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Winter photography mini tutorial

Greenspring Valley Winterscape
Greenspring Valley Winterscape
Robbie McLean-Bayline Studios

Winter is a great time to practice your photographic skills. With a little practice and patience, you can achieve some amazing results.

Each week, we will be tackling a different photographic subject, and offering advice on everything form basic camera settings, to composition, gear reviews, and more.

In this session, we are going to focus on some basics. Part 1 is all about caring for your equipment in a cold environment.

Winter Photography Mini Tutorial Part 1:

It is very important that you take care when bringing your camera out of a warm environment into a cold one, and returning it from a cold environment to a warm one.

Your camera much like you, needs to acclimate. By not taking the time to do this you could not only risk getting condensation on the lens which is more of a pain than anything, to getting water into the delicate inner workings of your camera. If you have ever spilled coffee or any type of liquid onto and into your laptop, enough said.

One of the best, quickest and most inexpensive ways to acclimate your camera is place it in a zip-lock plastic baggie and then bring it out of the camera case in the new environment. Wait a minute or two, unzip the bag and presto, no condensation and happy camera.

Winter Photography Mini Tutorial Part 2:

My snow is blue! Help!

How many times have you been presented with a beautiful snow covered landscape and you want to capture it with your camera?

You are all set up, you take the photo, and all looks great until you get home, and you realize. Hey, my snow is blue! What happened, and how do I fix it?

Well there are a couple of things to do. First off, is your White Balance setting tuned to auto? Don't know what White Balance is? Read your manual silly! White balance describes the color temperature that your camera sees. Your camera basically sees everything in 18% grey. White balance helps adjust it for different lighting conditions. You can find these settings in your menu.

Usually there is auto, sunny, shade, cloudy, tungsten, florescent, flash, custom and kelvin. The Kelvin Scale measures color temperature. Low end is cool or blue, high end is Red or hot. Daylight and sun is about 5200-5000 Kelvin. OK, want more on that, read the manual.

Setting a custom white balance will give you the best results. The second thing you can do is bump up your exposure compensation. Since your camera meters on the mid tones, it tends to under expose the snow, causing the blue cast. Every camera is different, so try + 1/3, +2/3 until the snow starts looking like its should.

Winter Photography Mini Tutorial Part 3:

Fill the frame with your subject.

I know it is pretty outside with the snow and stuff, but there are a lot of distracting elements. All the bare trees, sticks and twigs can really mess up a shot. If you have too many things pointing in every which direction, your eye will not know what it is supposed to look at. Get a bit tighter on your subject and have them a bit removed from the background. This way they will stand out and the background will be slightly blurred. Think depth of field. Also try different picture styles to get dramatic shots. On most consumer cameras, you will find picture styles right on the main knob, on the camera body. Try your black and white or monochrome setting and have fun getting dramatic landscape, architecture and candid shots.

Remember, to get the most out of your camera, read the manual, and participate in online forums and discussions. You will be amazed how much better you will become and how much more enjoyable your photographic experience will be.

Robbie McLean is an internationally recognized photojournalist, author and lifestyle photographer. He is the creative director for Baltimore based Bayline Studios Photography and Events, LLC.

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