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Tips for Winter Outdoor Photography


There is something truly beautiful about winter. On a cold crisp day, especially if you can get up early enough in the morning, the snow covered landscape can look truly beautiful, with so much to offer the intrepid photographer. But as many new possibilities that winter offers, it also brings new challenges that you may not be prepared to face. Today, we thought we’d highlight some of the items you may want to be aware of for handling outdoor photography in this wonderful season! (Oh, and we’re going to have to talk about some science along the way!)


Batteries get cold too

Have you ever stopped to think about how your batteries store energy? If you’re like most of us, it’s not something you’ve given much thought to. “Batteries charge and hold power to be used later” is a simple enough thought that HOW  doesn’t really enter your mind all that often. Well, the science behind how your batteries store power is actually really important to this question. Batteries essentially consist of three parts, an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte between them. Electrical charge is transmitted from the anode, through the electrolyte to the cathode, where it’s then able to be transmitted out through the battery. This is all dependent upon a set of chemical processes in which the individual molecules of these components attract then release ions to generate the electric charge. As your battery cools down, these chemical processes also slow down. This means that your batteries will lose capacity. The exact numbers will differ depending on the precise temperature and the chemical makeup of your battery, but a rechargeable battery can lose as much as 50 percent of its capacity in below freezing temperatures. To deal with this issue, carry extra batteries and store them in an insulated container to ensure they’re kept at optimal temperature. If that’s not an option, stick them in a pocket that’s closest to your body (rather than on the outside of your coat) so your body temperature can help keep them warm. 


So does your screen

Along with your colder battery, the display screens of your camera is also going to be affected by lower temperatures. For many cameras, the display screen is going to be a LCD screen, which can be sluggish in colder temperatures. Be cautious with relying on your display screen in colder temperatures as it may be sluggish and not display your images clearly. In addition to your batteries and screens, another quick item to consider are your lenses. Any electronics on your camera are likely to be affected by extended time in the cold, and that will include an autofocus lens. Consider using a manual focus lens if you’re planning on an extended outdoor winter photo session. 


Distance gets closer

Photography is all about light, how it travels from the objects you’re photographing to the lens of your camera. Because of this, most of what you’ll learn to make you a better photographer involves how to you adjust or manipulate light in a given setting. When it comes to outdoor winter photography, one thing you may not realize is that the temperature affects the way light travels through the air. In warmer weather, you’ll see wider differences in pockets of air, from warm and cool spots that light travels through and gets refracted like a prism. (Hey look the name of our company!) In colder weather, the temperature differences in those pockets of air lessens, as everything is pulled down to colder degrees. This means that in colder weather, assuming other factors like clouds or precipitation aren’t an issue, light can travel further and more clearly. This means that on a cold day you can get more stunning and wider view photographs, making for excellent conditions for landscape photography. 


Snow is a tinted mirror

Winter in the greater Cincinnati area is a tempestuous time, with wild changes in weather that are often difficult to predict. Most days, winter is going to just mean cold and dirty outdoors that may seem less than appetizing for a hopeful photographer. But occasionally we do get those beautiful storybook snowy days, where several inches of delicate white powder cover the countryside, hills blankets in gorgeous hyperbola splendor. Before you start snapping away, it is important to stop and consider again how winter affects your lighting. You’re probably already cognizant of the fact that a smooth pristine snowfall essentially acts as a gigantic mirror, reflecting back sunlight and creating a sense of a doubled horizon, with almost as much light coming from the ground as from the sky. What you may not consider is that the light being reflected is likely to have a variety of color shades added to it. Ice of pure frozen water would reflect back a pure white sunlight, all shades of color reflected equally, but snowfall is never pure water, as snow collects a variety of particulates from the atmosphere and brings them down to earth in snowfall. Air pollution in particular has a dramatic effect on the chemical composition of the snow you see on the ground. This means that the shades reflected back by snow can include a variety of subtle differences you may not immediately notice. Stopping to carefully consider the makeup of the landscape can allow you to notice these differences and consider how you may want to incorporate them in your framing. 


We hope that’s given you a good start on considering how colder temperatures will affect your outdoor photos in the winter. Remember too to bundle up! Good photography requires patience and consideration, and you don’t want your fingers freezing while you’re out there! And when it comes to patience and consideration, Prism VR has it in spades. Our staff is knowledgeable and professional, and can provide you with a variety of great solutions to any professional photography needs you may have. Whether taking pictures for a real estate listing, or needing a virtual tour for your business, we have all the tools and training needed to deliver a superior project! Contact us today for your virtual tours, drone photography, and HDR photography needs!

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