Five Things Not To Forget When Photographing In Winter

canoe walkway partly frozen
canoe walkway partly frozen

Take your camera along when going outside, a few dozen shots should always be possible, play around with settings, click again – we all know what to expect and what to do. Unless, of course, you decide (like I did) to take some wonderful winter photographs. Minus six outside, wind blowing with force 4, and it all felt a bit like the Arctic.

My little photo shooting session took place in Kiel, one of the canals having been my choice of location. There was not really any snow around, temperatures were below zero and the wind would have been lovely for a sailing tour – but not so on that specific morning. I don’t know what the wind chill factor for that morning had been, and I must say that I am used to (dry) cold outside. This, however, felt pretty bad.

Enough of that moaning and complaining. The pictures I have included in this post really are the best ones I took (and I am by far not happy with them), and the overall total was something like 95. How long had I been outside? Just over an hour.

What went wrong on that winter morning?

diving for food in icy waters
diving for food in icy waters

Looking back at it all, and this is no big surprise, it should have been obvious. It was winter. Nothing but a normal winter’s day. The basic understanding derived from that fact should have been that it is cold outside. But hey, we are experts here, what should stop us from taking excellent pictures also in winter? A couple of things…

duck on stone in icy water
duck on stone in icy water

Having prepared the camera in my well heated car, I did not manage to take a proper photo in the first five minutes as I was shivering and shaking heavily. Changing the settings was a pain with gloves on, and taking them off was a more than dumb idea. My desire for a steaming hot cup of tea increased by the minute. Walking around helped, but when walking I could not take pictures.

All in all I have made a couple of simple mistakes. In future I certainly will not forget my lessons learnt from that pretty cold winter morning:

  1. Don’t forget to put on the right clothes, and enough of them. You need at least one more layer than your skiing outfit (because you are not moving as much).
  2. Don’t forget that you will not be able to focus as steadily as in summer. It is cold, you will possibly shiver, so bring your tripod if you have the chance.
  3. Don’t forget to practise using your camera with gloves on (plus winter cap). Especially pressing all those tiny buttons can become a challenge when wearing your super-arctic-all-night-cosy gloves.
  4. Don’t forget to bring along a hot drink. Tea, coffee, soup, water, get some warming liquid into your stomach.
  5. Don’t forget handkerchiefs, and use them. You don’t really want to – by accident, of course – wipe your nose with your gloves and then go back to operating your camera…

When looking at this list something becomes obvious – the above is nothing but poor preparation, and because of that I have not even had a proper look at the most important item: the photographing in winter itself. What about different light, shadows, sun, settings, and so on? Next time out there, I guess.

What are your experiences with photographing in winter? Any specific hints or tips, or stories to tell?

Whatever you will be up to – have fun!

frozen lines behind some yachts
frozen lines behind some yachts
lines and yachts frozen
lines and yachts frozen

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