1. Eagles along the Mississippi River
It is an annual tradition to head north along the Great River Road into Grafton IL and points north to watch and photograph the bald eagles fishing. The best spots are usually by the many locks and dams along the river. Cloudy days are also better because the eagles are more actively fishing then.
Pro tip: Bring a long lens, the Sigma and Tamron150-600mm are favorites.
2. Ice Bubbles
When the temperature really drops, try photographing soap bubbles as they freeze. This takes a little dedication because temperatures in the low teens or single digits are best.
Pro tip: Adda little sugar to your soap and water mixture. This will help crystals form! Put your bubble liquid in the fridge for three hours before shooting.
3. Snowy Landscapes
There is something magical that happens to a landscape when it is covered with snow.It eliminates clutter and can lead to some really minimalistic images.
Pro tip: Make sure you have your polarizer with you to bring out the sky or reduce the glare off of ice.
4. Frozen Waterfalls
Another great winter only subject is waterfalls. Even waterfalls that normally have very little water flowing over them can start to look very dramatic. Hickory Canyon down by Hawn State Park has a few box canyon waterfalls that can turn into pure magic.
Pro tip: Bring some crampons for your boots. Crampons will give you traction on the ice so you don’t fall and hurt yourself. They can be found at most outdoor stores for around $30.
5. Plan an Outside Photoshoot
Kids and snow. What else needs to be said.
Pro tip: Make sure your model has bright colors on. The contrast with the snow will draw your viewer’s attention to your subject.
6. Take advantage of the winter light
The days are short and the sun is at a lower angle. This leads to longer than normal golden hours and nice, beautiful long shadows.
Pro tip: Plan ahead. The days are short and you don’t want to be driving to your location as the golden hour hits.
7. Macro Snowflakes and Frost
As with the frozen bubble, snowflakes lend themselves to macro photography. Having the light just right can make the crystal pop right out of your photograph. Pro tip: Have a macro lens (1:1enlargement ratio) to fill your sensor as much as you can with the snowflake. If you don’t have a macro lens,use some extension tubes, they will turn any lens into a macro lens for just a few dollars. Also, try to
capture the snowflakes on a piece of glass so you can play with different angles and lighting.
8. Falling Snow
Go out when it is snowing. After all, it is winter and what says winter like falling snow?!The falling snow will add an environmental atmosphere and interest to your image.
Pro tip: Use a tripod and a slower shutter speed to get blurry snow (just not too long or the falling snow will not show, try ½ second as a starting point) or use a fast shutter speed (1/125th of a sec)to freeze the falling snow.
9. Holiday Bokeh
While the Christmas lights are still up and glowing, take advantage of them for some great background bokeh.
Pro tip: To get the best bokeh, use a wide-open f-stop like f2.8 and lower or make the distance between you and your subject shorter and the distance between your subject and background greater.
10. Play with your White Balance
Adjusting the color temperature of your camera when shooting something monochromatic like a snow scene will add mood to your images. Your camera will turn the image blue if you let the camera pick the white balance. Shoot in either cloudy setting or use manual temp and shoot at something like 8000K.
Pro tip: Remember that white balance and exposure work together. If you are not shooting in manual exposure, dial up your exposure compensation by +1 or even +2.