Top Tips for Beautiful Winter Photography in Queenstown, New Zealand
The Perfect Winter Snapshots
It's hard to deny that Queenstown is a photogenic kind of place. And when winter hits, our little alpine town turns on the magic that brings photographers flocking.
As we near the end of winter, and move towards spring, you'll find that the light, the landscapes and the vibrant mood of Queenstown lend the perfect backdrop to stunning photos.
But lets start with our top tips to capture all that is wonderful about our beautiful home town.
Queenstown in Winter
It’s no surprise that the Queenstown winter landscape brings out the budding photographer in all of us. Whether you are a complete novice or a professional photographer with thousands of followers on social media, Queenstown delivers the goods for those on the hunt for visual treats. Jagged mountain peaks stand sharply against blue skies, perfectly covered in a dusting of snow. Crisp winter mornings bring a covering of frost that turns the town into something straight out of Narnia.
If you're looking for winter photographic inspiration, you won’t have to go far to find an impressive viewpoint around Queenstown. But before you point the lens, there are a few things you’ll need to consider to ensure you capture great winter photography. To start with, winter photography is not as simple as it sounds Extreme conditions and contrasting colour palettes means a little more care may be needed when capturing those stunning sceneries.
Here are 7 tips for shooting in cold conditions.
1. Keep Your Batteries Warm - Digital Camera's & Phones
The biggest challenge for cold-weather photography is battery failure. Make sure you are fully charged up before heading out and expect the cold temperatures to sap battery power faster than normal conditions. This goes for phone camera's as well. Keep your spare batteries or phone warm by keeping them in your pocket or close to your body.
2. Keep your Camera Cold
While this is the opposite of point 1, there is a good reason. For digital camera's, if you bring your camera from a warm place directly out into the cold, you’ll find that the mirror can easily fog up. This can cause condensation which is something you don’t want anywhere near the electronic components of your camera. For extended periods in the snow or the really cold temperatures, or for repetitive photography shooting days, keeping your camera warm in your jacket is not a good idea either, as body heat can cause moisture in the camera.
When you’re done for the day, make sure you let your gear warm up slowly to avoid further condensation. Leave your camera gear to sit in your bag for a while before opening. This will give your gear a chance to warm up slowly to room temperature.
3. Use Manual Mode
If you’re in auto mode, your camera will read the bright snow and compensate accordingly, often resulting in dark images. The best way to overcome this is to switch to manual mode and adjust your settings as needed. If you don’t feel comfortable stepping out of auto mode, you can always press the shutter halfway to get a reading, then move the camera to what you want to capture. Most new digital phones today have an automated camera adjustment, with a few even having a 'winter / snow' shooting option so remember to adjust your settings accordingly.
4. Don’t be Afraid of the Flash
Feel free to use forced flash when taking shots of people in bright snow or sunlight. Most cameras will get confused in bright sunlight so using the flash will help bring out the details of a person’s face. For best results, make sure your subject is around 3-4 metres away.
5. Don’t Forget to Backup
Sometimes the excitement of being on holiday means we forget our admin tasks at the end of each day. Make sure you back up your images each day, as there is nothing more heartbreaking than losing a killer photo or a treasured family shot. There are plenty of ways to backup online making it easy to keep on top of thing while you’re travelling.
6. Watch for Yetis
Well, maybe not yetis but unidentified footprints in the snow can ruin a pristine winter shot. Make sure you don’t walk through a location you’re planning to photograph. maybe a little preplanning may be required
7. Step Away From the Viewfinder
Now this is a suggestion which we whole heartedly support....photos aren’t everything, so make sure you take in the experience with your own eyes rather than through the camera lens. Stop and look up from your viewfinder, iPhone or iPad and take it all in.
and, in a nutshell remember the following...
- The sun rises and falls much later and earlier in the day, so prepare for soft gradual lighting
- Look out for frost and snow covered structures as a foreground theme (helps with composition)
- During sunrise and sunset the sun will reflect on snow, so this is a great moment to grab a delicious photo
- Try using the sun as the 'primary' subject of your photo - it's much lower on the horizon during winter and often much softer so makes for a beautiful landscape photo
- and don't be scared of black and white photography - the contrasts are wicked this time of the year.
- Go above Queenstown's aversion layers for a great photo. Seriously, we often look out and see the mountains shrouded in clouds but more often than not there is absolute clarity above the clouds which makes for both a memorable photo and a breathtaking experience
- And last but not least, dress accordingly - its well known that the coldest temperatures are just before sunrise and just after sunset which incidentally are some of the best photography moments in time... so please, wrap up warm with layers upon layers upon layers!
So, this Queenstown holiday why not expand your repertoire beyond selfies and the standard tourist shots? With a bit of planning and a little bit of know-how, you could return home with a computer full of impressive holiday snaps.