Some special considerations should be taken when conducting outdoor photography during the winter, especially if it is very cold or snowing.
COLD: Some camera instruction manuals warn against using your camera below a particular temperature. For example, the Olympus XA2’s manual has a diagram indicating that it shouldn’t be used at temperatures below 14 degrees fahrenheit. The XA2 is a small pocket camera with an electronic shutter. The instruction manual of the Weston WX-7, a larger camera with a traditional non-electronic shutter, indicates that it “may not always operate to full capacity” at temperatures under -6F. It advises warming the camera before using it in such temperatures. One way this could be accomplished is to place the camera near the foot heat vent (under the dashboard) in an automobile. Some camera manuals warn against placing the camera in direct sunlight, so this probably wouldn’t be a desirable method of keeping it warm. According to bythom.com, winter temperatures (32F or lower) can cause batteries to run out more quickly in digital cameras, but using Lithium batteries will reduce the severity of this problem.
SNOW: When photographing in snowy weather or other types of precipitation, make sure the lens doesn’t become wet, especially if it is windy. Consider using a clear filter (these can be screwed on to the end of the lens barrel on some cameras) so that the lens is protected from snowflakes (the clear filter is also easier to dry or clean than the lens itself). Keep in mind that the movement of snowflakes may cause them to appear as short white streaks on your photo if the shutter speed is set too low. This effect is unavoidable on some cameras with fixed shutter speeds. Using a waterproof camera may be preferable and safer if the snow is heavy or mixed with rain. A screw-on sunshade might also be somewhat helpful, but you probably shouldn’t use a regular camera in any more than light flurry-like snow.
FOGGING: Occasionally a camera’s lens and/or viewfinder will fog up when taken into an area with a different temperature, such as when it is taken indoors after being outside in the cold for a period of time. If this occurs, keep in mind that the lens may still be foggy after you wipe clear the viewfinder, and the fog may reappear if you wipe it off and set the camera’s timer to take a photograph. A clear screw-on filter might also be useful in this situation, as it is easier to wipe moisture off from than the camera’s lens.
SUBJECTS: Things you might photograph during the winter season include snow-covered mountains, decorated Christmas trees (indoor and outdoor), birds and squirrels at feeders, the ocean, sunsets and sunrises, and the view from ski lifts. Also consider photographing especially deep snow or objects covered in thick ice if you have an opportunity to do this.
Although winter may not offer as many photographic opportunities as the other seasons, keeping these tips in mind should help you keep taking good-quality photos throughout this season.