Photo by David Pritchard
The most important part about photography at this time of year is – rather obviously, to be prepared for the cold! Warm clothing, preferably layered, and a hat; if you're cold, your mind is more on how cold you are rather than the pictures you're looking for.
Remember too, that when you're standing around looking for photographs, you will get colder quicker, so err on the side of too much, rather than too little warm clothing. Your camera battery won't last as long in sub-zero temperatures either, so make sure you have a spare with you, and that they're fully charged. Try keeping the spare in an inside pocket, rather in your camera bag, as your body warmth will keep the charge in the battery for longer.
Frosts are typically better early in the day, often before the sun hits the frost and starts to thaw it; which means a prompt start, but one of the benefits of the winter months, is that at least sunrise is at a more sociable time than in the summer! Head for areas of open space and rolling landscapes, rather than woodland, where the shelter of the trees can prevent frost.
Trees and hedges however, are great subjects for frost of course, but more in isolation. Use your macro lens for close-ups of frost on leaves – both on the tree or lying on the ground - or on cobwebs. Even frost on a barbed wire fence portrays the feeling of a crisp winter morning. Remember too, that a small aperture will give you a greater depth-of-field, to ensure more of your picture remains sharp, but on isolated leaves, try a wider aperture to isolate the leaf against an out-of-focus background.
Photo by David Pritchard
On a really cold day, when even the sun isn't going to thaw the frost too quickly, a touch of sunlight helps to emphasise the sparkle of frost, and especially try shooting into the light to accentuate the glint of the sun on the frost still further, but remember to use a lens hood to minimise the chance of flare on your pictures.
Even photographing in the shade can still show wonderful textures, and remember, temperatures remain lower in the shade – so frost tends to hang about longer. If your subject is in a particularly shady spot, use of a reflector can help to bounce a little daylight into the darker areas. A warm reflector, such as a gold, or sunfire, can also help to reduce the blue cast so common in the shade.
The white of frost can also fool your camera meter, so keep a close eye on your histogram as most cameras still "see" white frost as mid-grey. Possibly an exposure compensation of around +1 stop will keep your frost-laden trees looking pristine white.