Pt II WINTER
This article is the second part of our Picture Perfect series where we tell you some of our secrets to capturing beautiful images in Niseko. Read on to get some tips and ensure your holiday snaps will be the envy of your friends.
“Some simple planning can mean the difference between having a great day out with the camera or standing in the cold with flat batteries and frozen fingers and toes.”
The wet and cold of winter not only affects your body but your equipment as well. Thus your gear list needs to be considerably larger than what you would normally take into the field in the summer time.
Batteries don’t last as long, moisture can cause your lenses to fog up and unless properly rugged up the cold creeps into every part of your body encouraging you to seek refuge in the nearest warm place and wrap your fingers around a hot chocolate. However all of these can be managed with a little preparation and thought.
Rug up – When heading out to photograph, either on or off the hill, make sure you are dressed appropriately. Layering is important and thermals and a good down jacket will ensure you stay toasty whilst you shoot, which can often involve rolling around in the snow to get the best angle. Also make sure you invest in a decent pair of gloves and inners. There is nothing like getting your pinkies out in a blizzard to recognise the value of good gloves. In our office we also keep a large box of hand warmers that our photographers can put on the tops of their hands for extra protection.
Warm socks and boots are also a must if trudging around in the snow. Your day will be a short one if your toes get cold.
Look afer your equipment – Like your fingers and toes your batteries also need to stay warm so keep them inside a pocket in your jacket close to your body. It is also handy to take a back up or two in case one does decide to quit early. Lastly, make sure you look after your camera gear and always close your camera bag when you are not using it. If on the hill there is nothing worse than someone spraying and subsequently filling your open camera bag with snow.
Overexpose – When shooting in the snow the camera will often be fooled by the reflection of light off the white surface. It can trick the camera into thinking a scene is brighter than it actually is and the the result will be an underexposed image which is dull and grey. To correct this you can shoot in manual or you can overexpose your images by about 2/3rds of a stop to bring them back to a vibrant, white exposure. Even small personal cameras should have a button that allows you to overexpose.
Experiment with your focusing – Another common issue we have when shooting in snowy conditions, especially action, is that the auto focus will try to lock onto the falling snow and not on your subject. This is particularly hard in Niseko where the flakes can be as big as your eye. This isn’t as easy to fix as the exposure and depending on what you are shooting the answers will vary. You can try manual focus for still life and landscape and for action I like to switch to the AI focus on my Canon. This will give me automatic focus on moving subjects but I have the sensitivity turned right down so it doesn’t jump around trying to lock focus. It isn’t perfect but is the best system I have found so far and has meant much more in focus images than before.
Overshoot for action – It can also be handy to overshoot for an action sequence as it increases the probability of getting a frame that is in focus as opposed to a giant sized snowflake where the face should have been.
Get up early – Try to make the most of early starts because it means if you are shooting action on the hill you will be rewarded with fresh, untracked snow or if you are shooting landscapes and scenery, the morning light will be at its best. Also the weather can often be calmer in the early hours.
As with our summer article, some simple planning can mean the difference between having a great day out with the camera or standing in the cold with flat batteries and frozen fingers and toes.
Remember that the weather can change very quickly in Niseko and you might start out with nice blue skies and calm weather but within hours or even minutes, it is overcast, snowing heavily and windy enough to blow the spots off a dog. If you’re away from shelter and get caught in adverse conditions being prepared can not only save your day, it could save your life. If you are new to winter photography, start small with little adventures. This will be a good test for your gear and your body. As you build on your experience your rate of success and enjoyment will also improve.
# Hashtag and tag @nisekophotography and @skijapanniseko on your Niseko Instagram and Facebook photos this season to go in the draw to win a one of a kind framed Niseko print! For full terms and conditions visit www.nisekophotography.com
PHOTOS / Niseko photography & guiding