You may have heard the term “18% gray”, a middle shade of gray that reflects 18% of the light striking it. This has been a universal reference point in photographic exposure meters for decades. Setting your camera’s white balance to the Cloudy/Shade setting will whiten the snow and avoid turning your photo to gray color. If the subject is too dark against the snow try +1 don’t worry if the snow overexposes a little, it can add to its look and stop everything from looking too grey.
One of the best things about photographing snow is the effulgent light it engenders, to achieve sharper image use fast shutter speed. Utilizing an expeditious shutter speed allows you to capture moving action, like snowball fight, and capturing falling snow, without it being blurry. You can also utilize a more gradual shutter speed to blur the kineticism of the snow. This can engender genuinely fascinating “streaking” effect in your photos.
Contrast and Colour
Using a polarizer filter will increase the shadows and contrast in your highlights. It also deepens the blues in the sky on a sunny day. If your camera has “snow scene” setting it can help. If you want the shot with the crystal blue sky then wait until the sky clears. If the sun refuses to come out and you are photographing a person wearing a white dress, add color such as scarf or something with bright red or green to offset the white background. However, lack of color can also cause an issue what’s called white balance. Remember this, the lower the number (in degrees Kelvin), the bluer or more “cool” a scene will look, the higher the number the more yellow or “warm” it will appear. It can be awkward to mess around with, but getting the right balance where the snow is as close to white as possible pays off in the final shot.
Snowy scenes can look perfect when you’re there, but very bland in the photos that you take. Experiment and have fun. There are possibilities out there – cross processing, cool tone, vintage-inspired processing, hight contrast, sepia, high contrast color, black and white, you name it, don’t be afraid to try something new. HDR is perfect if the snow scenery is lack of texture, deep shadows and bright whites.
Bundle up with warm clothing. Camera lenses can also steam up and get foggy so bring microfibre lens cloth, tissues and the like won’t cut it.
If you forget to bring your tripod, build a tripod out of snow rather than a snowman. 😉
These are just basic tips shooting in the snow. Not bad from a rookie.
Any experienced snow photographers out there would like to share some tips? Comments below.