Capturing the Essence of Winter

Radisson — With little traffic, on a below-zero morning, a stop in the middle of the road captured the soft, muffled feel of the snow-filled, frigid air. Courtesy of Everet Regal.
Radisson — With little traffic, on a below-zero morning, a stop in the middle of the road captured the soft, muffled feel of the snow-filled, frigid air. Courtesy of Everet Regal.

Photographic tips that will hone your expertise

By Ken Sturtz

Oberon Lake, Radisson — After a fresh snowfall, scenes can often appear almost black and white. Finding a touch of color can bring depth and separation to the composition. Courtesy of Everet Regal.
Oberon Lake, Radisson — After a fresh snowfall, scenes can often appear almost black and white. Finding a touch of color can bring depth and separation to the composition. Courtesy of Everet Regal.

Winter offers wonderful opportunities to capture beautiful pictures.

For amateur shutterbugs though, winter poses some of the most challenging conditions to take pictures.

Enter photographers Everet Regal, a Granby resident, and Mic-Anthony Hay. Both have shot photos extensively outdoors in often unforgiving winter conditions.

They offered the following tips to make the most of your photographic experience:

• Bring extra batteries. Whether shooting with a digital SLR camera or a point-and-shoot camera, your batteries will drain much faster in cold temperatures. It helps to carry extra batteries in your pocket to keep them warm.

Camera phone batteries will also drain faster, so consider bringing a portable charger.

• Consider shooting in manual mode. People often put their camera on an auto mode and don’t realize they can create better quality photos by shooting manually. It’s worth learning the basics, Hay says, such as using a higher shutter speed to freeze the motion of falling snow in a picture.

Longbranch Park, Liverpool — Shooting directly into the setting sun is a great technique to utilize the silhouettes of trees against the snow-covered ground and colorful reflections. Courtesy of Everet Regal.
Longbranch Park, Liverpool — Shooting directly into the setting sun is a great technique to utilize the silhouettes of trees against the snow-covered ground and colorful reflections. Courtesy of Everet Regal.

• Overexpose for snow. The single biggest problem people have when shooting snow is that their camera will tend to underexpose photos, Regal says, which often leads snow to appear dull or gray looking. “You have to fool the camera and overexpose,” he says.

• Consider using a filter. Winter conditions can be bright, creating the potential for washed out, overexposed photos. And all that light reflecting off snow can cause serious glare. One option, Hays says, is to use a neutral density or polarizing filter.

• Don’t breathe on your lens. “It will freeze right on there and you won’t be able to get it off there until it thaws,” Regal says. And don’t use your shirt to clean snow off the lens because it can scratch it, Hay says. It’s best to invest in a lens cleaning kit or bring a soft cloth with you.

• Use the golden hour. Take advantage of the great, golden lighting available at the beginning and end of the day. The light from the sunrise and sunset can combine with the snow and landscape to create some dramatic pictures. If you need to shoot in the middle of the day, overcast weather can help depending on the subject you’re shooting.

Battle Island State Park, Fulton — Using strong shadows against white snow can create a strong composition where one may not otherwise exist. Courtesy of Everet Regal.
Battle Island State Park, Fulton — Using strong shadows against white snow can create a strong composition where one may not otherwise exist. Courtesy of Everet Regal.

• Dress properly for the weather. It’s common sense, but a lot of people go out without putting on warm clothes. And if you’re busy focusing on your photography, it’s easy to get chilled without realizing it right away. It’s crucial to find a good pair of gloves and bring along some hand warmers just in case. It’s handy to have a big coat pocket or bag that you can store your camera in and then pull out when you’re ready to shoot.

• Popular spots are popular in winter. A place such as a state park that is beautiful for shooting fall foliage in the warmer months doesn’t stop being beautiful in winter. “All the popular places in New York people visit during the spring and fall are worth visiting during the winter,” Hay says. “They have a different character.”

• Think about safety. It’s easy to get focused on the photography and forget to take basic precautions. If you’re hiking a good distance to the location you’ll be shooting at, tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Waterfalls are popular with many photographers but be careful around them, especially during winter. And make sure you have the proper footwear so you don’t slip.

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