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Winter is back

12th December 2016

Winter has finally arrived in Ottawa and I’ve been taking that opportunity to go out and enjoy the new scenery.  This change in season requires a couple of changes in how to photograph.

For the most part, I keep the same method, with a few tweaks listed below:

  1. Battery Voltage – In the cold weather, batteries don’t keep their charge as well.  So, it is important to check out the battery level before you leave, or bring a spare with you.
  2. Plastic Bag – To reduce the fog on camera lenses, I’ve found that placing the camera in a plastic shopping bag while transporting it from a warm temperature to a cold one is quite successful.
  3. Over Exposure – Surprisingly, photographs look a bit better in the snow when they are slightly overexposed.  One would think that all the snow would lead us to underexpose, but it seems to be the opposite.

On of the things which I keep saying to myself that I will try to improve on is my shutter speed.  As shown in the image below, I had it set to 1/800s which produced a very sharp result.  It is usually a compromise where I put the shutter speed to 1/320 – 1/400 so that the ISO can be kept low.  But I think that I may start bumping up the ISO quite a bit higher since the quick shutter speed gives a much sharper image (and I’ll probably be able to deal with the increase image noise through post production).


…Running Extra…

In case you’ve not seen it, I found this great site which will show you the speed and location of a VIA train.  This has been quite helpful when trying to find out if if you just missed the train or not.


  • Steve Boyko
    Posted at 11:28 pm 2016-12-12
    Steve Boyko
    Reply Author

    Definitely over expose a bit in the snow. Keep in mind that your camera is trying to expose the snow to 18% gray so it will definitely underexpose the bright white snow to a dull gray. A little positive exposure compensation (or shoot in manual) will do wonders.

    I don’t worry too much about my camera going into the cold, but before you bring it out of the cold back into a warm area, definitely bag it somehow to keep the condensation out of the lens and internals of the camera. Usually I bring my camera bag out with me and let it get cold, then put the camera in the bag, zip it up and put the bag in the car and then back into my house. Leave it for a few hours to warm up and it should be fine. Pro tip: take your card out of the camera first so you don’t have to wait! 🙂

    • DaveM
      Posted at 7:26 am 2016-12-13
      Reply Author

      Hi Steve,

      I don’t worry to much about my camera in the cold anymore either after doing a long exposure for taking pictures of the milky way one. If the camera was good after spending a long time at -20c, it should be good for most things. 🙂