How to Capture Stunning Winter Landscapes

Don’t let winter keep you away from doing what you love! Winter offers beautiful and unique opportunities for the landscape photographer. Snow-kissed mountain peaks, frost flowers, ice bubbles and more! It’s all stunning and begs to be photographed.  Here are a few ways you can capture stunning winter landscapes. 

1. Don’t shy away from the cold

Winter is cold. I get it. I live in a climate where 15 degrees Celsius is considered balmy enough for a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I know what it’s like to be cold most of the year. I’ve learnt to embrace the cold and become comfortable photographing in cold temperatures. The trick is dressing for the weather and layering. It is a lot of work, but it’s well worth the effort. Some of the most beautiful atmospheric elements come hand in hand with the cold. Clouds, fog and steam off feezing water are all prevalent during the winter season and can create stunning winter scenes. 

ISO 400, 80mm, f16, 1/60sec

2. Incorporate elements of ice 

Ice is pure magic and adds an incredible amount of visual interest within a landscape scene. Look for icy features and compose in a way that showcases what is frozen. Ice jams along the sides of lakes or ice chunks floating down a river are all beautiful winter elements. Think about how you can change your perspective to showcase aspects of ice. 

 

ISO 100, 25mm, f14, 1/4sec

3. Embrace the snow

Rain is very often an undesirable weather element when it comes to landscape photography. Snow, on the other hand, is a lot more manageable. Don’t let a snow flurry hold you back from your landscape photography. I always keep a rain sleeve tucked inside my backpack in case a winter storm pops up. Snowflakes infuse a wonderful whimsical feeling into a landscape, and it’s fun to capture this winter element in your images. 

 

ISO 100, 16mm, f10, 1/5sec

4. Use winter elements in your composition 

Look for unique composition opportunities in your winter landscapes that are not present during the warmer months. I love using cracks in ice as leading lines towards my subject. How about an ice cave formed from ice jams along the side of a lake? Can you frame your subject with ice? Are there frozen visual foreground elements that can be incorporated into your image, adding layers and unique foreground visual interest? Winter offers many different opportunities for unique composition, so be sure to embrace this. 

 

ISO 100, 22mm, f13, 15sec

5. Showcase elements only available during the winter

Take advantage of where winter’s taken hold. Waterfalls have likely turned to ice during the winter and can be fun to photograph without the need for an ND filter. Water levels are usually lower during the winter, and it’s easier to hop right into a river or reach locations that are usually covered by fast-flowing water. Take advantage of these opportunities winter provides. 

 

ISO 100, 16mm, f13, 0.8sec

Winter is magical. I adore the fresh dustings of snow and icy elements that add beautiful visual interest. Make sure you don't miss out on this stunning season! Pack your gear, layer up and go photograph the crisp beauty of winter!

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