(Text & Photo by Fred Bonilla) If you're like me, you've taking advantage of this winter's abundant (to say the least) snowfall to take some outside shots of the beautiful surroundings. If you plan to take your camera outside to take some snow shots, here's some tips to record the winter of 2011... 1. Keep your camera (and batteries) warm & dry! Digital camera batteries do not react well to cold, so keep your camera under your coat until you're ready to use it & bring your spare battery if you have one. Keep the spare in a warm coat or pants pocket, so it'll be ready when your in camera battery wears out. As for the camera, be ready to wipe it dry when it gets wet or get yourself a rain-sleeve that you would normally use for wet weather ( we sell a couple of different models at CWS). Point & shoots have their own waterproof sleeves or cases, or you can improvise with a sandwich bag with a hole cut out for the lens. Also, take a little time for your camera to acclimate to the cold surroundings before shooting. 2. Why are my snow pictures dark, even in bright sunlight? Well, if you use your camera's "auto" setting for outside snow shots, the results are usually too dark. All that snow throws off your camera's exposure readings. So, it would be best to overexpose your snow shots by one or two stops. Your camera meter reads the reflections from the snow and tries to read it as 18% gray. You want your snow to look white, just as you see it , so to get the snow on it's correct tonal range, you'll want to let in more light. Try both an overexposure setting of +1 and +2 to see which would work best in your particular situation. Some point & shoot cameras and DSLRs like the Nikon D5000 have a specific "snow" setting in their customized shooting modes. Use it! 3. Look out for the sun! This general outdoor shooting rule especially applies in outdoor winter pictures: Try your best to have the sun to the left or right side of your subject(s) during morning and late afternoon hours, and directly behind you at high noon or early afternoon.You don't want to shoot into the direction of the sun in these situations. 4. This is a great time to use your polarizing filter, if you have one. On very sunny days, use your polarizer to help cut the glare from the snow and deepen any colors in your photo . If you do use this filter, keep in mind that the polarizer cuts down the light that hits your sensor, so get the glare out by turning the outer rim of your filter, then compensate your 1-2 stops of overexposure for the desired result. 5. Oh, the choices! If you're taking people pictures in the snow using tip #2, you might find that as you trying to expose the snow correctly, you'll also will overexposing the faces in your picture. You may have to choose in this situation whether correct exposure to the faces or the surroundings is preferable. If it's the faces, then get real close and take a reading for someone's face, then lock in that setting for the shot. As a result, no matter where you take the photo from, the faces will be correctly exposed. 6. As always, have fun! Try to inject color in your shots to contrast with all the white of the snow. Use fill flash when taking people shots for a different lighting effect. Use different angles to get a new perspective on an otherwise ordinary picture. Using these tips, I'm sure you'll get a shot that captures this snowy winter for years to come!