There are reports across the country, this week, of snowstorms. Airports and roadways being shut down, just in time for the holidays. It seems like every year, right about this time, it starts to get cold and snowy. ;-)
Are you ready for the winter weather? This is a great time for photography. You'll find lots of interesting scenes for your camera. The snow covers the ground clutter and simplifies the scene. On clear days, the sky seems crisp and saturated with color.
You need to take care to cover your camera and lens when the snow is blowing. A common problem is the fogging of the lens from large temperature differences as you take the camera in and out of the weather. You should give yourself some extra time to for the camera's temperature to slowly equalize to the cold outside or the warmth of your home. If you wrap your camera in a clean towel and insert it into a plastic bag, you can reduce condensation while the camera's temperature is changing. When you're done for the day and the camera has warmed, dry everything. Your lens will be ruined if you get moisture inside.
With all the light reflecting off the snow, your camera's meter will react by reducing exposure to average out the scene. This will give you gray snow, instead of the white you're seeing. Adjust your camera by increasing the exposure 1-2 stops. On an SLR, you can do that in the menus. If you have a camera with scene settings, be sure to use the snow or beach setting. You want to keep your whites nice and clean. Yes, you can do some work in post-processing, but proper exposure is much better than punishing pixels in software.
This year, I've got a special trip planned to guarantee snow. I'm heading back to Alaska for the snow and, hopefully, clear skies filled with the northern lights. I've seen them many times, but I was in the field with the 6th Infantry Division. They had other plans for me, and they did not include running around with a camera. I'll also get a chance at photographing a newborn grandson. Guess I better take a flash with me...
There is one last thing to remember when you're out there in the cold: batteries hate cold weather. Make sure you keep a couple spares handy in your jacket. You don't want to be forced into quitting before you get all that goodness captured.
If you prepare now, you'll be ready when the first flakes start falling. Don't forget to try to shoot from some unconventional angles to make some interesting shots. It's more fun that way.