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Winter Photography Tips

Photography Tips Winter

Polar Bears

The weather outside is frightful for photography it is quite delightful.

Let it Snow!!! Let it Snow!!! Let it Snow!!!

Winter photography can be challenging but it is worth the effort. Here are some tips to improve your winter photography.

Don’t Exposure Camera equipment to Extreme Temperature Changes. Condensation is a major problem for camera equipment. Electronics and moisture don’t mix well. The good news is that the moisture will eventually evaporate if the equipment is allowed to warm up to room temperature, but it can take a long time.

I keep my camera in its bag before going indoors or outside. The bag insulates the gear a little from extreme temperature changes. When I return home I just leave my gear in the camera bag and make sure I don’t open the bag for at least one hour.

I also keep my car cold. It minimizes condensation. It also seems like less of a shock from going out of the warm vehicle to the cold. If you take off you gloves and coat, crank the heat,  you will find it tempting not to even get out of the car and take a picture.

Keep batteries warm. Your camera will work fine in very cold temperatures as long as it has functioning batteries. Batteries drain quicker with cold weather. When I do a winter shoot I often bring several sets of batteries which are charged daily. Certain types of batteries perform better than others in the cold. I keep extra batteries in a pocket inside my jacket where I can keep them warm. Sometimes I put a chemical hand warmer in that pocket also. I often rotate the batteries between my camera and my warm pocket.

Tripods: Avoid touching a cold tripod with you bare hands. Some people use tripod leg warmers to help with this problem. Several manufactures make tripod leg warmers. You can also use plumber’s pipe insulation for the tripod legs. For less than five bucks you can make your own tripod leg covers from foam pipe insulation and hockey tape (the best tape to use ’cause it can handle the cold). Be careful not to force your tripod into the snow. You can damage you tripod.

A Lens hood can help to prevent problems with snow on the front element of a lens from falling or blowing snow.

Hand Warmers are easy to use, they start warming the instant you open the package. You can keep some in your boots, gloves, and coast pockets.  I keep one stuffed in each glove or mitten, and this way my gloves are always warm when I put them back on.

Exposure:  don’t blow out the whites. The camera will want to make the snow a neutral gray color which is a problem. Learn to read the histogram and you will find exposing the snow properly is very easy.

Get out early. Winter landscape photography looks best with fresh snow on the branches. It is best to be out there before it melts or gets blown off the branches.

Take extra precautions. Let other know of you travel plans in event of an emergency. Bring emergency supplies with you on your adventures.

You can add interest and color to snow shots simply by including a colorful object or two in your composition.

Fly to Florida. If you need a break from the cold you can’t beat Florida. It is warm and incredibly beautiful. The wildlife photography is incredible. Winter is the dry season in Florida. Since there is less water the wildlife concentrates into smaller areas which make it a wildlife photographer’s paradise.

Some of my favorite photo opportunities are during winter. Don’t let the cold keep you inside. Get out and enjoy.

How to Dress for Winter Outdoor Photography





Dress for the Cold. Proper dress is critical for outdoor winter photography. It will keep you warm, comfortable and dry. Winter weather can lead to frostbite and hypothermia.

The important thing to remember is to dress in layers. Layering simply means wearing a combination of clothes (in layers) to help regulate your temperature and keep you warm and dry. You can add or subtract layers to match the weather and activity. Once you have a layering plan, you can adjust your temperature control simply by removing or adding layers as needed.

There are essentially three layers to consider: base, mid, and outer. Each layer has a specific function. The base layer wicks moisture & perspiration away from your skin to keep you warm. The mid layer is for insulation and keeping you warm. The outer layer allows moisture to escape while blocking wind, and repel water.

The base layer is in contact with your skin. A tight fitting and wicking material is best to keep you warm and dry. Polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thermax, Thinsulate, and wool are all good choices Base layers come in various weights (lightweight, midweight and heavyweight). Select a weight based upon the outside temperature and your activity level. The lighter weight is better at wicking, the heavyweight has more insulation.

The Mid layer provides insulation. The insulating layer helps you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Common material for mid layers includes down, polyester, fleece, wool and synthetic/ natural blends. Many mid layer clothing has extras such as pit zips, long front zippers, adjustable cuffs and collars.

The outer layer blocks wind and allows moisture to escape. An outer shell is an important piece in bad weather, because if wind and water are allowed to penetrate to your inner layers, you begin to feel cold. Furthermore, without proper ventilation, perspiration can’t evaporate but instead condenses on the inside of your shell. Typical outer layers include shells made of Gore-Tex or a similar material. Extras such as pit zips, ankle zippers (for pants), and a variety of ventilation options are standard. Outer layers should also be tough enough to withstand tears and abrasions. Other less high tech options may include wind resistant materials, or water resistant fabrics. I personally like a coat that has pit zips and a hood.

Avoid cotton because it traps moisture, so it stays wet and draws heat from you. Anything that can dampen your clothes, such as perspiration, rain, or falling in the water, can cause cotton to start robbing you of heat fast.

Gloves are very important for winter photography. It is hard to shoot with cold hands. The cold temperatures can also damage them. I have tried several different methods to keep my hands comfortable. There are several options.

a.) Heavy gloves are too bulky to set camera controls. If I am not shooting that much I use this method and quickly take my hand out of the glove for adjusting controls.

b.) There are gloves which split and allow quick access to thumb and finger tips. The fingers simply can be opened up temporarily so you can operate the camera or gadget directly while keeping the rest of your hand warm.

c.) I like using glove liners with and without heavy gloves. Glove liners allow access to controls. They will keep you hands a little warmer. I can also use them with a heavier glove when I am not photographing.

Footware: Waterproof and insulated Hiking boots. Socks should be layered also.

Gaiters are an essential element of your gear for winter and spring backpacking. Many backpackers and hikers also use them year round. In the winter and spring, gaiters provide extra insulation for your lower legs, particularly if you are snowshoeing. During mud season, they are also essential for keeping your socks dry. If you do a lot of bushwacking, they also provide a lot of extra leg protection. Many people will also use them in drier seasons to keep rocks and sand from getting into their boots or trail shoes. Gaiters come in different lengths called high and low gaiters. High gaiters are used for snowshoeing and mountaineering and extend to just below your knees.

Lip Balm and Sunblock. Prevent your lips from cracking in the cold and protect your face from sunburn. The sun still project UV light in the winter even on cold days.

Sunglasses are very important.  The sun reflects a lot of glare of the snow even on cloudy days so protect you eyes.

Dress warm and you will be a lot more comfortable and safer which will lead to better photographs.

Presentations on Photography

Hello Everyone. I hope you are all doing well. Things have been very busy at Slonina Photography. I have been traveling across the United States leading photo workshops and tours. I also have been doing several presentations to various groups and conferences on photography. It is a lot of fun I love to teach new techniques and tips. You meet some very interesting people.

Here is a photo from last weekend.

Nature Photography Presentation

I love to lecture on photography and nature.


16 Ways your Cell Phone will help your Outdoor photography


Great Horned Owl with Chick

Great Horned Owl with Chick

It is incredible how much technology has changed in photography. Part of being a great photographer is keep up with new software and software for your computer. Photo gear is getting much better with the new Cameras and lenses constantly being introduced to the market.

I am totally amazed at how much my cell phone help my photography. Here is a list of 15 things that I use my cell phone for when I am on a trip

1.)  Weather: It is important to keep up to date on changes in the weather forecast. A cloudy vs sunny day today changes the gameplan. How about snow, rain, hurricanes etc?

2.)  Northern Light Forecasts

3.)  Fall Foliage Trackers

4.)   Tide Charts: Knowing the tides is critical for coastal photography

5.)  Wildlife Reports

6.)   Identification Apps: There a programs for indentifying birds, mammals, flowers, trees, tracks etc

7.)  Sun and Moon Rise and Set. My favorite programs for this are LightTrac, Sun Survey and Photographer’s Emphemeris.

8.)  Email and Texting

9.)  Social media: I can update or check on my Facebook, Linkin, or Twitter Page

10.)  Blog: I can update my blog from the road

11.)   Calendar

12.)   Alarm Clock

13.)   Gas Prices, Hotel Reviews, Kayak, Mapquest, AAA

14.)    Reading: Kindle, PDF, Office Documents

15.)    Flashlight: yes there is a app that allows your to use your phone as a flashlight

16.)  Packlists: don’t forget camera gear at home

I bet next year I will have even more uses for my cell phone. Good Luck

Black Bear Nap

Too much time on your paws.  Zzzzz Zzzzzzzzzzzz Zzzzzzzzz

Black Bear Sleeping

What Does A Bear use for an alarm clock?


Carter Shield Cabin: Smoky Mountains Photo Tour

Carter Shield is one of my favorite Cabins in the park.

Join us on a photo tour or workshop to the Smoky Mountain National Park.

Smoky Mountain National Park


Photo Tours and Workshops New England (1 Day)

Join us as we photograph several great locations throughout New England.

Currently we have 5 trips planned.

They will  come back with some great pictures and have fun.

Southern Maine Coast Photo Tour:  December 1, 2013

Photograph winter landscapes along the beautiful Maine Coast. The day will begin with sunrise shoot. We will photograph the dramatic rocky coastline, pounding surf, lighthouses, fishing harbors, lobster boats etc.

Mid Day we will take a well deserved break at a warm restaurant then back out to continue our photo adventure. We will conclude with sunset at Nubble Light which will be lit up with Holiday lights.

Plum Island MA-NH Coastline Photo Tour:   January 12, 2013

Join us on a photo tour as we photograph the Massachusetts and NH Coastline. We will visit several areas looking for local wildlife and beautiful landscapes. We will be out from sunrise to sunset with a mid day break for lunch.

The day will begin with sunrise shoot at Plum Island NWR. We will work our way to Salisbury Beach and head north along the 18 mile NH Coastline. I will also be looking for beautiful landscapes and winter wildlife like Bald Eagles, Seals, Snowy Owls, and anything else we come across.

Quabbin Reservoir (Massachusetts) Photo Tour: March 23, 2013

Located in central Massachusetts, It was built in the 1930′s to provide clean drinking water for the Boston region. Over 2500 people in the towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescottsections of seven other towns were forced to give up their homes in the Swift River Valleyto make this project possible.

Today, Quabbin is recognized as one of the largest drinking-water reservoirs in the world, a remarkable feat of engineering, an “accidental wilderness” that is home to an impressive variety of wildlife, and a wonderful place to explore winter landscapes. Join us as we hike into Quabbin Reservoir to experience the beauty of the wilderness and diversity of life and habitats.

Note: In the event of a snow storm this tour will be cancelled and participants will be issued a full refund.

NH and Southern Maine Coastline Photo Tour:   March 30, 2013

Join us on a photo tour as we photograph theMaineand New Hampshire Coastline. We will visit several areas looking for local wildlife and coastal landscapes. We will photograph from sunrise to sunset with a mid day break for lunch.

We will head north along the 18 mile NH Coastline and intoSouthern Maine. The dramatic rocky coastline, pounding surf, lighthouses, fishing harbors, lobster boats etc provides us with unlimited subjects to photograph. I will also be looking for winter wildlife like Bald Eagles, Seals, Snowy Owls, and any other wildlife we come across

Newport (Rhode Island) Photo Tour: May 4, 2013

This photo tour we will cover the beautiful hotspots of Newport, RI. We will photograph some of the many marinas, Fort Adams State Park, Newport Bridge, Goat Island, Ocean Drive, the Lighthouse, and many other Gems. This is a great time to visit Newportbefore the busy tourist season.

For more information please visit

River Reflections Smoky Mountain Photo Tour

The green color cast of the water was created by the trees on the far side of the river. The leaves were backlight by the late afternoon sun.  When I find sections of the river like this I mark down the time and location for future visits.

Smoky Mountain Green Reflection Water

Smoky Mountain Green Reflection Water

Smoky Mountain Photo Tour Fog

I love photographing in the fog. It adds mystery to any photo.

Smoky Mountain Photo Tour Workshop

Smoky Mountain Photo Tour Workshop

Smoky Mountain National Park

The Smokies has several incredibly photogenic rivers. For this photo I used a slower shutter speed to blur the water.

Smoky Mountain River

Smoky Mountain River

See the Light

See the Light

Light Matters

Join us on a photo workshop or tour. See the Light


Acadia National Park

Here is another picture from my Acadia National Park Photo Workshop


Acadia National Park Photo Tour

Acadia National Park


Acadia National Park Sunset

Acadia National Park Sunset

Acadia National Park Seawall Sunrise

Acadia Sunrise Seawall

Acadia Sunrise Seawall

Acadia National Park Rocks

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Seawall Beach Roses

Acadia National Park (Beach Roses) Seawall

Acadia National Park Pouring Rain

My June 2012 Acadia Trip Started out with a light drizzle then when we got away from the car it became pouring rain. This is not the way I wanted to start a photo tour. Fortunately we did a some nice photos.

Acadia Waterfall

Acadia Waterfall

Acadia National Park Sunrise

This photo was taken from Cadillac Mountain at Sunrise. It is hard to get up for sunrise in June but it is worth it.

Sunrise Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park Sunrise

Acadia National Park Photo Tour Sunrise

Acadia Sunrise Predawn Glow

Acadia Sunrise Predawn Glow

Predawn Glow Acadia National Park


Lillypad Reflection

Lillypad Reflection

Lillypad Reflection

Acadia Waterfall

The key to getting great waterfall pictures is timing. During the beginning of my Acadia Photo Tour it was raining hard so the next day we photographed a vernal waterfall. The next morning we went by the same waterfall and it was barely a trickle of water.

Photo Workshop Tip: 360 Degrees

Acadia Photo Tour

Cadillac Mountain Sunset

Here is a photo taken of Cadillac Mountain from my Acadia National Park Instructional Photo Tour.

Whenever you are photographing constantly look around 360 Degrees.

Sometimes you may be anticipanting a photo but the best shot is behind you.

Understanding Shutter Speed


This Osprey photo was taken at 1/1000 of a sec

Shutter speed is the amount of time a shutter is open. It is measure in seconds usually fractions of seconds.

Common shutter speeds include

1/2000, 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8. ¼, ½, 1 second, 2 seconds etc

Each one is approximately double the other.


When considering shutter speed consider whether your subject is moving. Do you want the subject to be blurred or sharply focused?

In most cases I hope to stop the motion. There are a few exceptions

a.) Water: If taking a photo of a waterfall and want to show how fast the water is flowing.

b.) If you want to see a feeling of speed like a running Elk or photos of stars where you are trying to show how the stars move over a longer period of time..

Here as some common shutter speeds and their applications.

  • 1/2000 s and 1/1000 s: Used to take sharp photographs of moderately fast subjects under normal lighting conditions. A good example  would be photographing birds in flight and moving subjects.     
  • 1/500 s and 1/250 s: Used to take sharp photographs of people in motion in everyday situations. 1/250 s is the fastest speed useful for panning. I use this shutter speeds for mammals and other wildlife that is not moving fast.
  • 1/125 s and 1/60: This speed, and slower ones, are no longer useful for freezing motion. I use this speed for subjects that are not moving.
  • 1/30 s: Used for panning subjects moving slower than 30 miles per hour and for available-light photography. Images taken at this and slower speeds normally require a tripod or other camera support to be sharp.
  • 1/15 s and 1/8 s: This and slower speeds are useful for  photographs other than panning shots where motion blur is employed for deliberate effect, or for taking sharp photographs of immobile subjects under bad lighting conditions with a tripod-supported camera. I like this shutter speed for waterfalls and moving water. This speed will blur the water and give it a cotton candy like effect. This speed requires a tripod.
  • 1/4 s, 1/2 s and 1 sec: Also mainly used for motion blur effects and/or low-light photography, but only practical with a tripod-supported camera.
  • B (bulb mode) (1 minute to several hours): Used with a mechanically fixed camera in night and astrophotography and for certain special effects.

If you are using a shutter speed slower than 1/60 of a second you will need additional camera or lens support like a tripod. Actually I recommend a tripod for almost every picture anyway.

Relationship with Aperture:

Remember as discussed in a earlier Blog post on Aperture.

Shutter speed and Aperture have an inverse relationship.

Faster shutter speed = less the depth of field.

Slower shutter speed = more depth of field

As you change shutter speed you may need to change the Aperture or ISO or both to compensate for it.

For example if you speed up your shutter speed one stop (for example from 1/125th to 1/250th) you’re effectively letting half as much light into your camera. To compensate for this you’ll probably need to increase your aperture one stop (for example from f16 to f11). The other alternative would be to choose a faster ISO rating (you might want to move from ISO 100 to ISO 400 for example).

Please consider joining us on a photo tour or workshop.