In My Heart

Winter photography tips

Winter photography

With winter photography there are some points to remember that are not necessary with summer photography. Some people, especially professional photographers, will go to great lenghts to get this or that shot. Preparation is always important for the pros.

Here we'll share with you some general tips that might be useful for your Lapland winter photography. The pros already know what to do.

Winter photography in Lapland gives you some photographic challenges that you don't have at warmer latitudes. I'm thinking of cold and the lighting conditions. Northern light photography certainly belongs to the latter.


If you want to try some winter photography, my guess is that you'll pretty soon find out that you should have dressed properly. If you plan to stay outside in the cold for some time, it is important to dress in thin layers. The fabrics must take moisture away from your the body. If you can avoid it, don't use any cotton at all.

When you use layers, you can just have a few layers on when you are moving, because the moving itself will keep you warm. You can add more layers when you are for instance waiting for good light. If you buy the clothes in Lapland or in Scandinavian sports wear shops, they will be able to give you good advice as to the best clothing for winter conditions. There are several brands to choose between.

Good clothes are important when shooting in the cold for prolonged time.
  • Winter gloves with good insulation is a must.
  • The same goes for jackets.
  • Protect your head and ears with a winter cap (fur caps)
  • Winter shoes

    Cameras in the cold

    Preventing batteries from loosing power in cold weather is important. The cold gives the camera an extra challenge in producing the pictures you want.Read these tips to get the most out of the camera in cold conditions.

    Camera support

    In winter you will often take pictures in the twilight. Under such light conditions it is very important to find some ways to keep your camera steady. Read more about simple ways to keep your camera steady.

    Northern lights photography

    There are many myths and beliefs connected with northern lights. And has a factual way of seeing it. Anyway the northen light - or the aurora borealis - is among the most awesome light phenomenon you may ever see.

    The reknowned British aurora photographer, Patricia McCowern, living in Swedish Lapland, says that "Sometimes the displays are so overwhelming, so energetic, and so colourful that it defies one to capture even a part of it on film. On those occasions I simply lie on my back in the snow and watch in awe and enjoy 'Natures Light Show'". Read more about the northern light or aurora borealis and about northern light photography.


    Sometimes the lighting conditions give you more of a challenge (as in wilderness photography). The automatic settings may not produce an optimal photograph. This is because the sensors cannot tackle the entire range of contrast that the human eye can see. Wilderness photography entails a big range of contrast.

    Good times to shoot landscape pictures are the couple of hours after sunrise in the morning and a couple of hours before sunset until it gets dark.

    If you shoot in the middle of the day, normally you shouldn't include the sky in your shots.

    Correct Exposure Is Important

    in wilderness photography, too. Sometimes we think that our camera knows what to do every time. But this is not true - even if it does most of the time.

    If you check your camera, you may find that you can choose between center weighting, spot metering or weighted average. But none of the three metering systems can guarantee a perfect result every time.

    Sometimes a landscape image that includes a lot of snow looks grey when downloaded it to the computer. This is a good example of why it is necessary to understand how the camera meter reads a scene and why we cannot always trust the automatic metering and the auto-exposure.

    To avoid underexposure with snow you can use the exposure compensation feature of your camera. With a digital camera you can simply check the histogram to make sure the highlights do not blow out. The more you experiment, the more you get used used to this feature.

    A good rule may be to compensate 1-2 steps to avoid underexposed pictures. Study your camera manual to learn how to compensate on your camera. With my Canon EOS 400D I do the compensation this way:
  • Hold down the Av-button (near the upper right corner of the screen).
  • With the Av-button down you turn the command adjustment wheel (behind the shutter button) to the left to get a lighter picture.

    NB! Remember to adjust it back to normal after shooting, because it doesn't take it back to normal automatically after turning off the camera.

    Read also these tips that will help you with your winter photography - i.e. how to ensure a working camera in tough and cold conditions.

    Take a look at Lapland photos and other Scandinavian photos at our sister site.

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