By Anna Gay on | No Comments
For some of you, photographing in the snow may be easier because you are used to being around all that white stuff during the Winter months. I live in Georgia, and we rarely get more than a couple of inches of snow once or twice each year.
In Georgia, entire towns will shut down if we get more than two inches of snow, and there will be no food on the shelves at grocery stores because everyone PANICS as though there is an impending nuclear winter. Its crazy!
Personally, I always welcome the snow because I think its beautiful, and provides some really great photo opportunities.
So, if you are not used to photographing in the snow, or if you have just recently purchased a DSLR and you live in a place where you will see a lot of snow this Winter, here are some great tips on how to make the most of taking photos in the snow.
By far, getting the white balance right is the trickiest part of taking pictures of snow, at least for me. Using automatic white balance and metering on your camera will tend to make the snow turn a gray color, as opposed to a bright dazzling white.
Try changing your camera's white balance to the "cloudy/shade" setting, as this will whiten the snow and help you avoid it turning gray. Alternatively, if there is anything gray in your frame (a rock, shingles on a house, a tree trunk) you can leave your camera in automatic white balance, and meter off of the gray objects by pointing your camera at the gray areas, and pressing the shutter button halfway down. That way, your camera will create a white balance based on the gray, rather than the snow.
One of the great things about snow is the bright light it creates, allowing you to use a faster shutter speed, resulting in sharper images. Using a fast shutter speed allows you to capture moving action, like a snowball fight, and will also capture falling snow, without being blurry.
On the flip side, you can try using a slower shutter speed to blur the movement of the snow. This can create a really interesting “streaking” effect when you are photographing snow falling!
Now would be a great opportunity to try a polarizing filter - a great filter for snow photography as it will increase the contrast in your highlights and shadows, as well as deepen the blues in the sky if you are shooting on a sunny day. Snow scenes tend to “flatten out” the tones in your final image, depending on the light, so using a polarizing filter will help that a great deal by bumping up the contrast in your image.
Wintery snow scenes provide the perfect excuse (as if we needed one) to experiment and get wild with post-processing. The possibilities are endless – high contrast black and white, high contrast color, vintage-inspired processing, cross-processing, sepia, cool tone, you name it, so don’t be afraid to shake it up and try something new!
For those of us who don't get to experience real snow often enough, Pretty Presets for Lightroom has a wonderful Winter Lightrom Preset Collection which can be used to enhance cool tones, dull green foliage to make it more winter-like and even add snow to your image! I love it!
And if you are a Photoshop user, I recommend the Let it Snow Photoshop Action Collection. You can use this set to create and enhance your Winter masterpiece using frosty tone actions, instant snow actions created from "Real Snow" textures ranging from a light snowfall to a heavy snow blizzard and so much more! My favorite for Photoshop
One of the most frustrating things for me when I’m shooting in the snow is trying to operate my camera while wearing gloves. I definitely recommend getting a pair of gloves that will allow you to fold the fabric down to expose your fingertips, as that will allow you to operate your camera more freely.
Also, be really careful when moving your camera from outdoors to indoors, as cameras do not like drastic temperature changes. If you move your camera from outdoors where it is really cold, into a warm building too quickly, it can cause condensation inside your camera. Camera condensation can damage the wiring, and also cause mold to form over time. Try leaving your camera in a car, or some place that is between outdoors and indoors for a bit before bringing it inside.
These are my favorite tips for shooting in the snow!
Do you have any questions or other tips you would like to share about Snow Photography? Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!
Anna Gay is a portrait photographer based in Athens, GA and the author of the dPS ebook The Art of Self-Portraiture. She also designs actions and textures for Photoshop. When she is not shooting or writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband, and their two cats, Elphie and Fat Cat.