7 tips to take spectacular Winter wonderland images
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7 tips to take spectacular Winter wonderland images

Winter is close upon us and with that comes the promise of getting outside in the freezing cold and creating some beautiful landscape images. Photo Tom gives us 7 tips to enhance our winter images.

  1. Misty Mountains: Use fog or most as a compositional device to create negative space or frame an interesting part of the landscape. Fog and mist add a lot of mystery and atmosphere to an image so if you can predict when there might be some around it’s a great ‘tool’ so to speak to make your images interesting and ethereal.
  2. KISS: Nope, not under the mistletoe, just Keep It Simple Stupid! In snowy scenes, minimalism is your friend. Focus on just one or two elements and make them shine in the composition. Once again negative space gives a feeling of isolation, of the world standing still, of bleakness, of peace…however you want to interpret it really. But I always like to think of those moments when it’s snowing and there’s that eery quiet that descends. Apparently it’s not just in our imaginations, but the snow actually acts as an audio damping device, muffling sounds.
  3. Pine trees covered in fresh snow: In the mountains when the first snow is falling, you will find the pine trees adorned with fresh snow. It’s particularly beautiful at this time and the trees look like a classic Christmas tree. Similarly, if you can capture trees just after an ice storm before the ice starts to melt that can also be spectacular.
  4. Snow Texture: When it’s really windy you will get some amazing textures and dune-like rivulets being created in the snow. Usually, the snow needs to be quite powdery to get this effect, but if you’re lucky enough to witness it, it definitely is worth braving the cold, wrapping up properly and going out shooting. Bonus points for catching the patterns during the start and end of the day when the sun is at a lower angle and so lighting up from the side to emphasize texture more.
  5. Foggy Sunrises: Back to fog again! To predict fog you can use an app to predict the dew point, so fully prepared you can go out and capture those gorgeous misty sunrises. Who needs sleep anyway? At least in winter, the sun rises later anyway!
  6. Separate your subject with light: You can create visual impact and guide your viewer to the most important part of the image by only having the light (sun) fall of that part of the image. Easy to do in a studio setting, for landscape photography though it requires a lot of waiting, then being very busy for those fleeting moments when the light is in the correct place. Try not to miss it! I would say that landscape photography is 50% planning, 40% waiting and 5% luck.
  7. Foggy forest with hoar frost: More fog! But the frost is always a wonderful thing to photograph, particularly if you can backlight it. Hoar frost is when the frost sticks to all the shapes of the leaves and twigs and is almost crystal-like in its nature.

Two more tips of my own (from bitter experience I might add) would be to wear appropriate clothing. Base layers are totally unsexy but essential in sub-zero conditions. Hats, gloves, and layers are essential. If you get wet as well as cold you will not have much time before hypothermia sets in, and always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.

The other thing to remember is that batteries drain very quickly in cold temperatures. Keep spares in the inside pocket of your jacket to keep them as warm as possible. And don’t be too surprised if your fancy digital camera starts playing up. Many Polar wildlife film-makers and photographers often have to use film rather than shoot digital because the cameras simply cannot cope with such low temperatures.

Stay warm and enjoy your winter landscapes!

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