Preparing for Winter Photography along Lake Superior’s North Shore

The Wonderful World of Winter Photography

Guest post by William Hurst – Owner of William Hurst Photography

william hurst photography

I’m sitting at my desk overlooking the Saint Louis Bay from the front window of my house and I can’t help but think about what the winter will bring. There’s a strong gust out of the north howling through the newly barren branches. We’re in a holding pattern. The temperature is below freezing, yet there is no snow. Personally, I’m looking forward to winter, and snow. The light is amazing this time or year, even if brief in the winter months of northern Minnesota. The sun hangs low on the horizon providing depth and contrast throughout the day. Sunrises in the winter, are beautifully silent. The sound of one’s breathing can be deafening. I invite this silent calm to sit with my spirit. In the summer, I often find myself “chasing the light”. In the winter, there is no need to chase it. The light is always beautiful. The colors of sunrise/sunset in winter can be a soft purple/blue hue that can fill the entire frame, as far as the eye can see. They can also be overwhelmingly fiery. Visions of photographs I’m looking forward to capturing this upcoming season are floating through my mind.

Staying Comfortable on Winter Shoots

winter photography preparation

Bundled up for a winter photoshoot. Stacie is wearing multiple layers that can be added/removed as needed along with good winter boots, gloves, hat and scarf. Image: William Hurst Photography.

Temperatures below freezing aren’t bothersome with a little extra planning and, as long I am dressed appropriately in layers. I realized years ago that a heavy-duty pair of Smartwool socks, warm winter boots, and a pair of Kahtoola MICROspikes are essentials to being comfortable playing around by the shore of Lake Superior in the winter. Layers, over layers, over layers, are needed for maximum warmth. A little extra precaution goes a long way in staying safe and dry.

Related: Learn these Top 5 Outdoor Winter Safety Tips.

Winter Photography Equipment

winter photography equipment

The right equipment can make all the difference when out on a winter photo shoot. Tripods, polarized filters, shutter releases… and extra batteries are a must! Image: William Hurst Photography.

Most cameras these days can handle extreme temperatures. Technology in digital photography has come a long way since my first digital “point and shoot” around a decade ago. Unfortunately, that one was forgotten overnight in the car mid-February, and the LCD Display never recovered. Occasionally, it still attempts to work.

Camera’s these days can, for the most part, handle extreme cold. As long as they are allowed to warm up, with plenty of air around them, it’s not an issue.

Tripods and remote triggers are a cold whether photographer’s best friends. It’s much easier to capture a photograph with mittens on, if you are using a tripod and remote shutter release.

Related: Check out The North Shore Winter Photography Workshop.

I also recommend using a CPL or Circular Polarizing Filter on sunny days for winter photography. This helps to reduce glare from the snow, and with the proper exposure compensation, can help to make your photography “pop”, without blowing out the highlights. Extra batteries come in handy as well. The cold weather tends to drop the battery longevity by quite a bit. Especially, if using a “live view” option. Having plenty of back up batteries will ensure that you have a positive experience shooting in sub-freezing temps.

Hopefully you are as excited about winter photography as I am. Bring on the snow and ice! Happy shooting, and I’ll see you on the trail. Cheers!

-William Hurst

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Join William this February for the North Shore Winter Photography Workshop – a hands-on photography workshop focused on the art and adventure of North Shore winter photography.

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