BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/14/2005

Taking Wintertime photographs

I live in the eastern US where we get somewhat dreary, cold winters. This time of year (before the pretty leaves take effect) everything is getting brown & dead looking, then winter comes & everything is a sea of snow & mud for the next 5 months. For those of you that encounter this type of environment, what do you have to take pictures of, aside from portraits of people indoors? I take my camera & go outside & everything around is brown. No color, no brightness, no excitement. I love to take pictures, but can't seem to stay enthused this time of year. Do I simply have no imagination?

To love this question, log in above
9/16/2005 1:08:31 PM

Michelle Ross
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/1/2004
  unfortunately you are not alone Kathy .. . it's that way in Kansas also . . . depressing really . .. I think that's what prompted me to explore portrait work . . . at least you can set up hay bales and round up people if need be. . .

To love this comment, log in above
9/16/2005 2:27:40 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
I too use to dread Eastern winters. Everything seemed be brown ("dead") and white. There was no color, no activity, life.

But winter can be a fun time!
Here are a few suggestions to help make your outdoor winter trips in the East more productive and enjoyable:

-Visit the nearby State and National Parks and photograph the resident wildlife.
As a rule, they are more active during the daylight hours in the winter months...(AND, the crowds and the misquitos are gone).
You can often have great success photographing wintering waterfowl and large mammals within a few hours drive of your home in the "dead" months of January and February.
Sunlight angles are much better in winter also so dramatic highlighting and back-light halos on your animal subjects are possible for more hours in winter than during the summer months.

-Among my favorite winter forays afield is photographing ice formations.
No two are identical and all can be interesting.
If you have a flowing stream or river nearby you can truly revel in this experience on a cold winter day.
This can be challenging work but quite rewarding.

-Another possibility is to set up a few bird feeders in your back yard and keep them full when the weather turns cold.
If you live near a wooded area you will have many daily visitors.
I like to set up natural props around my feeders and use a remote to fire my pre-set camera to get some great close-ups of wintering song birds while I sit inside my warm house watching the action from a nearby window.
This can be a fun and productive winter pastime.

-Of course, there's always studio work.
Winter can be the perfect time to get that image out of your head and onto film.
Every season, I have a number "winter projects" milling around in my twisted mind,...just waiting for a day when the weather gets real nasty. ;)

To love this comment, log in above
9/16/2005 5:58:13 PM

Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  hey bob,your actually asking people to go outside?great concept!pictures in the cold?thank you bob.

To love this comment, log in above
9/16/2005 6:45:51 PM

Kathy L. Pollick
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/14/2005
  Thanks Bob. Gives me something to look for.... however, as Sam points out... I have to physically go out IN the cold to do most of those. I'm a very fair weather person!!! LOL But I'll give it a shot.

To love this comment, log in above
9/19/2005 6:37:07 AM


BetterPhoto Member
  Here ya go. CAMERA METERS ARE STUPID! The camera assume what you are pointing at will be exposed as a neutral exposure (18% gray) and will render anything metered through your camera's meter as such. Test this, meter a white sheet of paper and expose to your meter's suggestions. Then do the same for a lump of coal. Both subjects will come out as gray. Your meter doesn't know that white is white and black is black. Now for the tough part. There is not enough room here for explanation. So go to your local library and check out a book by Ansel Adams (or purchase it to add it to your library as I did) and read chapter 4 on the Zone System. You sound like you want to know how to get around this problem and I gotta tell ya, there's no better way than from the man who studied and devised a means for doing so. Get the book. It is well worth the time.

To love this comment, log in above
9/27/2005 3:51:52 AM


BetterPhoto Member
  Duh. The name of that book by Ansel Adams is 'The Negative' from his basic photography series which include 'The Camera' and 'The Print'. Get the books, I urge you. I have had them for over a year and I cannot read them for fifteen minutes without looking at something in a new way or thinking about a photographic procedure differently. It will open your eyes.

To love this comment, log in above
9/27/2005 3:55:13 AM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/28/2002
  That would be a good time for trying out black and white photography ;)

To love this comment, log in above
9/27/2005 6:10:58 AM

Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  thanks chris.

To love this comment, log in above
9/27/2005 8:09:49 PM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.