Pho­to: www.pxhere.com

Many pho­tog­ra­phers con­sid­er win­ter to be exclu­sive­ly a “stu­dio” sea­son, but even in cold weath­er, you can con­tin­ue to shoot out­doors. Win­ter is not only cold and snow­falls. It is also a beau­ti­ful light, the “gold­en hour” at 9, not 5 in the morn­ing, and a mag­i­cal atmos­phere around. All of these can be used to cre­ate beau­ti­ful win­ter por­traits. But first you need to pre­pare your­self and the equip­ment — we tell you how.

General Winter Shooting Tips

First of all, it is very impor­tant that your hands and fin­gers are warm, because you need to press the but­tons and turn the knobs! This will require com­fort­able gloves. An excel­lent option would be with remov­able fin­ger­tips. Gloves that can use the touch­screen are also good (espe­cial­ly if you’re adjust­ing set­tings and focus point using the dis­play).

Warm up your­self and make sure that your mod­el is also dressed for the weath­er! Pho­to: picryl.com

Sec­ond­ly, you need a reli­able back­pack or cam­era bag. In it, the cam­era and oth­er equip­ment will be reli­ably pro­tect­ed dur­ing trans­porta­tion to the loca­tion and after the pho­to­set.

And since we are talk­ing about the loca­tion (third­ly), think about the shoot­ing loca­tion in advance. It will be cold dur­ing the pho­to­set, and you will no longer have time to look for a suit­able place or a beau­ti­ful back­ground. It is also desir­able that there is some­where near the shoot­ing loca­tion to pause and warm up (cafe, car, etc.).

Equipment preparation

Win­ter is cold and damp. And tech­nol­o­gy does not like such con­di­tions very much. There­fore, you should try to keep your cam­era, flash, and extra bat­ter­ies (more on that in a moment) under your out­er­wear. Take them out for direct use only.

Camera Protection

In heavy snow, it is bet­ter to pro­tect the cam­era with a spe­cial rain cov­er. Alter­na­tive­ly, shoot under an umbrel­la. In any case, using the cam­era with­out weath­er pro­tec­tion in snow or rain is at your own risk. Sure, you can shoot with a rugged “com­pact” (Fuji­film FinePix XP140, Olym­pus TG‑6), but these cam­eras aren’t great for pro­fes­sion­al por­traits.


In win­ter weath­er, it is very impor­tant to choose the right lens right away, because chang­ing it out­doors at this time is not the best idea: snow and mois­ture can eas­i­ly get inside the cam­era. It is rea­son­able to take a more or less uni­ver­sal zoom or your favorite por­trait lens and shoot the entire pho­to shoot with only this lens. We also rec­om­mend keep­ing a clean­ing cloth in an eas­i­ly acces­si­ble place to quick­ly wipe off snow or water drops.

Take the lens hood

Be sure to take a lens hood with you when shoot­ing in the “frost and sun” — the snow works like a giant reflec­tor, so ambi­ent light can reach the lens and cre­ate unwant­ed glare.

UV filters

To elim­i­nate the “haze”, which is typ­i­cal for shoot­ing in the cold and in win­ter in par­tic­u­lar, there is a great tool — ultra­vi­o­let fil­ters. Ray­lab UV fil­ters are avail­able for a wide range of lens diam­e­ters. The Ray­Lab UV MC Slim Pro ultra­vi­o­let pro­tec­tive fil­ter is avail­able in diam­e­ters from 49 to 82 mm, has mul­ti-lay­er coat­ing and a thin frame. Anoth­er advan­tage of using UV fil­ters is that the front ele­ment of the lens is pro­tect­ed from snow and rain.

The UV fil­ter will elim­i­nate “haze” and pro­tect the lens from snow and mois­ture. Pho­to: fotosklad.ru


Anoth­er prob­lem in cold weath­er can be the rapid drain­ing of the bat­tery. Pre­pare two or three spare bat­ter­ies in advance and, as we said above, keep them under your out­er­wear while shoot­ing. If you don’t want to spend mon­ey on your orig­i­nal bat­ter­ies, Ray­lab has a wide range of replace­ment bat­ter­ies for all major makes and types of cam­eras: Sony and Pana­son­ic mir­ror­less cam­eras, Canon and Nikon DSLRs, and more.


If you decide to take a tri­pod with you, there are a few things to con­sid­er. In the cold, tripods have the unfor­tu­nate fea­ture of get­ting VERY cold. In the worst case, your hands will sim­ply stick to the met­al part of the tri­pod, like in the famous chil­dren’s hor­ror sto­ry (based on real events) about swings and tongues.

Ray­lab Pro 65 alu­minum tri­pod with foot pad to hold on in cold weath­er. Pho­to: fotosklad.ru

There­fore, you will need spe­cial pads on the legs, which will pro­tect both the tri­pod itself and your hands. In some mod­els, such over­lays are already avail­able. It is also handy if the tri­pod has a plas­tic car­ry­ing han­dle, like the Ray­lab Trav­el 63. Car­bon tripods can be used as an alter­na­tive, but they are sig­nif­i­cant­ly more expen­sive than alu­minum tripods. If you sud­den­ly decide to shoot on ice, then Man­frot­to and a num­ber of oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers have spe­cial suc­tion cup legs with spikes.

During shooting


Snow some­times tricks the expo­sure meter and can be one of the most dif­fi­cult sub­jects to get prop­er­ly exposed. A pic­ture can eas­i­ly be under­ex­posed, and some­times, on the con­trary, over­ex­posed and lose details. A gen­er­al rule of thumb is to expose for the bright­est parts of the scene and make sure the high­lights don’t turn into sol­id white.

If you’re shoot­ing in RAW, it’s best to under­ex­pose the frame a bit and then “pull out” the shad­ow detail in post-pro­cess­ing (where­as over­ex­posed high­lights will be very dif­fi­cult to recov­er).

If you’re shoot­ing direct­ly in JPEG (and don’t intend to process the pho­to), and the snow is too gray, you can try to slight­ly over­ex­pose the frame — the snow will be whiter. At the same time, make sure that the skin of the mod­el looks nat­ur­al.

white balance

Snow eas­i­ly “catch­es” shades from the sun and sur­round­ing objects, so try to make sure that it does not take on an unnat­ur­al col­or: the snow must be white, oth­er­wise change the white bal­ance.

On cloudy days, you can change the white bal­ance to “Cloudy” (Cloudy) to add “warmth” to pho­tos and min­i­mize the blue tint.

On over­cast days, set the white bal­ance to Cloudy. Pho­to: pixabay.com

On a sun­ny day, snow may appear a lit­tle “warmer” where the sun hits it and a lit­tle “cool­er” in the shade, but it should gen­er­al­ly remain white through­out the frame. When shoot­ing sun­rise or sun­set, the snow can also take on bright hues from the sky. Keep this in mind and look for har­mo­nious com­bi­na­tions with oth­er col­ors in the frame (for exam­ple, with the clothes of the mod­el).


Bokeh in win­ter is just as good, if not bet­ter, than in any oth­er sea­son (beau­ti­ful light and snowflakes!), so feel free to open your aper­ture, but watch your expo­sure.


The good news for “win­ter” pho­tog­ra­phers is that due to the low­er angle of inci­dence of the sun, the light qual­i­ty in win­ter is very good, and the shad­ows are long, which cre­ates an inter­est­ing effect. Study how the light falls on your mod­el and try to catch beau­ti­ful high­lights in the eyes.

In the sun, the snow sparkles and shim­mers, cre­at­ing a spe­cial fairy-tale atmos­phere. Have your mod­el toss snow into the air and use burst shoot­ing to cap­ture every detail. Also try to pho­to­graph the mod­el with the sun shin­ing on her from behind — this will enhance that mag­i­cal effect of the snow illu­mi­nat­ed by the sun.

The com­bi­na­tion of snow and sun is a real mag­i­cal com­bo for a pho­tog­ra­ph­er. Pho­to: pixabay.com

But cloudy days are also quite good: you will get soft dif­fused light, and the snow will work as a nat­ur­al reflec­tor, direct­ing addi­tion­al light­ing to the mod­el.

Mood and atmosphere

The atmos­phere of a win­ter por­trait is strong­ly “tied” to light­ing. When the sun is shin­ing, more ener­getic win­ter por­traits with smiles and laugh­ter are excel­lent, and in cloudy weath­er — more thought­ful and calm.

A win­ter pho­to shoot in the woods can be espe­cial­ly atmos­pher­ic — bright and cheer­ful when the sun shines through the trees, or mys­ti­cal and gloomy on a cloudy day.


The hues of the envi­ron­ment in win­ter can range from dull brown to daz­zling white. To cre­ate good “envi­ron­ment” por­traits, try to find places where you can use var­i­ous com­po­si­tion­al ele­ments — lead­ing lines from paths and build­ings, fram­ing (fram­ing) from trees, etc. Use the depth of the envi­ron­ment to add lay­ers and inter­est­ing details, that com­plete the por­trait.

Look for inter­est­ing com­po­si­tion­al solu­tions. Pho­to: pixabay.com

Tree branch­es and snow-cov­ered bush­es will cre­ate an extra dimen­sion and can be “rhymed” with the mod­el in the fore­ground. When it snows, the per­son can be placed against a dark­er back­ground, such as a for­est, to effec­tive­ly high­light both the mod­el and the sur­round­ing snow.

After shooting

If the cam­era gets wet while shoot­ing, bring it indoors and then wrap a dry tow­el around it. Leave it like that for a cou­ple of hours. If you try to wipe off snow or water, you risk push­ing mois­ture into the seams where the elec­tron­ic com­po­nents are. So just leave the cam­era in a tow­el to absorb mois­ture.

Some peo­ple advise plac­ing the cam­era and lens in a sealed plas­tic bag for a cou­ple of hours — this way the equip­ment will grad­u­al­ly warm up, and mois­ture will con­dense out­side the bag. To be hon­est, we did not use this rec­om­men­da­tion, but it sounds con­vinc­ing.

So, dress warm­ly, pro­tect your equip­ment from cold and mois­ture, and most impor­tant­ly — take great win­ter pic­tures!

* In prepar­ing the arti­cle, mate­ri­als from the resources clickitupanotch.com and bhphotovideo.com were used.


От Yara

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