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Easy Photography Tips for Winter Landscapes

 
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Long-range views, snowy scenes, and gorgeous sunsets: Winter provides ample opportunity to capture beautiful photos and you don’t have to be an expert photographer or own a lot of expensive equipment to get the perfect shot. This week our Mast Store Photo Stylist, Heather, shares some helpful tips for shooting winter landscapes with your point-and-shoot camera or your cell phone too.

Shield your batteries from the cold. Cold weather zaps batteries in cameras and cell phones. Extreme cold also affects the camera’s zoom function. If you’re using your phone to take pictures, make sure it’s fully charged. Also, charge up your camera batteries and have a backup on hand. Don’t leave your camera exposed to the elements and cold weather for too long. Take your photos and quickly slip your camera back into its case or into a warm pocket against your body. If your battery starts to die, you can extend its charge by taking the battery out of your device and warming it up by rubbing it with your hands.

winter-photography-3.jpg“The best time of day to take pictures is what photographers call the golden hour,” shares Heather. “This is the period of time shortly after sunrise or before sunset when the light is softer compared to the middle of the day. On a clear day, full sun can blow out or overexpose your photos.” Can’t shoot early or late? Wait for a cloudy day. Surprisingly, landscape photographers prefer overcast weather for capturing the perfect shot. Heather says, “Clouds create the perfect natural filter for colors in all seasons, not just in the wintertime.”

Don’t be afraid to use your flash outdoors on a sunny day. If you don’t use your flash, subjects in the foreground may appear dark while a snowy landscape in the background is the brightest part of your picture. Some cameras and camera phones offer a snow mode feature, which will you capture the perfect wintry scene. If your device doesn’t have this mode, don’t be afraid to experiment with your flash outside so the focus of your photo isn’t left in the dark.  

Applying contrast will help the subject in your photo pop. In simplest terms, contrast is when you place two opposites next to each other. “For example,” suggests Heather, “Anything with vivid color makes for an interesting photo – from a red barn in a snowy field to shaded trees silhouetted against a blue sky.” For more information on how to create contrast, check out THIS helpful website.

rule-of-thirds-winter-photography-1.jpgIf you want to get more technical, there are 2 easy ways to perfect your photos. Correct your white balance and use the rule of thirds:

1 -    If your white balance isn’t adjusted, snowy scenes may create an inaccurate blue cast in your photos. The Digital Photography School explains it well: “At its simplest, the reason we adjust white balance is to get the colors in your images as accurate as possible. We don’t generally notice a difference in color because our eyes adjust automatically for it.” Your camera probably already has an Automatic White Balance (or AWB) function. If it doesn’t, you can help your camera balance the color spectrum by taking a photo of a white piece of paper before snapping your scene.

2 -    Take a look at THIS video for a quick and easy tutorial on how to use the rule of thirds. Most cameras and cell phones offer grid lines on your screen to make it easier to quickly compose a scene. Applying this technique will take your photos from amateur to professional quality in a snap.

winter-photography-5.jpgA useful tool for any photographer is the Gorillapod. This light and versatile camera tripod features over two dozen flexible leg joints that bend and rotate. The Gorillapod will firmly secure your compact digital camera or cell phone to virtually any surface. You can try it out for yourself in the Outdoor Department of most Mast Stores.

Another helpful tool for taking photos with your phone is the electric tip glove. Mountain Hardwear Men’s Powerstretch Stimulus Glove and The North Face Women’s Denali Thermal Glove are cozy, warm, and outfitted with touchscreen compatibility so you can snap away without ever having to expose your hands to the cold.

winter-photography-4.jpgFor cell phone photographers, Heather advises you to “make sure you have both hands on the phone to keep them stable for clearer picture.” She also recommends an excellent app for Droid and iPhone called Camera Awesome. “It offers more features than those already on your phone. You can experiment with more filters, grid lines, white balance, and video, too!”

Heather encourages you to, “Practice, practice, practice. The more photos you take with these tips in mind the more your end product will improve.”