Fine Art Photographer Jeff Mitchum's Winter Photography Tips

Winter Whisper by Jeff Mitchum
Winter Whisper by Jeff Mitchum
  • Winter Whisper by Jeff Mitchum
    Winter Whisper by Jeff Mitchum
    Winter Whisper by Jeff Mitchum
    Winter Whisper by Jeff Mitchum
  • Alpen Glow by Jeff Mitchum
    Alpen Glow by Jeff Mitchum
    Alpen Glow by Jeff Mitchum
    Alpen Glow by Jeff Mitchum

Fall and spring are known to be prime seasons for stunning photography, but not many know that winter is actually the best time to capture the quiet beauty of the world. Having traveled the world many times over for National Geographic, fine art photographer Jeff Mitchum has the insider knowledge that your readers can use to take advantage of this magnificent season and create their own dazzling winter wonderland keepsake.

Did You Know?

  • The advantage of shooting during winter instead of summer can be found in the air. Unlike the warmer and more humid months, the winter air is free from moisture and the resulting light lends a greater feel of depth and clarity to captured images.
  • The longer winter days and lengthened light present a unique opportunity to capture pinkish reds and soft yellows. Red is the rarest light; however, because the sun stays closer to the horizon, the lenses can easily capture the unusual color and its various hues during this special time of year.

  • If the camera is set to shoot automatically, a good trick is to override the meter. If the camera is pointed at an object lighter or darker than middle gray, the meter incorrectly calculates and will either under- or over-expose the image. By manually overexposing a stop or two, it will turn a dull-looking polar bear into a vibrant white creature of the north.
  • Anticipation is an essential element to unrivaled winter photography. If weather forecasts predict a large storm, arrive the day before to capture its dramatic fringes. Furthermore, never rest during a clearing storm; the wild dramatic light is fantastic for those landscape masterpieces and is worth the chase.
  • Not many consider trekking through snow in freezing temperatures an exciting adventure – that is, until they discover how to be a human bobsled! Click here for Mitchum’s tip on how to mix an element of fun into the hike.
  • It's extremely important to plan ahead to avoid becoming a frosty glass of human flesh. To keep sweat volume to a minimum during location hikes, visit an adventure apparel store for the latest styles and go outdoors fashionably warm with breathable clothing. Mitchum’s essential list includes a Patagonia puffer jacket, Mountain Hardware’s 800-fill down pocket and toe warmers, North Face gloves, snow board pants (for human bobsledding) and a small beanie to go under a large fur cap. In addition, opt for super-absorbent paper towels instead of tissue paper; they are softer and work amiably with camera lenses.
  • Never go into the backcountry without the ability to start a fire and create a refuge. Instead of suffering through potentially fatal nights, be sure to take a butane lighter and practice building a lean-to shelter. Turn the preparation into family time by practicing with the kids in the backyard before embarking on a frosty adventure. This will make those harsh nights more comfortable and make it possible to enjoy hot chocolate while waiting for the morning sun.
  • Never go into the den of a hibernating bear since most come out at some point during their hibernation. Bears in the Alaskan range are less likely to wake up, but why mess with something that likes easy snacks? Instead, Mitchum recommends shooting a unique image of the bear’s frozen tracks leading into the den with a dramatic sunset.