How to be a Better Photographer

Here are photo tips for taking winter pictures. I hope you find them helpful.

Prep your camera (and yourself) for the cold
Brrr. Cold feet, cold hands, even cold teeth plague me this time of year, and often drive me indoors sooner than I would like. Even worse, the cold can disable your camera by draining its battery of power or interfering with its mechanical movements, like the shutter. I’ll let you decide how to prepare yourself for the cold and I’ll focus on prepping your camera.

There’s one exception – your hands. You can’t press a shutter button with warm gloves on. And cold, ungloved fingers fumble when you set camera controls. I suggest wearing mittens or gloves that feature the flip- down top half so your fingers can be free to do their nimble work, while the rest of your hand is protected. Alternatively, preset your camera to minimize the time your bare hands fumble with its controls in the cold; then at the time of picture taking, remove the glove or mitten from the hand used for picture taking, take the picture, and quickly return it to gloved warmth (or in my case mittens).

Charge your battery the night before going out, and take an extra battery just in case the cold saps yours of its power. Except when using your camera, keep it inside your coat for warmth for both the battery and the internal mechanisms which can slow down if cold thickens the lubricants. If it’s snowing heavily, consider protecting the camera from moisture by putting it in a plastic bag and cutting an opening in the bottom for the lens to poke through. If your camera has been in the cold for half an hour or longer, before going indoors place it in a plastic bag and seal it; then let it sit in indoor warmth for half an hour or more before removing it. That way moisture won’t form condensation on cold internal parts, play havoc with the electronics or condense inside the lens to create a possibly permanent mist effect. 

Find the details unique to winter
A statue swathed in snowy garments, a row of sunflower heads donning snowy caps, an old apple still clinging to the tree, an antique truck ornamented with bright patches of brilliant snow … such details abound. Search for them and exploit them.

For more photography tips, see page 88 in the Life in the Finger Lakes Holiday/Winter 2014 Issue, available on newsstands, or in digital format here.


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This article from the Holiday/Winter 2014 issue
Volume 14, Number 5


story and photos by Derek Doeffinger