The Outsider – Photography in Algoma

Winter Photography

Updated: By James Smedley

The first step to getting great winter shots is to actually get outside with our camera. This means dressing for the conditions so we are comfortable and can appreciate the dramatic changes that the descent of winter brings to the landscape.

One of the most important technical things to consider when photographing snowy landscapes is the predominance of white. The brightness of the snow tends to trick our camera into under exposing  winter scenes – and the bright picture we see through our view finder turns out dull and gray. We can address this by overexposing anywhere from  .3 to 1.7 f-stops. How much we over expose depends on the conditions but experimenting with exposure is key to capturing cool winter images.

Sometimes it’s simply a cold, clear, still morning that produces great conditions for photography. I popped out of my ice fishing shack to shoot this image of fellow anglers. The sharp angle of the early morning light helps to define the snow-drifted-surface of the lake.

Of course a bit of action on the landscape can add to an image.

Sometimes it’s simply the conditions caused by winter weather that can transform a scene from mundane to spectacular. March is the time of cold nights and warm days that can cause frost to cling to the trees.

And blue sky and fluffy white clouds never hurt.

Second-guessing our camera under exceptional conditions and fiddling with exposures to get the image we want is another theme we’ll explore at the Superior Woods and Waters Photography Workshop coming up in early June.


About James Smedley

Professional photographer and writer James Smedley’s contributions - more than 400 written pieces and close to 1,000 images - to U.S. and Canadian books, magazines and newspapers have earned him over 40 National and International awards. In addition to teaching photography workshops, James is Travel Editor at Ontario OUT OF DOORS Magazine. James has fly fished for brook trout and arctic grayling in far northern rivers and continues to cast for trout, bass and steelhead near his home in the northern Ontario town of Wawa where he lives with his wife Francine and daughters Islay and Lillian.

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