6 Winter Photography Projects

6 Winter Photography Projects

With the shorter days and colder weather (well, for me here in the States, at least), it’s getting harder, although not impossible, to get outside for the beautiful landscape and urban shots.

By Victor

I’m the type of person that always likes to have a new project (or two) to work on, so here’s some things I plan on working on – maybe it will spark some ideas for you!

1. Food Photography

food.jpgI love to cook, and I’m always sharing new recipes with family and friends, and it’s nice to have a photo to go along with them, but I have a bit to learn when it comes to making my food look as good in photos as it tastes. Now is the perfect time to start learning, though! Not only am I stuck indoors more, but I also make a lot of warm, hearty dinners in the winter that should hopefully make for some good subjects – including holiday dinners, of course! To get me started, a quick search of DPS has shown me an introduction to food photography, some food photography tutorial videos, and food photography techniques and tips.

2. Light Painting

Light painting is something that I’ve played with in the past, and it’s one of those things that seems to be a popular phase that a lot of photographers go through, but I’ve recently got re-inspired to play around some more after a series of posts on DIYPhotography.net on light painting, tools used in light painting, and how to create an orb. And, of course, by the recently posted 25 spectacular light painting images here on DPS.

3. Fun with holiday decorations

decorations.jpgIs it sad that it’s not family, friends, or friendly neighborhood competitions that get me excited about decorating for the Holidays? It’s getting fun photos! There are just so many great decorations up around town and in houses that it’s hard to resist. I don’t put up many decorations myself, so I’m sure to take my camera wherever I go this holiday season. For instance, this cute snowman is sitting in front of my parent’s Christmas tree.

4. Learning to use lighting

I don’t have an off-camera flash. To be honest, I’m a bit intimidated trying to figure out what I should look for in a flash and how I would use it once I got it (or them). So I plan on taking some time this winter and reading through Strobist’s Lighting 101. Will some of it be over my head? Definitely. Will it make me wish I had an off-camera flash? Well, I already do, but it will probably make me want one more. Will it help me make an educated purchase of what lighting equipment I actually need? I sure hope so!

5. Snow photos

snow.JPGI’m really excited about this one – and I hate the snow! Once again, I’m starting to appreciate things more now that I have a camera to photograph them with. Last winter I had my DSLR for less than a year, and was unsure of myself in many areas of photography – snow being one of those. I found it’s really hard to get a good photo with snow it. For one, there are footprints in the snow, or dirt in the snow, or various other things that change the snow from soft and beautiful to dirty and gross. Even a bigger issue, though, is that exposing snow can be a difficult thing and I would end up with half my snow photos being a dull gray and the other half being bright white. I was able to get a few photos that I was semi-happy with (like the one you see here), but I’m looking forward to taking the things I’ve read online, and the things I’ve learned with another year of experience under my belt to really start getting some good snow photos. Let it snow! I’m ready!

6. Looking through old photos

If you’re staying inside trying to keep warm, it’s a perfect time to start looking through some of your old photos. There’s a few reasons why I like to do this. When I first transfer a big batch of photos from my memory card to my computer, I’m often overwhelmed by them all and pick out just a few to edit and post online – there might be some other gems in there just waiting to be discovered and edited. Another reason I like to look through them is because I’d like to think that I’m constantly learning and improving, so maybe there’s some photo out there that I could edit better this time around. Finally, looking through my photos often gives me inspiration and new ideas – I can try redoing an old photo that didn’t come out exactly how I wanted it to, for example.

So, what projects are you planning on tackling with these shorter, colder days?

About the Author: Jennifer Jacobs is an amateur photographer who runs iffles.com – a site for photography beginners. She’s also addicted to flickr and you can follow her stream here.

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Some Older Comments

  • pokkisam December 23, 2011 01:55 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I've compiled here some best examples of winter photographs http://blog.pokkisam.com/content/winter-photography-beautiful-pictures-wintertime

  • Tomasz Worek March 18, 2011 12:30 am

    "Snow photos" that's what i am usually doing during winter. Landscapes look completely different during this part of the year, it may surprise you even if you know given area really well:

    Summer: http://www.tomaszworek.com/gallery-babia_gora--en.html
    Winter: http://www.tomaszworek.com/gallery-babia_gora_zima--en.html

  • Brer Bear January 19, 2011 03:19 am

    Harumph! Me, I put all my photographic gear away in October, and find a nice warm cave where I sleep all winter. Its true I don't get many pictures, in fact i don't get any, but come spring I'm ready to get up and go.

  • Sy Weiner January 16, 2011 09:50 pm

    I teach photography in New Jersey and since my class in High School is a year long I am always attempting to find winter projects. Here is one for making a Photo Cube. I added the images but I do not see them here. So if there is a blank space that is where I expected them to appear.

    Activity – Create a 6 image Photo Cube.

    1. Select 6 images that are somehow connected.
    2. Adjust color if necessary to keep all images contrasting.
    3. Select the first image to resize.
    4. Crop and resize each image into a square.
    a. Notice the Crop Option Bar has a place to enter Height and Width.
    b. It should be empty.
    c. If it is not empty click Clear
    d. Enter number of inches in both Width and Height.
    e. The number should be the same, probably 15.
    f. This will create a square crop tool.
    g. This allows only a square image to be selected.
    h. You may make the square larger or smaller by moving the corner handle.
    i. You may move the entire square by moving the mouse pointer to the center of the image and click and hold and move the selected area.
    j. Hit enter after you have completed the selection.
    k. Do a Save As and save your image with a new name.

    5. Hit enter to confirm your crop.
    6. Save each image into a folder on the share drive HS206.
    7. Open a new Word document.
    a. For each image use Insert > Picture > From File
    b. Resize each image to 2” square.
    i. Right click the image
    ii. Click Format Picture
    iii. Click Size
    iv. Change Height to 2” (Note Width should change to a number that is very close to 2”)
    8. Print image on special heavy index card stock.
    9. Cut images to fit Photo Cube.
    10. Glue lightly.

  • TSchulz January 14, 2011 12:16 am

    Here in Wisconsin we get buried in snow and frozen with cold. So, I was just having fun with shooting holiday decorations. Here's an example of my latest shot.


  • Tom January 13, 2011 03:06 pm

    Winter really is a great time to test out some of these techniques. Light painting is one I have yet to try. I love the snow photos option as well. I absolutely hate the cold weather, but I do love what winter brings to the landscape - especially the shore of Lake Michigan:

  • mya January 9, 2011 05:42 am

    Haha looking through old photos is what I am doing right now.

  • Silverivy January 9, 2011 01:06 am

    Snow shots. If this past week is any indication, we'll be seeing a lot of it this winter.

  • Rosh January 8, 2011 02:52 am

    Winter is tough, but not every photograph needs to have a blue sky.

    I also agree with Brian, the macro lens is a always a great place to start.


  • JM January 7, 2011 05:25 pm

    Why are you all inside? OMG. GET OUT AND SHOOT!!! I lived in Anchorage for five winters, and now in NJ, and I do most of my shooting (at least the cool stuff) between late October, through April!

    Some piddling around trying to make bad images look good. Stop it :) Go SHOOT something.

    Stop wasting time!

  • Darryl Treadwell January 7, 2011 04:07 pm

    I think I will start learning / experimenting more in my home studio, though it is a simple studio (two strobes with soft boxes and a reflector about 350$) I think i will learn a lot when it comes to portraits and still-life. and will be a lot of fun.

  • Ron Cornelison January 7, 2011 11:56 am

    This winter I intend to be the best Racing Pigeon photographer in the area, not the common street pigeon, even though I do love photographing them as well.
    Mastering my Nikon off camera flash technique is right up there as well.
    One other thing, I am walking my favorite wooded areas searching for very large bird nests in the bare tree limbs, marking the locations so I can return in the spring to capture a few good bird shots.

  • Tito Texidor III January 7, 2011 01:12 am

    I can't wait to take some snow shots either!

  • Tim January 6, 2011 11:36 pm

    Jennifer, Another fun winter photo project is macro flower photography. Just go to your local grocery store, pick up an inexpensive bouquet of flowers, set them in your kitchen and shoot away. Colorful flowers look great on a black background, so I often hang up a black cloth I bought in the remnant section of a fabric store.

  • Leo Mangubat January 6, 2011 11:00 pm

    I have already started picking some of my best photos for a theme which inspires me. Searched for my favorite songs/music and make a movie/slideshow out of them. It is really rewarding to see your pictures in a slideshow with a very nice background music that goes along it. The music lifts the beauty of the pictures to a new and different level.

  • James Merrifield January 6, 2011 05:18 pm


  • Debra January 6, 2011 04:47 pm

    My project for the winter is to learn how to use Adobe Lightroom, which I just bought. Joining my local camera club. And deciding whether to sign up for a fun photography workshop in late winter/early spring. Does anyone here have experience with Santa Fe Workshops?

  • ScottC January 6, 2011 04:46 pm

    Snow is going to be a significant one for me this year, it is very difficult to photograph. This one is the result of significant post-processing work, I need to get snow better in-camera.


    Also signed up with a 52 group on flickr.

  • Shlomo January 6, 2011 02:54 pm

    tys for this it is great for my 365 project


  • Scott Thomas Photography January 6, 2011 02:38 pm

    LOL....I am running a photo assignment (some call it a challenge) on my blog soon on Food Photography. Thanks for the link!

  • Marcus W. Kinion January 5, 2010 01:16 am

    We are having the coldest winter here in Kansas and I have been lucky to get out and take some photos I have posted some on my blog. i would like to know if you like or dislike my photos.

  • Joanne January 4, 2010 09:26 am

    Adobe Photoshop Elements is the easiest way to organize photo by keywords in the organizer so they are eary to find when you want to find a specific kind or photo, location or event or person. You tag them when you import them so it saves hours of research. You can also do editing for color correction with ease. It is an easy to understnd program and worth the small cost. You add the metadata, copyright info. in the advanced uploading so all of the images contain all of the particulars as they are uploaded. Simple, fast and time saving. Online tutorials and help available also.

  • Aundrea January 2, 2010 08:28 am

    my winter projects are keywording all of my images and tying my website, my blog and online store (www.cafepress.com/khoncepts2) images together. I've set up a template of categories, descriptions and keywords. Now I'll be able to cut and paste as needed rather than re-write them each time and can easily tweak them as well.

  • Fran Johnson January 2, 2010 02:13 am

    If my photos are saved in picasa, how would I upload a picture to this site? I'm used to clicking on a browse button and uploading that way. I am missing out uploading pictures. Help!

  • Aly January 1, 2010 10:27 am

    Thanks for the great post! I've always had an infatuation with food photography and I'm going to take the opportunity of the new year to combine some resolutions....ie: eat better, and then take photos of my food!
    Happy New Year!

  • Chelsea(CLR Photography) January 1, 2010 05:20 am

    true that. happy new year!

  • Pepy @ Indonesia Eats January 1, 2010 03:10 am

    I am into the food photography. . Artificial lights are used in the winter, but still I love natural light which is hard to get nowdays.

  • caledon_rob January 1, 2010 02:25 am

    Just got my first serious DSLR, Nikon D90 and got this shot on a cold and frosty winter morning. [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/caledon_rob/4231440174/' title='Snow Queen' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4029/4231440174_090aa94205.jpg']

  • Fran Johnson January 1, 2010 01:39 am

    I love the idea posted by scottd about shooting photos in the lobby of hotels. I do outdoor photography and right now it's cold and I don't have a studio just yet. I have had people ask me if I know of a place indoors. Didn't think of the hotel lobby...good idea-Thanks!

  • Kristopher Michael January 1, 2010 12:32 am

    I completely agree with Zack Jones. I'll be keywording nearly 25k worth of photos to make sure the New Year is a little less cluttered.
    Aside from that, I'll definitely be playing with my new lighting setup and actually try to get outside in the snow as much as possible!

  • PRH December 31, 2009 03:08 pm

    well all but #5 can be done all year round

  • PRH December 31, 2009 03:06 pm

    How about some summer projects for us southerners (ie south of the equator :D )

  • Harry Hoffhines December 31, 2009 02:09 pm

    If you have a tripod with you and a neutral density filter you may be able to take a really slow speed shot (low ISO and small aperture) and most of the people (the moving ones at least) will disappear.

  • Van Marciano Art December 31, 2009 01:22 pm

    Cool stuff, looking forward to taking some inspiring winter snaps this year and hoping to wake up to a few inches of snow perhaps to add to the collection, thanks for sharing.

  • Curtis Wallis December 31, 2009 12:37 pm

    Getting out and doing test shots of the snow can be great practice. It is a rough environment and plays havoc on your camera metering. That said the end results can be fantastic

  • ScottD December 31, 2009 10:55 am

    A great winter photo spot is in the lobby of big hotels. They are usually well decorated with lots of soft light through skylights and such. The problem is all the people wandering around. Shoot early morning for a sense of solitude and to capture just the decor. Shoot in the evening to capture the festive holiday feel when folks are enjoying the lobby bar.

  • Michael Silberstein December 31, 2009 10:47 am

    I lover winter great lighting.
    Over casting softens shadows and reflect soft light from the city and town you are near or in . You will have a great time if you have a tripod
    Tips for time laps in winter.
    1 Use a Tripod or other means to stabilize your shots.
    ( don't try to hold it in hand, almost always turn out blur)
    2 Use the self timer mode or a remote do eliminate movement cause by engaging shutter
    (pressing button to take photo)
    3 take lots of photos of same view with different settings
    (cloud cover light has all kids of lighting in it and will cause issues and true color)

  • Michael Silberstein December 31, 2009 10:32 am

  • Aimee Greeblemonkey December 31, 2009 07:48 am

    Awesome post, I forwarded to some friends who are experimenting with their cameras!

  • Sophie December 31, 2009 07:35 am

    My big winter project this year has been to finally get round to printing and framing some of my favourite shots. Researching nice, reasonably priced frames and custom mounts seemed to while away many a happy hour. I'm also uploading a selection of pictures into smugmug which has meant lots of choosing and post-processing, another good winter activity.

    Food photography is my main camera hobby anyway so this has continued but I have to say even that is hampered a little by the short days and lower natural light levels. Maybe I need to spend a bit more time figuring out that speedlite flash.

  • Funkmon December 31, 2009 07:28 am

    I've spent much of this winter looking through my years old pictures from my first 3.1 megapixel cameras, to my 5s to my 12, to my new D500, and trying to find things I can at least throw some filters on, or maybe find something interesting at least. It's not working out so well, though. :P.

    I'll try some of these other things, too! :D.

  • Jason Collin Photography December 31, 2009 06:57 am

    One day I'll make that do-it-yourself light box and photograph some food.

  • sillyxone December 31, 2009 04:18 am

    depending on how expensive your camera is, try to get involved in more outdoor activities, they are endless fun opportunities. Last week, I was playing in the snow with my daughter for about 2 hours and shot about a hundred photos of her (only a dozen is good). My D40 was covered with snow, water dripping all around it, and it got snowballed two times (thanks to the UV filter, the len is protected). The only problem is the shortened battery life, but it recovered after getting indoor. It was around 25F, the camera was very cold to the touch when I brought it inside, but didn't show any problem.

    also, you tend to get dull photos on a snowy day since the cloud is gray and blocks sunlight. On sunny days, the sky is velvet blue, the snow has more texture, but it also tends to be much colder on those days.

  • Zack Jones December 31, 2009 03:23 am

    #6 Part 1 - Keywording. Going through the 15,000+ photos I have in my LightRoom library and assigning keywords so I can easily locate all photos taken of my cat, in various states, etc.

    #6 Part 2 - Learn from my mistakes. We all make them so when I find a shot that just didn't turn out like I wanted I'll spend some time reviewing it to figure out where I went wrong.

    #7 - Teach my wife more about a DSLR. She's expressed an interest so while we're stuck inside it seems like a perfect time to start teaching her more about them.

  • Donna Luker December 31, 2009 03:12 am

    Re: #4 - Strobist is an excellent place to start. You should also check out Joe McNally's "Hot Shoe Diaries." Excellent & super easy to follow. I've plugged this book to so many people/forums....Joe owes me ;)

    Re: #6: - I just started re-visiting old files this past weekend. What's fun is finding an image I saved that I now have the skills to edit the way I want.

  • Brian Matiash December 31, 2009 03:11 am

    For me, I love to break out the ol' macro lens and see what I have lying around the house. The possibilities are endless. I even wrote a blog entry about having macro parties - http://brianmatiash.com/b/macro