since the sun is rising somewhere between 08:00 and 09:00 am.

Try to avoid harsh mid-day sunlight as it’s very hard and unflattering, and if you can’t avoid it, try using fill-in flash to ease some of the shadows, or a reflector. You can use your pop-up flash in Aperture Priority mode, winding the power down using flash compensation if necessary. Late afternoon light can be very nice too, but check the sunset times, it gets dark quickly at this time of year. A good program to do this is The Photographer’s Ephemeris.

Tip 2: Think about graphic shapes in the landscapes

In this time of year, the absence of leaves on trees, and color in the field is an obvious sign of winter, and while it’s sad to lose the autumn hues, you can turn this to your advantage. Lone, skeletal-looking trees against a dramatic sky can look great. Because the lack of interesting colorful flowers/lush trees or other objects which you normally use to attract the eye of the people who watch your photos, it means that the elements which are there just have to play a more dominant role. you need the sky to be quite dramatic and some foreground interest (or something to lead-in the eye) is important too.

To keep the drama in the sky, you may need used a Neutral Density filter or replicate the effect in software. Also, a bare field covered in snow with just one lonely tree can give a very strong photo as well. Minimalism should never mean boring.

Tip 3: Be prepared to go slow

This is a great time of year to dust off the tripod and try some long exposure effects. Try combining these with an extreme Neutral Density filter, or a Lee Big Stopper, which you can get online for about €130. To find out more about Lee filters also check their Leefilters website. Leefilters are currently the best filters you can buy. They are expensive, but definitely a good investment.

For example, Clouds skidding across a sky can look amazing over a frozen lake, Also some nice effect can be created when shooting through falling snow. However, Do pay attention that your lens is not covered with snow. always take your photo with the wind in your back and use your lens hood to get most of the snow from falling on your lens. It takes a bit of practice to use such a radical devices, but the results can be really great too.

You may also need to correct the color temperate in software post-shoot (very easy if you shoot raw), because your camera tends to underexpose quite a bit to correct for the white snow. Shooting manual mode gives you more control to handle this effect. It is always a good idea to take a look at the histogram after you shot the photo to be sure you have a right exposure.

Tip 4: Try black and white

Winter is obviously perfect for black and white – check out Bas Meelker’s incredibly moody monochrome landscapes if you need a bit of inspiration. Split-toning effects can look great too, and these are very easy to add in software. Lightroom, for example, has a black and white ‘selenium’ preset which is a great starting point, and it takes about two seconds to access this in the Develop module.

Chilly blue tones are obviously ideal for the colder temperatures, but other hue combinations can work well too. Great landscape photography is more than just technique however, so think about how you are feeling about a landscape, and how you can capture this emotional response with your camera

Tip 5: Dress for succes

It is a thing where most people don’t think about, but a very common mistake is not to dress up properly. It would be a waste of time when you are on location, picked a nice scenery and made your composition and you have to wait for the best light in freezing cold while not dressed up properly. I can asure you, that’s not a nice thing to do. So invest in proper boots and socks, a water/wind resistance jacked and some descent gloves to keep yourself warm. It is also a good idea to bring a thermos with coffee or tea, just to keep you warm. Also, let people know where you are going and bring your cellphone with you.

Happy hunting.