1% of Every Sale Go To Environmental Non-profits


Your Cart is Empty

September 03, 2018

Cover photo by Simon Markhof.

The cool, blue tones, the crisp morning air, the sparkle of fresh snow. There’s no doubt about it. We love winter photography. And while we’ll never get over how awesome it is, we can admit that shooting in the winter provides its own unique set of challenges. Last year, we talked about how to improve your winter photography on the technical side and this year, we’ve got even more tips to help you get the best shot possible, even when the temperatures are plummeting. 

1. Care less about your settings and more about your composition

I would argue that improving your composition is the quickest way to improve your photography. We tend to shoot landscapes wide open and winter sports super tight and close, so here are my two cents on that…. switch it around!

Winter Photo of a man walking between trees

Photo by Simon Markhof

Winter landscapes: Keep it simple

Its the obvious shot to stand up and capture it all, with amazing views and a feeling of “this is awesome” it's hard to overcome the urge to just open the lens up wide and capture everything. I challenge you to resist that urge and focus on one element, it could be the snow blowing off the mountaintops (yep grab that 70-200mm and shoot at 200mm its fun!) or it could be a single tree against a mountain backdrop (enter #thatwanakatree)

Wanaka tree in a lake with birds at sunset

Photo by Carl van den Boom

Winter actions sports: Tell the story

No doubt that whatever sport you are doing in the winter, there is an amazing story to be told. If you are skiing then you are most likely on the edge of death and overlooking an incredible view (because you are extreme!), or perhaps your kids have hit their first jump on your ski holiday, or maybe that snowball fight turned real ugly and went from one innocent throw to full-on warfare. Point being, tell the story and stop cropping the hell out of it, you can´t see anything from a skier isolated in a blue sky so get down real low, add a foreground feature and some depth of field. Magic!

skier coming down the mountain


Tight vs. Wide
Photo by Carl van den Boom

2. Keep yourself and your gear warm

It *almost* goes without saying but because we like to err on the side of caution, we’ll say it again. Keeping yourself warm is the best way to set yourself up for success. You’ll never get the shot you want if you can’t stop shivering from the cold.

woman taking a photo in the snowPhoto: Nicki Antognini

Bring plenty of warm, non-cotton and insulating layers and of course, keep your fingers toasty warm with our photography gloves. We almost always wear merino baselayers like these underneath our mid and outer layers to keep warm.

Just like our clothing, we also layer our gloves to get the perfect level of comfort. If you’re not sure which glove is right for you, check out this blog post where we break down how to choose a glove right for you. When you’re dressing for the cold, you’ll want to consider two things. 1) Where are you going and how cold does it normally get and 2) What are you shooting? Will you be active, moving around, walking? Or are you going to be standing still? All of these factors play into how warm you’ll want to dress.

Once you’ve got yourself warm, you can focus on your gear. If you’ve shot in the winter before, you know all too well that camera batteries die significantly faster in cold weather. Our secret? We like to keep a few stashed in the innermost pocket of our jackets, close to the skin. When one gets too cold, swap it out. It’ll come back to life after warming up a bit.

3. Be patient:

Lighting is everything when it comes to snow photography and a cloud or burst of light can change the entire mood. All too often in winter, the masses of snow look dull and flat without any light being shed on them. If you’re not getting the right colour and light in your shot, wait it out a bit and be ready for that split second of light. It might be all you need for an epic photo. Have faith and the light gods will reward you for your enduring patience.

Frozen lake at sunset

Photo by Carl van den Boom


Set your ISO to auto and make sure you set a ceiling (it may also be called an ISO Maximum) to 6400 or less so your images don´t get overly grainy.

Use this for sports or other times when things are happening fast and as the photographer, you don´t have time to play with the settings. i.e skiing, running up and down the rugby/football field. This is a new one to me and oh damn it is a game changer!

snowboarder coming down the mountainPhoto by Lukas Riedl

The theory behind this is that you can set and forget the creative settings, we are talking about the depth of field (Aperture) and motion (shutter speed), then the camera adjusts the ISO in order to get your exposure correct. This has been amazing with my snowboard photography as the action is happening quickly and most of the time I don´t get a second chance for the shot.

5. Find a splash of color to add contrast to your shot

Snowboarder jumping over a snow plowPhoto by Todd Easterbrook

After a while, it’s easy to feel like your winter landscape photography is all starting to look the same. There’s little variation in the color scheme and wintry mood so if you’re feeling like your shot could use a bit of “umph” consider adding a pop of color to the frame. A bright red subject or pop of green will stand out and make your shot just a little bit unique.

  • There are many more great tips for winter photography like; 
  • Shoot to the right and get your winter colors popping. 
  • Care for your gear “bring a plastic sealable bag for your camera” 
  • Watch where you step in the snow 
  • Adjusting your winter white balance 
  • Shoot black and white 

And a few more which we cover in this article “7 tips for improving your winter photography”

We also go deep into ski and snowboard photography with this free 2-week email course: “The golden rules to ski and snowboard photography” so check that out and get set for your winter adventures.

BONUS TIP: Expose correctly and Learn how to read your histogram. 

I´m sure we cover this in other articles but I think its too good of a tip so ill repeat it.

You will usually hear things like “Expose for the highlights and shoot to the left.” What does that even mean? In short, it means to let your camera take its exposure reading for the brightest part of the image and then you need to keep an eye on your histogram so that it is weighted to the left.

We could go deeper into this and in fact, it may just become a new article. (Note to self; write tips on understanding the photographer's histogram.) With that said, this is a great tip for general landscape photography but winter and all the snow, whites and highlights in the image does a number on your cameras ability to read a correct exposure.

winter histogram in lightroom

So, we would argue that you should shoot to the right (yes that is the opposite to the normal rule). This way your snow and winter colors stay bright and white, not yellow and grey and if need be you can brighten the shadows in your image in post editing: Its important that you make sure you don´t crop off the highlights on the right of the histogram.

Ok, this definitely needs to be a complete article, watch this space for a histogram lesson. But in the meantime, set your camera so that you can at least see your histogram on the LCD screen and get used to reviewing your images with it.  

Header photo by Simon Markhof.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we will receive a small commission without any cost to you. We only ever recommend products that we have personally used and can stand behind.

Related Articles:

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Vallerret Articles

The Best Glove for Your Winter Holiday
The Best Gloves for Your Winter Holiday

November 27, 2023

It’s a question we get all the time: What is the best glove for my winter holiday? Whether you’re headed to the Arctic or Japan, we know how crucial it is to have the right gear dialed in before you hop on that plane. There’s nothing worse than investing in gear that doesn’t work for you. Finding a glove that works best for everyone can be tricky but we’ve learned some tips over the years to help you get the right glove for your winter holiday.
Read More
Black Friday at Vallerret: Deals are Out, Mother Nature is In
Black Friday at Vallerret: Deals are Out, Mother Nature is In

November 21, 2023 5 Comments

This Black Friday we are once again donating all profits from sales to The Norwegian Society for Conservation to help preserve one of the most iconic and recognizable photography locations on the planet: Lofoten. Visiting Lofoten is a dream for most photographers but this pristine location is at constant threat and the NSC is working to keep Lofoten wild. Read more to see how you can help.
Read More
The Ultimate Glove Gift Guide for Photographers 2023
The Ultimate Glove Gift Guide for Photographers 2023

October 27, 2023 2 Comments

It’s that time of the year. The fireplaces are roaring, the snow is falling and everyone is scrambling to find the perfect gift for their loved ones this year. As fellow photographers ourselves, we know how hard buying for a photographer can be. If you’re left confused by the technical jargon and tech specs of products you don’t understand then you’re in luck. Read on for our gift recommendations. 
Read More