Winter photography inspiration – colour, texture and tone…

• Winter Bliss • By Kyle McDougall

• Winter Bliss • By Kyle McDougall

Winter photogrpahy – free your vision.

Too often the dull, dim and dank days of Winter leave us cold. Venturing out? Winter photography? Noooo! Yet Winter offers a world of inspiring colours, textures, sights and light not there at other times of the year.

Not grey, great!

Like any other time of the year sunset and sundown are times of the day when the most amazing colours are revealed. The magic of the golden hour pinks and golds is just as exciting in the winter as it is in the summer – and you don’t have to be out so early or so late with shorter days. What is not so obvious to the inexperienced, Winter photography is the power of the winter colours. There is amazing colour, strong colour. However, especially in snowy environments, the golds, pinks and blues are mellowed into a softness that you don’t see at other times of the year. The wonderful pink tones in the image above show the point beautifully.

I have mentioned before in these pages that often the best pictures are captured just after the sun has gone down or just before it comes up. This “blue” period of the day provides infinite tonal blues that caress the eye. I just love these times of day. The great thing is that most photographers have packed up and gone home as the “blue” time starts… you have the stage. Make the best of this time as you will be among the few who use it well.

In Winter, texture wins the day

The lower light levels, and lower angle of light in the sky, often puts off photographers in Winter. But this is the best time to capture some wonderful textures. Muted winter colours and low light combine to create excellent contrasts and micro-shadows. Along with the soft light these environmental factors are a gift to the seeing photographer. Ice, snow and even water take on an almost ethereal glow punctuated by texture. If you can capture that with a good composition your pictures will create wonderful and lasting images in your viewers mind. Look for opportunities to get the sun low in the sky and those lovely early morning or evening tones and shadows from the side.


In your winter photography look for opportunities to express the colours and contrasts that appear. They are different to those you find in the Summer. The subtleties of tone, texture and colour are there for all to see, but only the insightful photographer will make good use of them.

My thanks to Kyle McDougall for his permission to use his photographs.

find out more...Photokonnexion tips by email
If you enjoyed this article please sign up for our
daily email service.
                                                 Find out more

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

4 responses to “Winter photography inspiration – colour, texture and tone…

  1. Very good article.

    I have several photos with the lights look like in twilight falls photo of Kelly. When I took those photos it was overcast at the time. All of my photos that I took that time look like pale blue if not bluish.

    I thought I might had wrongly set my white balance. I am not so sure though.

    What white balance would you recommend to use for winter scene?

    • The problem with white balance in Winter is that the snow makes a predominant colour of white. If you have your white balance set to offset the colour of indoor lights (florescent or tungsten) you will get a yellowish green or bluish colour cast. So you need to reset your colour balance.

      The other way you can get bluish cast is at twilight. After the sun has gone down the sky takes on a navy blue colour. It really does have that colour and it is sometimes difficult to tell with just our eyes because we adjust that in our brain and take out the blue. A camera will report the true colour blue.

      You can correct for both of those. However, with the snow situation you will need to adjust for the colour of the white. The camera, on auto white balance will correct for bright white and tend to turn it to light grey. Auto settings tend to work to grey or average settings. So when you are dealing with white you will need to follow your camera manual. It will tell you the procedure for fixing the white balance for the white in snow.

      In the case of the evening blue the same can be adjusted using the manual procedure. However, since the colour is really that blue it may be right to leave it. Many people, especially landscape photographers love the time after sun down when the blue is there. It is a truly wonderful moment.

      Let me know if that answers your problem or if I can help further.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. Hi Damon, thanks, very informative and timely too:)