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By Michèle Grenier

January 13th, 2021

People like me who love the heat of summer are often upset when the cold season starts looming on the horizon. What can you do about it? Here are four tips for taking winter pictures without freezing!

Event at the Quebec Winter Carnival in January 2018
Michèle Grenier
1/1250s  |  f/1.8  |  ISO 80
Nikon D750 + Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G

Get Layered Up (more than just enough!)

I will always remember that day of October 13th, 2019 (it wasn't even officially winter yet, think about it!) It must have been 7 degrees... 10 at most. I was going to spend six hours outside to cover a sporting event. How did I dress up? More than just enough! Coat, boots and mittens, hat, scarf, the whole deal. It was the first time of the year that I took out my winter "gear"... and I'll always pat myself on the back for doing so at the risk of sounding crazy.

If you plan to be outdoors taking winter pictures for extended periods of time, wear several layers to be prepared for any eventuality. It's easy to remove a layer during the day if the temperature rises. It may not be sexy, but it's better than regretting that you didn't wear enough!

The body area that starts freezing first when photographing in winter is the hands. Make sure you have good, insulated and functional mittens (my little trick: I wear two pairs!)

Outdoor sports challenge, November 2019
Michèle Grenier
1/500s  |  f/1.8  |  ISO 4000
Sony a9 + Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM

Get Moving

Instead of "picketing" in front of your subject, walking or stomping is a simple - and effective - way to heat up your feet and get blood flowing through your arms and legs. Space and time allowing, climbing a snow mound, jumping up and down, or even some light jogging will prevent you from turning into a block of ice while taking winter pictures.

Commercial Photo Shoot, January 2019
Michèle Grenier
1/500s  |  f/3.5  |  ISO 160
Nikon D750 + Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G

Protect your equipment

Winter weather challenges the performance of our photography equipment. To avoid getting water droplets from snowflakes on the lens, be sure to use a lens hood.

The cold also has a significant impact on battery life. Have a spare battery (or several) for your camera and keep it warm in the inside pockets of your winter coat.

Personal project, March 2018
Michèle Grenier
1/800s  |  f/3.5  |  ISO 320
Nikon D750 + Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G

It's possible to have fun outdoors in winter!

Photographing great winter pictures can be very challenging at all levels of experience, I'll grant you that. Still, few countries in the world can boast four seasons each year. Each season brings unique landscapes, lights and moods. It's up to us to get out there and get dressed up to enjoy the best that the cold season has to offer to us photographers!

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