Winter Nightime Photography

We last talked about winter photography, now we can take it to my next subject, which is night winter photography. So, get out from under your sleeved Snuggie and turn off American Idol or Jersey Shore …yes … we know that someone is watching Snookie, the numbers don’t lie.

It’s cold and dark outside, but once again it is a beautiful, cool night under the light of the moon……great song! Winter nights are different because of the reflection of the moon on the snow. Even in the middle of the night, the other is enough light from the snow and moon to make it look almost like dusk. Remember to dress warm and in layers, maybe light gloves, hat and warm boots…….now I sound like your mother. Okay, the bottom line is to dress warm, there’s nothing worse than freezing your butt off while you are holding a piece steel in the middle of winter.

Bring a tripod and a cable release or be ready to use the self-timer. If you don’t have either, you can still shoot night pictures with the use of a steady hand or a handy tree. If you have a standard wide angle lens that is not a zoom, then it is probably the best lens to use. These lenses have a “faster” aperture, which means that it allows more light into the sensor, resulting in good low light photography. Your ISO should be set at 800 or higher, but remember that the higher the ISO the more “noise” that you get in the photo. The beauty of shooting winter photography at night is that the snow acts as a giant reflector and enables you to shoot even in the middle of the night. Its great to use street lights as your main light for dramatic effect. Now, take a good look around and normal every day subjects start to take on a more dramatic and interesting mood. It is never a bad thing to include your light source in the photo for more interest and contrast. The shutter speed will be set at 1/60 maybe 1/15 or even lower. The general rule is that anything under 1/125 is hard to handhold, therefore prop your camera against the nearest tree or anything that is stable: car, pole or wall. It is hard to keep the camera still when you are depressing the release button, therefore use a cable release or wireless release if you have it. If not, use the self timer to stabilize the camera and often you can set the self timer for 2 or 4 seconds, therefore you don’t have to wait the full 30secs that most cameras’ timers are set at.

Winter night photography can be a real “Zen” moment and every time that someone looks at that photo hanging on your wall, they will feel that same calmness that you experienced while shooting it. Who needs Yoga or meditation when we have a beautiful winter night? Now…..I think that Snookie just hit Vinny…..I gotta go, see ya!

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