Six Ways to Capture the Essence of Winter in your Landscape Images

Winter infuses hidden magic within a landscape scene. The visual drama of the summer and fall has been hushed under winter's soft blanket of snow. Quiet and stillness unfold before our eyes, and it's captivating in so many ways. The winter months offer incredible frozen beauty and often soft diffuse light. It's truly a spectacular season in which to venture out into your favourite landscapes. Below are a few tips on how you can embrace the winter season and capture its essence in the coming months.  

1. Embrace the weather

I love stunning light and colour, and I know you do too. Photographers crave pretty light that bursts into colour and takes your breath away, but the reality is those days can be few and far between during the winter months. Don't let a snowstorm or lack of colour disappoint you. Showcase other wintery elements, like diffuse light on a mountain peak or winter's artwork at your feet. There's beauty in all types of weather, so don't be afraid to look for something a little different during the winter. 

ISO 100, 16mm, f13, 1/40SS

2. Go immediately after a snowstorm

There's incredible beauty in untouched billows of freshly fallen snow. If it's safe and you're daring enough to brave less than ideal road conditions, it's well worth the effort to venture out into a landscape after a snow storm. You'll certainly be treated to a winter wonderland.

ISO 100, 22mm, f13, 3sec

3. Look for locations that are not frozen

Water is a beautiful element to incorporate within a landscape scene. However, here in the Canadian Rockies, most lakes' stunning glacial blue water freezes over with winter's arrival. If you are still drawn to the water element, look for inlets and outlets to lakes via rivers or streams or lakes with underground hot springs. Many of these types of waterways will remain open to some extent. With the likely lower water levels during this season, you'll be able to compose your images, in a way that is near impossible during the warmer months. Bring along a pair of waders with you and keep your feet dry and warm for those times you'll go wading into partly frozen streams.  

ISO200, 16mm, f9, 30sec 

4. Look for icy details

Nature's display of intricate icy artwork never ceases to amaze me. Be on the lookout for frosty displays of beauty and icy art during the winter months. Think about how you can compose your images to showcase this art. Try getting down low or angling your camera slightly downward to enhance icy details. Don't forget to think about how you can creatively infuse winter into your scenes through framing with icy details or using ice as leading lines. 

ISO 100, 16mm, f11, 30sec

5. Look for scenes with colour contrast

Colour is plentiful during the summer with lush green foliage, speckles of wildflowers across the valley and deep blue water bodies. Winter is predominantly white. When colour is absent, look for opportunities to infuse hits of colour. Of course, the gift of a pretty sunrise or sunset is always welcomed but think beyond that. The warm glow of a lake cabin or quaint hotel amidst a stormy night is an excellent opportunity to mix some colour into a wintery scene. 

ISO 400, 14mm, f9, 30sec

6. Embrace a neutral colour palate

A monochromatic colour palette can be captivating, so embrace this opportunity during the winter months. Hues of blue infuse a calming mood into an image. Use a long exposure to smooth out the water, enhancing the calm and still mood that is often inherent in a winter landscape scene. 

ISO 40, 16mm, f16, 30sec

The winter season is stunning. There's plenty of opportunities to capture variety during this beautiful time of year, as winter scenes can change dramatically from day-to-day. Embrace what is in front of you and look for unique opportunities to capture the essence of winter that only this season can bring. 

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