Winter is not many people’s favourite season, but even so, it does have some advantages for an outdoor photographer. The light is low throughout the day, which is great for texture and shape in landscape photography. And if you like the idea of photographing at dawn but don’t like getting up early, then winter is perfect, as the sun rises at a much more civilised hour than it does in the summer!
One of the other great things that winter provides is frost. It’s worth keeping an eye on the weather forecast, so that if a frosty morning looks likely, you can be prepared and ready to get out there quickly before it all disappears.
So what should you take with you? A zoom lens or two with a wide range of focal lengths will mean you can capture anything from wide frosty landscapes, to distant details such as frosty leaves high on a tree. If you have a macro lens, then pack that too, as you’ll be able to look for lots of lovely frosty details. Even the most mundane subject can look totally different when it’s sparkling with ice.
A tripod will help you to ensure pinpoint focusing, and also to carefully evaluate your composition before pressing the shutter release. And a lens hood will help to protect your lens from flare if you’re photographing towards the sun.
Battery life is shorter in cold weather, so make sure you have at least one spare battery with you. Keeping the spare battery in an inside pocket means that the warmth of your body will help it last a little bit longer.
If there is a lot of frost, especially in sunlight, it may confuse your camera’s meter, so check the histogram regularly, and if necessary you may need to bracket half a stop or a stop over the camera’s suggested exposure.
It’s best to use natural light, and avoid flash. If the light is coming strongly from one side of your subject, you can use a reflector on the other side to bounce some light back in.
Unless it’s an unusually cold day, the frost won’t last long – so make the most of it while you can!