Source: pixabay.com

It is best to shoot win­ter land­scapes in ear­ly spring, when frosts and thaws, snow­falls and rains alter­nate. We are prepar­ing the sled in the sum­mer and already now we are fig­ur­ing out how, what and at what set­tings you need to shoot.


Thaws and frosts form bizarre lay­ers of ice on the water. Amaz­ing ice pat­terns can be found even on the sur­faces of pud­dles. But you should pay atten­tion not only to ice-bound reser­voirs. Look for ici­cles on rooftops, down­spouts, and the edges of water­falls.

The weath­er is not a hin­drance: ice is a great object to work on both a cloudy day and in bright sun­light.

In the cold, you can exper­i­ment with soap bub­bles. Bub­bles freeze at tem­per­a­tures below minus sev­en degrees. Source: pixabay.com

The main thing is to under­stand what and why you are shoot­ing. Hav­ing set a spe­cif­ic goal, you will be able to decide on the nec­es­sary pho­to­graph­ic equip­ment.

A ded­i­cat­ed macro lens is, of course, the best choice. But any optics with a focal length from 50 to 180 mm is also not bad. If there are no such lens­es, then exten­sion rings are the best of inex­pen­sive solu­tions.

Tele­pho­to lens­es can also be used.

Always use a tri­pod when shoot­ing macro. Use the remote con­trol or self-timer to min­i­mize vibra­tion. Stop down (down to f/16) to increase depth of field and cal­cu­late hyper­fo­cal dis­tance. For bet­ter qual­i­ty, set the min­i­mum ISO val­ue. Hold the cam­era par­al­lel to the sub­ject to avoid out of focus field of view.


You don’t have to go out and shoot in the cold to take beau­ti­ful pho­tos of hoar­frost and icy pat­terns. But remem­ber that pat­terns do not form on dou­ble-glazed win­dows. Source: pixabay.com

On clear nights, the small­est drops of mois­ture freeze, cre­at­ing hoar­frost — a light fluffy cov­er of ice crys­tals. Frost is espe­cial­ly com­mon at ground lev­el, but on fog­gy days and cold nights it cov­ers trees that are bare in win­ter.

To cap­ture the frosty nature, you need to get up ear­ly. Oth­er­wise, you sim­ply will not have time to cap­ture the most spec­tac­u­lar shots. Although in severe frosts it can last all day.

White frost meter­ing results in under­ex­po­sure, so increase (by about 1 stop) expo­sure to get a nice white tone, but with­out blown out high­light detail in the image.


Trees or a sin­gle tree can form the basis of an expres­sive com­po­si­tion of a shot, so shoot options from dif­fer­ent angles and points using dif­fer­ent focal lengths of the lens.

If you use a wide-angle lens at a closed aper­ture, you can get beau­ti­ful sun stars. Source: pixabay.com

The graph­ic qual­i­ty of win­ter land­scapes is well empha­sized by the back­light, right down to the sil­hou­ette images. Find a com­pelling sto­ry­line and exper­i­ment with fram­ing.

Snow metering

It is advis­able to use a mea­sure­ment mode and a mea­sure­ment sys­tem that allows com­plete con­trol of the process. It is bet­ter to use man­u­al or AV (aper­ture pri­or­i­ty) mode and, more impor­tant­ly, spot or par­tial meter­ing instead of matrix or cen­ter-weight­ed, which can intro­duce a com­plete­ly unac­cept­able error in the required expo­sure.

Keep in mind that when spot meter­ing snow, the cam­era will tend to repro­duce this area as gray, so a cor­rec­tion must be applied to avoid under­ex­po­sure. Meter­ing on frontal­ly lit snow always has a shift of about two steps towards the shad­ows. There­fore, you need to increase the expo­sure by two steps, eval­u­at­ing the result from the his­togram.

With the aper­ture wide open, the sparkling snow cre­ates beau­ti­ful bokeh. Source: pixabay.com

If you expose the snow using spot or par­tial meter­ing and do not apply a cor­rec­tion, the snow will turn out dirty gray.

Raise the expo­sure by about two stops to get a white snow tone instead of a gray one.

Eval­u­ate the effect of the cor­rec­tion on the his­togram so that there is no over­ex­po­sure of the scene.

Until the snow melts

A mag­nif­i­cent sight — a snow-cov­ered plain sparkling in the sun. But in a pho­to­graph, it can turn into an inex­pres­sive white cov­er of the land­scape. There­fore, the right light is extreme­ly impor­tant for a suc­cess­ful land­scape shot. Low and side light­ing most advan­ta­geous­ly con­vey the tex­ture of the sur­face and the expres­sive fea­tures of the land­scape. But effec­tive fram­ing is just as impor­tant. For exam­ple, foot­prints in the snow can become the com­po­si­tion­al basis of the frame, empha­siz­ing the scale and con­vey­ing the depth of space.

Falling snow itself can become a sub­ject of shoot­ing. Source: pixabay.com

To avoid smear­ing the falling snow, you will have to set your shut­ter speed to no faster than 1/500 s. A rel­a­tive­ly slow shut­ter speed — 1/15 s — will allow you to get the rapid dynam­ics of the lines, cre­at­ing the desired effect. Flut­ter­ing snowflakes will stand out bet­ter if they are shot against a dark back­ground.

How to enhance the feeling of cold in the picture

Spe­cial image pro­cess­ing and the cor­rect print­ing method will give the image a cool­er tone. This is facil­i­tat­ed by a slight excess of blue tone, which in the tra­di­tion­al tech­nique was achieved using light fil­ters. In dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy, a sim­i­lar result when shoot­ing in win­ter can be obtained by man­u­al­ly shift­ing the white bal­ance to 3000 degrees Kelvin (dark blue) and up to 5000 (pale blue).

When shoot­ing in RAW for­mat, you can get the desired effect by con­vert­ing to TIFF for­mat and select­ing the desired col­or tem­per­a­ture val­ue. Anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty is dig­i­tal ton­ing of the image. In Pho­to­shop, you must first use the Desat­u­rate option to desat­u­rate the image (Adjust Hue / Sat­u­ra­tion), then acti­vate the Col­orize option and select the Hue and Sat­u­ra­tion val­ues ​​\u200b\u200bfor the desired effect.