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  • Wolfgang Lubey

Tips for Winter Wildlife Photography - Part 2 of 2

Snowy Owl

Taking Photos

Shooting in winter is straight-forward for the most part. Clear frigid air has very few disturbances and makes for great photos.

But shooting out of a rolled-down car window will make for some blurry-fuzzy images.

Thermal Distortions

Thermal distortions are a result of warm air mixing with cold air. The different densities cause the distortions.

This happens when one shoots from inside the car. The temperature difference between the car's interior and the outside air causes thermal distortions.

Even driving with open windows does not solve the problem entirely as the moment you stop, warm air from your engine will creep up and cause these issues.

The resulting distortions and swirls visible in the images are virtually impossible to correct in editing

Example of Thermal Distortion

The only real solution: Avoid those distortions by getting out and away from the vehicle (at least a meter or two).

Other things to consider

Use a tripod or monopod. It is nice, for example, to watch a snowy owl perched on a fence and not to have to hold a heavy and possibly cold camera the entire time. Make sure to wear gloves, tripod legs (especially if you have a metal tripod) get really cold really fast.

Be Mindful Towards Wildlife


Be aware that the animals have a much harder life than you do. They are out there day in and day out without a warm shelter like a car or a house at their disposal.

They need to spend a lot of energy just to stay warm and survive.

If the bird flies or the animal runs away – let it go, find another one.

White-tailed Deer

Please do not get carried away and ‘chase’ the bird from perch to perch or the animal across the field… it costs them a lot of energy and they need all their energy for survival.

Be Mindful of Your Own and Others Safety

  • Don’t get carried away chasing ‘the shot’, look before you cross a road, only pull over when it is safe to do so, put your 4-ways on.

  • Don’t trespass when it is signed (if in doubt don’t go)

  • Be aware that blowing snow can hide deep holes, steep ditches, branches sticking up or a barb-wired fence…

Pretty standard things here, especially when you are first getting into wildlife photography... one can get easily carried away.

And last but not least - Have FUN with it

When you, others and wildlife are safe – there's no reason to not have fun, you know – since you are ‘out there’ anyway.

Look for tracks. Can you figure out who made them?

Squirrel? Rabbit? Skunk?

Or try the famous hot water toss… (just hold on to your cup 😁…this one was recovered)

All you need is at least -20C and hot water from a thermos. Fill the cup and spill it with purpose.

If you keep the ‘tosser’ between you and the sun you get this kind of effect.

Hot Water Toss

Have a snowball fight.

Make snow angels.

Just enjoy the quiet time.

There’s so much to do and to explore.

snow covered road

If you have any questions, comment below and remember to give this post a like.

Cheers and many safe and successful photo-trips 📷


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