Each season of the year brings unique opportunities, and challenges, for landscape photographers. The same scene can look drastically different throughout the year, and if you want captivating and unique photos getting out in the winter is one of the best ways to make it happen. Not only can snow and ice add intrigue to your photos, but fewer winter photos exist for most locations, so your work will stand out.
Of course, shooting landscapes in winter requires some planning, safety precautions, and a desire to do what’s needed to get quality photographs, but the it can be well worth the effort. In this article we’ll take a look at 10 possibilities for capturing your own unique and amazing photos during winter months.
Related reading: Winter Landscape Photography Tips
Snow-covered mountains are a great subject for landscape photographers. Many high mountains are covered in snow well beyond the winter months, but winter brings the opportunity for photographers all over the world to head to a nearby mountain and capture a beautiful snow-filled scene.
Photo by Unsplash
Driving on winter roads may not be very much fun, but photographing them can be a great way to capture the winter landscape. It could be a plowed road (like the one shown below) surrounded by a snow-covered landscape, or a road covered in an untouched layer of snow either during a snowstorm or before the road has been cleared.
Photo by Abigail Keenan
Simply photography trees covered with snow can make for some interesting photos. The photo below shows snow-covered tree tops with a foggy haze that gives it a nice wintery feel. You can even opt for close ups of branches or small sections of a tree covered in a fresh snow.
Photo by Ryan Pohanic
While autumn presents opportunities for photographing the beautiful colors of changing leaves, once those leaves have fallen you can also get nice moody photos. This is especially true when snow or ice are present to give the photo a more distinct winter look.
Photo by Sorby Photo
Freezing or frozen bodies of water can also present photographic opportunities. Lakes make excellent subjects in any season, and in winter the scene can result is unique and beautiful photos. This doesn’t apply only to lakes. You could photograph a small pond, river, or even a waterfall in a snowy or icy setting.
Photo by John Cobb
Winter also presents opportunities for beautiful night landscapes, especially if you are fortunate enough to be in a location where you can view the aurora borealis.
To learn how to capture beautiful night landscapes please see Collier’s Guide to Night Photography in the Great Outdoors.
Photo by fancycrave1
Close Up Details
Snow and ice can create intriguing photos, especially when you capture the close up details. It could be snow on a tree (like the photo below). a fallen leave covered by a layer of ice, closeups of a frozen lake, the texture of a snow-covered object, or some other detail.
Photo by Christine Makhlouf
Include a Person in the Landscape
This option isn’t limited to just winter landscapes, but it’s worth pointing out because it can really change your photos. You could include a person in the foreground, like the example below, or somewhere off in the distance to add scale and perhaps some intrigue. Landscape photography is typically all about the nature, but sometimes adding a person can really make your photos stand out.
Photo by Erik Sandybaev
Epic, iconic landscapes can look drastically different when covered in snow. While there are countless photos of the Grand Canyon, a very small percentage of them show this highly-recognized landscape in winter. If you want photos of iconic destinations but want yours to be unique, consider visiting during winter months.
Photo by Skeeze
Sunrise or Sunset
Sunrise and sunset are ideal times for nature photography any time of the year, but a winter sunrise or sunset can combine with snow or ice to look even more amazing. Also, since the days are shorter in the winter sunrise will be later than other times of the year, and sunset earlier. Depending on your schedule and when you are able to easily get out for some photography, the winter sunrise and sunset times may be convenient for you.
Related reading: Sunrise Photography: Make Your Images Sparkle and Shine
Related reading: Tips for Better Sunset Photography
Photo by Alain Audet