This may seem obvious, but it's worth mentioning. You can't enjoy an outdoor photo adventure if you're cold and miserable. Here's a quick run-down of some things to consider;
- Dress in layers - this includes your legs. Make sure your outer layer will cut through the wind;
- Avoid cotton - instead wear polyester fleece, including fleece long underwear. It will wick away sweat and keep you dry and warm;
- Keep your extremities warm - Good, dry boots, gloves and hat are critical - I wear photographer's gloves when the temperatures hover around the freezing point, but once they really start to plummet I switch to my thick, heavy winter gloves. It makes handling the camera more challenging, but I would rather take the gloves off for a few seconds in order to change settings and ensure that I have warm hands the rest of the time
Last winter I was out shooting with my Olympus OMD E-M1 for over three hours in -20 C temperatures and the battery kept its charge for the whole time. I was impressed. Even so, I always keep an extra battery in my pocket where my body heat can keep it warm.
Speaking of energy, bring along a nutritious snack and warm drink to provide a bit of fuel for you. With the layered clothing you may end up sweating a bit more than you think.
Lenses will fog up when going from a cold area to a warmer one with higher humidity. In the winter your lens is unlikely to fog up while shooting outdoors. The problem occurs when you return to your warm car or other interior with higher humidity. Place the lens cap back on the lens and return the camera to your camera bag before you enter a warmer space.
Speaking of lens caps, here’s a simple tip that can definitely save some frustration. If you pocket your lens cap while shooting like I do, turn it so that the inside surface of the cap is facing away from your body. This will prevent the moisture from your sweat accumulating on it and condensing on your lens when you replace the lens cap.
Freezing rain and snowstorms do not make for good driving conditions, but they can provide the setting for some great photographs. Heavy snow can isolate your subject by eliminating distractions in the distance while ice-coated branches can refract sunlight in interesting ways. With the weather sealing on the E-M1 and E-M5 II, I shoot in conditions that I would never consider doing with other cameras.
As mentioned I'm often out shooting in less than ideal weather conditions - rain, snow or spray from waves often ends up on my front lens element. I keep several lens cloths handy. Once a lens cloth is damp it is practically useless for cleaning off your lens. Just remember to dry them fully once you return home.
Photo Tip 6 - Footprints in the Snow
I love getting out after a fresh blanket of snow has fallen. But, think carefully about your composition as you approach your subject. Nothing can ruin that blanket more than your own footprints. Start by shooting wide and then moving closer to your subject to avoid disturbing the snow. If you want to open up even more opportunities invest in a good pair of snowshoes to make easier work of trudging through deep snow.
If you have ever been disappointed with the white snow you see turning grey in your photos, you are not alone. It is your camera’s natural tendency to tone down bright areas. Bring back those whites by using the built-in histogram. By dialing up the exposure you can eliminate the greys. Just don’t overdo it or you will blow out those highlights completely. The ergonomics of the OMD line of cameras makes exposure compensation a snap and the electronic viewfinder allows for quick adjustments without ever taking your eye off the histogram and scene you are photographing.
Winter may not be considered a colourful season, but some of the best sunrises and sunsets occur at this time of the year. Get out early and stay out late to capture some of that amazing colour. Scout around for a great point of interest ahead of time, and when that sunset presents itself you will be ready.
We typically think of shooting macro in our gardens, but the ice and frost can make for some very interesting subjects. Move around these natural ice sculptures to see how the light refracts from different angles. I use both the Olympus 60mm macro lens and a good telephoto lens like 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO or new M.Zuiko 300mm f/4.0 (because of the incredibly close focusing distance). The Tough TG-4 and optional ring light can also allow you to capture the incredible details in snowflakes.
The harsh shadows, bare branches and intense contrasts can make for some interesting natural abstractions. Explore the natural patterns that present themselves.
Here is a small collection of some of my favourite winter shots.
As a child I had a real love affair with winter. I enjoyed skiing, sliding, and snowball fights. Through most of my adults years however, winter just had to be tolerated. Now, as an enthusiastic photographer, winter has regained an important place in my life. Embrace it and get shooting!