7 Winter Landscape Photography Tips With Dan Carr

There are thousands of incredible vistas and landscapes in Whistler, each with their own personality, characteristics and challenges. When it come to photography, Dan Carr is one of the best there is. His work has been featured by Whistler Blackcomb, Red Bull and Oakley, and he’s been a competitor and a judge at the annual Arc’teryx Deep Winter Photo Challenge.
It’s safe to say Dan knows a thing or too, and as a photography educator it’s his natural instinct to share his knowledge – and today he’s opened up his mind to let us have a poke around inside.

Here are Dan Carr’s top 7 tips for shooting epic winter landscape photography:

1. Use A Tripod

Black Tusk and pink sky as seen from Harmony Bowl shortly after sunrise

Adding a tripod to your photography kit is the first thing you should do if you want to improve your landscape photography.  Not only will you get sharper images, but you’ll also be able to shoot with a much bigger depth of field, bringing the far off peaks into sharper focus.

2. Learn To Understand Your Camera’s Limitations

Joffre Lakes Frozen in December Near Whistler

As complex as modern cameras are, they don’t hold a candle to the human brain and ocular system.  Certain conditions can fool your camera into selecting incorrect exposure settings, and one of those situations happens to be bright white, snowy landscapes.  Your camera will often underexpose the photo, turning your bright whites grey and gloomy. By learning how to shoot in manual exposure mode, or using your camera’s exposure compensation function, you can overcome this deficiency and get the perfect exposure every time.

3. Look For Contrast

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Rolling, snowy white alpine bowls like we have in Whistler, can make great images if the light is right.  Avoid having the sun directly behind you though because this neutralizes all the shadows in the snow and makes the landscape look flat and uninteresting.  Keeping the sun off to your side will create contrast and reveal the textures and undulations of the snow, giving a much more three-dimensional feel to your photos.  Lighting conditions are further improved at the extremities of the day so try to keep the bulk of your shooting to the morning and late afternoon.

4. Think Before You Walk (or ski)!

A wave of snowy hills in the Whistler backcountry

If you want to capture a more idyllic looking scene then it’s best to make it seems as though nobody has ever been there.  As much as possible, we want to avoid having any footprints or ski tracks in the photos!  If you come across a beautiful scene that you want to photograph, approach it carefully, making sure you don’t put big prints or ski tracks right where you want to take the photo.

5. Ignore The Bigger Picture (sometimes)

Surface Hoar crystals on the snow surface in the sun

Landscapes can be big or small, and in fact some of the most fascinating ones are the macro landscapes that we usually miss.  Contrary to popular belief, you actually don’t need an expensive, dedicated macro lens to take close-up photos!  Extension tubes are a cheap accessory that can convert your existing lens into a macro lens for as little as $20.

6. Protect Your Camera

Surrounding yourself with beautiful landscapes is no good if your camera isn’t working.  The biggest issue is condensation forming on the camera and lens due to rapid temperature change.  Never keep your camera inside your winter jacket, always keep it in a backpack where it will remain at the ambient temperature.  If you have to bring it inside, to a restaurant for example, put the camera in a ziplock bag and let it acclimate slowly.  Most of the condensation will form on the bag and not the camera.

7. Prolong Your Shooting

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Improving your photography often comes down to practice.  The more you shoot, the more mistakes you’ll make and the quicker you’ll learn from them.  Camera batteries can get depleted much quicker in cold temperatures so you can prolong your shooting days by keeping your spare batteries close to your body, inside your jacket.  In extreme temperatures, grab a hair elastic and use it to attach readily available, oxygen activated hand warmers to your batteries.

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Dan is a full-time photographer and creative educator, currently living in Pemberton.  You can find more of his work and in-depth photography tutorials on his website, Shutter Muse.

He’ll also be teaching the upcoming photography courses at the new PCTIA registered, Whistler Adventure School.  The next 60 hour photography course starts on January the 27th and you can find out more information by contacting the school via their website.

 

 

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