Please note: Using a website translator will disrupt the functionality of our website in some cases. Information (e.g. prices) may be displaying incorrectly.

Frozen shutter: A winter photography guide

Words by MyFUJIFILM

March 20, 2024

 | 

3m

Share
Frozen shutter: A winter photography guide
Whether you’re an enthusiastic photography hobbyist or simply enjoy capturing family memories, winter can be a wonderful time to get your camera out. Not only can you create images showcasing crisp frost and bare trees, but it’s also a time of seasonal joy. From images of your little one’s first Christmas to vibrant New Year’s Eve fireworks, winter brings a treasure trove of memories to immortalise in photo form.

However, winter also brings its fair share of photography challenges — with chilly fingertips being just the start. Knowing some key winter photography tips will help you get the most out of your snow-dusted images. Read on to discover how to harness winter lighting, navigate snow photography, and display your beautiful images at home.
Which camera settings are best for winter photography?
To start, let’s focus on your camera settings. If you’re using a mirrorless camera, like one of the FUJIFILM X Series or GFX Cameras, winter can be the perfect time to try out the high dynamic range (HDR) setting if your model has one. 

At other times of the year, this setting can create vibrant colour contrasts. During winter, when there tend to be lower light settings, images can look washed out, with a lack of colour depth. By trying HDR, you can reinstate your winter photos with a nuanced colour profile.

Why not then showcase your stunning winter landscapes, group photos or festive selfies with a Premium Photo Canvas?
Which aperture and shutter speed should I use for snowy winter photos?
If you’re lucky enough to be taking photos in a snowy winter wonderland, you might be wondering what shutter speed and aperture to use. These can seem like complicated elements but once you get experimenting, you can create some fantastic effects.
Aperture
image
Photography is all about capturing the beauty of a moment, and understanding aperture plays a big part in this. Aperture refers to the opening in a camera lens — this is where light passes through to the camera body. It's like the eye of your camera, and adjusting its size (measured in f-stops) controls the amount of light that reaches the camera's sensor.  - A larger aperture (smaller f-stop number) lets in more light, which is ideal for low-light conditions.  - A smaller aperture (larger f-stop number) on the other hand, allows less light in. This makes it perfect for very bright conditions.
Shutter speed
When it comes to snow photography, the combination of shutter speed and aperture can create magical effects. Using a slow shutter speed, like 1/15 second, gives a sense of motion, blurring a blizzard or smoothing out gently falling snowflakes. 

On the other hand, a fast shutter speed, such as 1/250 second, can freeze the snowflakes in mid-air, capturing their unique and delicate shapes in stunning detail.

Ultimately, there’s no set rule. The best aperture setting depends on the lighting and the effect you want to create. Taking photos in bright snow conditions? Then a smaller aperture (like f/16) helps manage the light and get a sharp, clear image. 

On gloomier days, a larger aperture (like f/2.8) will allow more light in, brightening your photo. Remember, photography is as much an art as it is a science, so feel free to experiment and find what settings work best for your winter scene!
Top tips for winter portraits
Whether it’s a romantic selfie with your favourite person or you’re snapping your children playing in the snow, winter provides a unique chance to take magical portraits. 
Alfresco winter portraits
If you’re taking outdoor photos, it’s important to note that winter light tends to be softer and more diffused. As a result, you can create flattering close-ups without harsh shadows. 

It’s also helpful to be aware of your white balance settings. Snow and frost can often trick a camera’s auto white balance, resulting in photos with a blue tint. By manually adjusting the white balance, you can create images that show the crisp white snow in all its winter glory. 

As well as making lovely images to print on kitchenware, wall art, and calendars, you could use your winter portraits for next year’s Christmas cards. After all, there’s nothing wrong with getting organised early!
Cosy indoor portraits
What about winter photos indoors? In the run-up to Christmas, you might be surrounded by warm twinkling lights — and perhaps a roaring fire. Is there anything more magical than seeing your excited child open their Christmas stocking fillers? Or the look on your loved one’s face as they unwrap that special gift?

Candles, fairy lights, and sparkling Christmas tree decorations can add a festive atmosphere to any room. But they can also be tricky to photograph. If you want to create winter photos that aren’t full of smudged points of light, try using a tripod to keep your camera super-still. 

Keeping your ISO low is also helpful — ISO measures your camera’s light sensitivity. A low ISO of 100 or 200, creates a clear image with minimal grain. You’ll be able to highlight the lights' soft glow against a darker background effectively.

Play around with having your soft lights in the background, keeping the focus on your subject in the foreground. And don’t forget to turn your flash off!
How to take captivating wildlife photos in winter
Do you enjoy getting out and about for winter walks? With fewer leaves on the trees, it can be a great opportunity to spot birds and other wildlife you might not see at other times of the year — and these can make fantastic photos. Alternatively, what could be more heartwarming than seeing your dog frolic in the snow or your cat snuggled up near the fireplace?

How can you get the most out of your winter animal photos? If you’re searching for wildlife, it can be helpful to take your camera out in the snow — that way you can spot footprints and tracks.
Try taking photos from a low level
As for taking the photos themselves, why not try and get your camera level low? From a low angle, you can see the world as your subject sees it and create some stunning dynamics. This goes for both wildlife and pets — both of which can make lovely subjects for Photo Wall Art and even snug Personalised Photo Cushions. 

Photo gifts

From candid shots, to mundane documentation.

Find out more
Use a telephoto lens
If you’re using a mirrorless camera, a telephoto lens can help you capture subjects in the distance — perfect for birds, deer, and even a snowy white mountain hare if you’re lucky!
Be patient but quick
Whether it’s an exotic creature in far-off mountains or a fox in your garden, photographing animals isn’t always easy. It’s important to be prepared to wait for wildlife to come into your camera’s viewfinder. So wrap up warm, pour a mug of tea, and get comfy. And once the animal does appear, it’s vital to snap that photo quickly — chances are they won’t wait around!
Handy equipment for winter photography
No matter what kind of winter photos you’re hoping to achieve — cosy indoor scenes or epic snow-covered landscapes — there are a few tools that can elevate your winter photography.
Tripod
Stability is key, whether you’re photographing a family portrait or woodland critters. A tripod can ensure you get the image composition you want and minimises the risk of blurring. 
Warm clothes
In the UK, we may not be blessed with blankets of snow but it can still get cold. If you’re taking your camera outside, keep cosy with warm layers. It can be particularly helpful to wear gloves — numb fingers won’t give you the dexterity to get that perfect snap. You can even get special winter photography gloves with touchscreen pads so you can choose all your settings without getting cold hands.
Spare batteries
Did you know that camera batteries can run down more quickly in colder weather? Keep this in mind when taking your winter photos. Packing a spare camera battery can help eliminate the risk of losing power at a crucial moment.
Showcase your winter photos with MyFujifilm
Summer photos are great, but winter brings a whole host of unique photography opportunities. From the magic of Christmas morning to crisp frosty landscapes, the colder months are filled with special moments to capture and share. 

Winter photos make the perfect Personalised Calendar pages, giving you the chance to look back on previous frozen adventures as you plan upcoming holidays. They can also make thoughtful gifts for loved ones — from Custom Photo Mugs that are sure to warm the hands and the heart to Personalised Wrapping Paper for your Secret Santa gift. So share the joy of the chilly season this winter and beyond. 

Explore photo books, gifts and wall art with MyFujifilm.