Practical Techniques for Snow Photography

You may not think that now is a fantastic time to get out your camera and capture pictures as snow starts to fall. Though it is. Like rain, snow may create interesting vistas and lovely subjects for your photographs.

Snow does, however, provide certain difficulties. If you don’t use the proper methods, your photographs may come out flat and unimpressive. Check out the following advice to increase your chances of success.

R. Casey, a flake
Change the Exposure
Snow is white (obviously! ), thus your images will often have a backdrop that is quite reflecting. You must consider this and modify your exposure if you want beautiful images.

You must expose especially for the darker subject(s) you have in your frame if you want the exposure to be accurate. Animals, humans, and birds are all much darker than snow. Your TTL (Through-The-Lens) meter will often misread the picture. If you believe the meter, your whites will probably be underexposed since the highest “accurate” exposure registers at 18% Gray.

Adjustments must be made when shooting against a backdrop that is mostly white. You must at least widen the aperture by a third of a stop for snow that is dazzling white. It will be simple to observe how this modification is having a good impact if your eye is trained.

A glimmer of brightness from Philippe ABOULIN.
Metering
You shouldn’t put too much faith in the camera’s matrix light meter mode. Use the Spot Meter instead while shooting in the snow ($20 or less on Amazon). In the absence of a spot meter option, you may instead employ center-weighted metering. Use it for the portion of the photograph that is most crucial and requires the most precise exposure.

You may get away with utilizing just the center-weighted meter setting if the majority of your photograph is made up of snow and ice. But be aware that you can overlook some of the intricate nuances and texture of the snow.

In any event, you should check the negative or histogram to determine whether the whites are clipping. If so, make exposure adjustments (aperture and/or shutter speed) to lessen the quantity of clipped whites. Even on a cloudy day, you’ll always receive some due of the sun’s strength, but try to minimize them as much as you can.

Frosted Teasel Light Source, Robert Felton
It’s critical to consider your light source(s) in addition to the f-stop correction. Keep track of how your subject is situated in relation to the primary and reflected lights. When the background and foreground of the camera are both brilliant white, it is simple to underexpose the subjects. It’s more intense than a studio environment with a white cyclorama would be.

To acquire a “proper” exposure, you may need to blow out the pristine, white backdrop depending on the subject. You could lose some of the shadow detail and snow highlights, but at least you’ll have a solid exposure.

You can cool down or warm up your pictures if your camera lets you change the color temperature in small steps. If you are unable to make these little changes, you may still set the White Balance to Tungsten and shoot in the open air throughout the day. Your photos will thereafter have a blue “cooling” tint to them, which will be especially noticeable in the shadows of backdrops made of snow.

Here’s an easy trick for creating moving pictures if you still shoot film. Put tungsten-balance slide film in your camera, take pictures of your subject(s) in the snowy environment, and then cross-process the film. You’ll notice that the water will have an extraordinarily silky, infinite, and reflective blue-black tint.

Of course, if you’re shooting a snowy scene or still life, you could always take an HDR image. But that’s another topic altogether.