As winter is definitely a magical season for shooting here are a few practical and technical tips about how photographing snow. First of all, in order to get some great photos of snow and mountain landscapes during the cold weather, you have to take great care about your camera and yourself.
Preparation to shooting in cold winter is essential. Always dress warmly and protect yourself from sunburn at the highest altitudes. Use fingerless gloves for shooting. They keep your hand warm while you have full control of your camera. Your camera can malfunction while taking photos in extreme cold temperatures (below -20ºC). So, check your camera’s manual for all the suggested precautions to take. Also, cold weather might inhibit the normal performance of the battery inside your camera and though the energy level shows hall full it can be dead completely just a few minutes later.
So, always remember to bring an additional battery with you. Also, there is risk of condensation can form on your lenses simply by moving your camera from cold to a warm environment (mountain hut for example).
Once inside a warm environment, I suggest to keep your camera inside your (closed) camera bag till the temperature’s difference stabilizes. Mount a UV or a protector filter to protect the front of your lens from condensation.
Remember that photographing snow can fool your camera meter into underexposing very easily. In order to get a correctly exposed photo you have to give between one and two stops more exposure at least. Usually, snow tends to give a bluer effect to your photos. Though you can warm up the effect by adjusting the white balance during the post production phase, you may think to turn blue the shadow areas in order to give the cold feeling to the photograph. If your photos are too blue just adjust the white balance setting to “cloudy”. Your image will look more dramatic if you try to photograph the mountains vertically and by using a telephoto. If you want to take a panoramic photo, use a mild telephoto zoom instead of a wide-angle also in order to give a more atmospheric impact by showing the various shadows through the mountain faces.
As weather changes quickly in the mountains try to shoot even if the peaks are enveloped by clouds. Fog or stormy clouds can add an atmospheric impact to your photo more than an image shot in a completely blue sky environment. The best moments to take great photos in the mountains are sunrise and sunset. If you are trekking in the mountains, try to spend a night in a mountain hut so that you can catch photos at sunrise or sunset when light makes the peaks glow orange or pink. You will realize then those are great moments emotively for every photographer!