Capture The Mood. Winter photographs tend to look either warm or cool. Early mornings and mid-afternoons are usually the best times to take "warm light" pictures. Warm light helps keeps the snow looking pure and white and livens up an otherwise endless landscape of white. Later in the day snow usually photographs with a slight blue cast because the light is "cooler." The afternoon winter sun sits low in the sky and by the afternoon will cast long shadows across the landscape. If used to your advantage, these shadows can add a sense of texture and interest to your pictures.
Avoid The Glare. One of the main challenges with photographing snow in the fact is the glare. The light meters on most cameras will struggle with all that shiny white light and read it as gray. If you're taking pictures with a point-and-shoot camera, switch to your "snow" mode. For DSLR type cameras try overexposing your shots by +1 or +2 if you have automatic exposure compensation.
Focus On Small Details. Look for snowy trees, twigs encased in ice, leaves frozen in a puddle, garden statues, or green plants peeking out from under the snow. Children, snowmen, and pets also make good subjects.
Set The Stage. If your garden seems to lack inspiration, placing pre-arranged objects outdoors overnight (e.g. fresh flower). Arrange them in an pleasing way and you'll have an interesting picture in the morning, if not in a couple of hours.
Fill The Frame. When shooting small details, focus the camera so that all attention is on the patterns and textures created by the subject. On point-and-shoot cameras, try using the macro or close-up setting. For DLSR type, a standard or short telephoto lens is usually enough to get in close. If you're concerned about optimum picture quality, a tripod can be useful for keeping the camera steady, especially if you're using slow film.
Cold weather can quickly drain your camera's batteries. Keep a spare set in your pocket where they will stay warm and change them out as necessary.
Cold lenses can develop a coat of condensation once you head back into warmer temperatures. To avoid this, place your camera inside a sealable plastic bag with a few packets of silica before going indoors. This way any condensation that forms on the bag will be absorbed by the silica gel. Once all traces of condensation are gone, you can take your equipment out of the bag.
Remember to keep yourself warm when venturing outdoors in cold weather. Wear lots of thin layers of clothing rather two or three thick layers, and don't forget our hat and mittens. If wearing thin gloves is necessary in order to work your camera's controls, consider packing some hand warmers in you coat pocket to keep your hands warm and toasty.
By Ellen Brown