"Winter is Coming" is a famous quote from Jon Snow of the T.V. Show "Game Of Thrones". While many people might go into a G.O.T form of hibernation at this time of year, that doesn't have to happen! Photography can lift your spirits and bring loads of better photo opportunities even in the freakin' cold weather.
So pull out your jacket and gloves and get out and explore the creative possibilities that are waiting. Here are some reasons why you should be out and about shooting some great images at the coldest time of the year.
1. Sunrise is not as early
You don't have to wake up at 5 am to catch a dawn shoot or wait till 9 pm to hook a sunset. Winter days are definitely shorter with a sunrise at around 7 am and sunset at 5 pm. Of course as the months pass times will change slightly. Aside from knowing the correct time for a sunrise or a sunset, it is also important to arrive at least 30-45 minutes before a sunrise and stick around just as long after a sunset. The blue hour, as it is known, can produce some magic moments. When shooting for the stars then knowing when you have a full moon or not can also affect your photo opportunities.
2. The air is cleaner outside
Indoor air quality also becomes a greater concern during the winter because of the amount of time that people stay inside in poor ventilation. Without adequate circulation, carbon dioxide levels can become an issue, leading to headaches and lethargy. Generally, outdoor air quality is better than indoor air, so the best antidote is to get outside regularly.
3. The stars are clearer
There is less humidity and the best view of the Milky Way is available at this time of year. The atmospheric conditions like light pollution and humidity also affect the view. Clearer skies are more often experienced in winter. Here is a link to an article on astrophotography basics.
4. Lower light levels
Because of the lower angles of the sun (the same lower angles that make it so bloody cold), your "quality of light" is generally better throughout the day and shadows are longer (sometimes a good element for your photos). If your shooting day presents you with cloudy, overcast weather, you might also consider changing to the “Cloudy” white balance setting to add some warmth to your photos and minimize any blue cast. This means your ND filters or grad hard or soft filters are not being used as much.
5. Lower sun
For aerial photography, snowy and frosty conditions perfectly emphasise ridges and features and they can be photographed with a clarity not seen at any other time of the year. The low level to which the sun rises casts much longer shadows, making visibility of above ground features much easier to spot. Heavy brooding skies, the low sun and those stormy seas and frost-coated landscapes.