Okay, let’s not panic – it’s not quite that cold yet (depending on where you live). However, with winter just around the corner your kids are likely looking forward to trying out a variety of winter sports; skiing, skating, hockey, etc. Which means you’ll want to be able to take some good photos of them enjoying themselves. Which is why you are here!
Without further ado, here are some tips for getting the best photos of your kids while they are enjoying winter sports:
If you don’t know already, there are risks to taking your camera out in the cold. To be specific, when your camera gets cold and the warms up again there is the possibility that moisture could build up inside your camera and lens. So you need a large Ziploc bag; when your camera and lens are ready to come back inside make sure you put them in the bag and seal it tight. By placing it in the bag the moisture will form on the bag, rather than inside your equipment. For larger cameras/lenses, bring two bags.
Also, consider a scarf to cover your nose/mouth on really cold days. This will help prevent the moisture from your breath from forming freezing onto the back of your camera.
Finally, batteries won’t last as long when they are cold. If you are out for a long period try to keep a spare battery hand, and keep it close to your body so it stays warm.
All the white in a winter scene (such as snowy ski slopes or white ice at the ice rink) can confuse your camera into thinking it needs a darker exposure, so you’ll need to learn to override your camera’s default exposure setting by around one stop. The brighter the day is, the more you’ll have to play with exposure to get a good image that doesn’t look dim.
Learn how to set a custom white balance, or look for a “snow” setting on your camera’s white balance menu. Even though snow might look white to you, your eyes automatically make an adjustment. Snow tends to have a blue cast to it, if you don’t set your white balance it might come through on your image.
Finally, what settings should you use? Primarily you’ll be working with a telephoto lens (or so one hopes) so you don’t have to be “in” the action while photographing your kids playing winter sports. The next consideration is your shutter speed, which depends on how fast the action is. Skiing might be faster than hockey or ice skating. Start with 1/500s and move up or down from there. This may require you to increase your ISO sensitivity to compensate. Remember that action coming across the camera requires a faster shutter speed than action that’s coming directly to or away from the camera.
By selecting Continuous Autofocus, you can lock on to your subject by holding the shutter button halfway, if they move your camera will compensate to ensure the image is still crisp. Turn on multiple exposures so you can hold down your shutter button when you are ready and have your camera continue to take shots until you are done, or your camera’s buffer is full and has to pause.
If there’s a pause in the action you can get some still shots up close of your child in all their winter gear, choose a decently wide aperture (f/5.6 or larger) and go for it!
Don’t forget to dress warm – especially gloves, the last thing you want is to be cold and miserable while your child is enjoying playing winter sports. If you can both have some fun then you’ll come out with great photos and a fun day.