5 Tips for better snow photos

December 28, 2010

Trees sky - Piani di Bobbio

As parts of North America dig out after a mammoth snow fall let’s take a few minutes to talk about taking photos of the fluffy white stuff.

Photographing snow can be a difficult prospect. The color, extra bouncing light, white balance, can all ruin your best laid plans. How can you shoot better photos in a winter wonderland?

Open it up

Your camera light meter tries to adjust exposure to 18% gray. This is not especially helpful when shooting snowscapes or winter activities. The answer: Open up your aperture or dialed down your shutter speed. If you’re using a point a shoot push up your EV value to 1 or 2.

Balance is everything

Snow photos can look blue. The dreaded white balance settings rear their ugly head. The answer: Set your white balance to “daylight” – that should help whiten those whites. Another option is using a custom white balance setting – try using a Phottix White Balance Lens Cap and manually setting your white balance. Another tip: Shoot RAW. If you’re shooting as JPG you lose the ability to change your white balance settings in post production. If you’re using a point-and-shoot camera with a dedicated “Snow” mode you’ll be all set.

A hood on your jacket and on your lens

Use a lens hood on your camera lens. Snow is extremely reflective. On a bright day light will be reflecting in all directions – a lens hood will help cut down on lens flare and help improve contrast.

Take a spare

Cold weather can zap your batteries – make sure to keep a second (or third) cell in your pocket just in case. Don’t let the weather get the best of you.

Stay warm

Shooting photos with frost-bitten fingers is not fun. Stay warm when shooting outdoors, dress in layers appropriate to the temperature. Wear gloves that will allow to you change camera settings without taking the gloves off.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Andrea Costa Photography

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