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For Photographers | Tips for better snowy winter photos

When you live in Alberta, it’s almost impossible to avoid shooting in the winter unless you decide to hibernate with the bears. Winter photography is trickier but it’s beauty cannot be denied. Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two through trial and error (a whole lot of error really) so I thought I’d share some of my hard learned lessons!

Prepare your subjects for being photographed in the cold. You’re probably thinking this is a bit silly, people know what winter is like, but when it comes to being out in the cold for an hour or two posing for photos, it’s a whole new world. Noses are going to run, toes are going to get cold, fingers are going to freeze. So before you shoot, make sure they have warm footwear. If they opt for something less practical, have toe warmers on hand to slip into their shoes. You can last a lot longer out there with warm toes. Have them dress in layers. Suggest longjohns under their clothes. I sometimes pack extra socks to share, hand and foot warmer packs and blankets to bundle up in for pictures. Suggest they bring coffee, hot chocolate, whiskey – something to warm them up!

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(both of these images were shot on the same day in -30C temperatures)

Shoot fast. When it’s cold out you don’t have the luxury of standing around chatting. You need to have a plan for posing and execute it quickly. You can get a huge variety of images in 15 minutes if you move fast and know what you are looking for and direct your subjects. You always have time for chat in the car. When possible I like to do multiple locations in the winter to get car breaks from the cold. I also suggest to take boots off in the car during the drive to let toes warm up more before the next location. When it’s cold out, you need to get down to business to get as much as you can before they fade out.

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(we moved quickly through locations for both of these sessions and took numerous breaks to warm up so we could keep shooting)

Shoot a lot. It might seem like overkill, but I shoot a few extra frames of each pose in the winter. Cold fingers don’t push the buttons as well as warm ones so you can miss focus more often. Your gear is a little more sluggish in the cold too so I over compensate with a few extra shots. Plus, if it’s snowing, those flakes wreak havoc with auto focus. You think you’re focused on your subject but the flakes 6 inches in front them grab focus and they are just a blur. Maybe ok for a few artsy shots, but not for the full set.

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(my fingers were literally freezing to the camera for both of these sessions because it was so cold so i took extra shots to ensure I got good focus)

Use a fast shutter speed. A fast shutter is going to freeze the action when it’s when it’s snowing so you don’t get trails of white lines. You get small crisp flakes. That’s ideal.

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(a higher ISO and a faster shutter speed was used for these images to freeze the snow)

Think about your background. If you want to capture snow falling and highlight it in your photo, you need to be shooting against a darker background. White on white really doesn’t show up that well. So shoot into green trees, a building, a mountain, something with contrast against the white so the flakes show up.

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(I tried to shoot against a few darker background elements to contrast the snow falling. Snow is only visible where there is contrast (or you choose to backlight it to separate)

Expect to fix white balance in post-production. Winter light can be cold. The snow and people tend to take on a blue cast, especially if shooting in the shade or on a cloudy day. Don’t be surprised if you are adjusting your white balance above 13k to bring back proper white balance.

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(both of these images needed considerable white balance adjustment to remove the blue cast of shooting in late afternoon winter light – over 13k)

Watch when you breathe. It sounds funny, but when you breathe can actually impact your images. It can work to add a fun foggy feel, but you can also totally haze over your subject with a big cloud of breath. Exhale super slowly so it’s only a tiny cloud of fog that could get in front of your lens.

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Embrace the beauty of winter!

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So there’s a few tips to help you shoot better snowy winter portraits. I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!

 

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Banff Engagement Photos | Vermilion Lakes

Toward the end of summer I met up with Marita & Tony for their Banff engagement photos. The couple had had travelled down from Ft McMurray to get photos surrounded by the mountains. We first met up near Sunshine Village, I loved this spot because I have a thing for dead and fallen trees (I know a little weird, but they look really cool!). This spot also gave us a cool backdrop for Tony’s bike, a sheer wall of rock! Afterwards we headed to Vermilion Lakes for photos on the dock and to get even more amazing mountain view for their Banff engagement photos. We tried to do more photos with the bike here too, but traffic got a little crazy unexpectedly! Here are some of my favourites from Marita & Tony’s Banff engagement photos! Go all the way to the end to check out her amazing engagement ring too!

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Are you newly engaged? Are you looking for Lake Louise or Banff Engagement Photos? ENV Photography would love to be the one to capture your love for an engagement photography session in Banff, Canmore or Lake Louise! Please get in touch for more information on weddings & engagement sessions in Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise & Emerald Lake! We love to photograph anywhere in the mountains and we love to travel to new mountain destinations including the United States! We also do family & maternity photos too!

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Weddings in Jasper |  Sawridge Inn & Maligne Lookout

I just love weddings in Jasper! I find myself at the Sawridge Inn a lot lately and I couldn’t be happier! Holly & Kent had their ceremony at Maligne Lookout… but it was raining so hard it was shifted into the new gazebo there with their guests gathering around to watch under umbrellas. After the ceremony we braved the rain and headed to toward Pyramid Island for photos. Later into the reception, we stole Holly & Kent away to do some late night portraits on the Athabasca River. Looking forward to more weddings in Jasper! Here’s the story of their Jasper Mountain wedding!

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Weddings in Jasper Vendors

Bride’s Hair: wild orchid salon and spa – jasper
Bride’s Make-up: wild orchid salon and spa
Bridesmaids Hair & Make-up: wild orchid salon and spa
Bride’s dress: Exquisite Fashions and Bridal – saskatoon
Bride’s shoes: aldo
Bride’s accessories (jewellery, garter, etc.): family pearl necklace, and earrings – bracelet Hillberg and Berk Saskatoon
Bridesmaid’s attire (dresses, shoes, jewellery, etc): each bought their own dresses from different shops
Groom’s attire: David’s Distinctive Mens apparel saskatoon
Groom’s accessories (cufflinks, tie, etc.) tie was bought in Saskatoon at Atch & Co Men’s wear, cufflinks were bought in jasper – i cant remember where sorry
Groomsmen’s attire: each wore a suit they already had
Florals/bouquets: Elysion florals jasper
Cake/Cupcakes: Cakes by Britney: Britney Graf – friend from saskatoon
Wedding Planner: ME (bride)
Ceremony Venue: Maligne Look out
Reception Venue: Sawridge Hotel
DJ/Band: Jasper Alpine Music
Transportation: Alpine Art
Linens/Decor: Sawridge Hotel and hand made

From the Bride & Groom

What were you most looking forward to on your wedding day? Holly: ceremony and trying not to cry which i failed at, Kent: seeing Holly in her dress for the first time
What ended up being your favourite moment(s) of the day (both answer)? Kent: seeing Holly for the first time in her wedding dress, and the party
Holly: Kent wiping tears off my face
What was the song you chose for the processional? Death Cab for Cutie: I will follow you into the dark – played acoustically on guitar by our friend Mike Kramm
What song did you choose for your first dance? Banners: Start a Riot
How did you choose your colour scheme/theme for the wedding? there were no colour or theme – just mix match of colours free and easy
Where are you going for your honeymoon? East Coast Canada Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI
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