It can be really challenging to get great results when photographing snow. This is mainly caused by an environment with little contrast and a lot of light reflecting from all directions. In such an environment, it can be tricky for the camera to get correct exposures and white balance. Also the bad weather conditions can affect the performance of your gear. Following are some tips to help you in capturing the beauty of a snowy scene.
Accessories for snow photography:
When you are out on a cold day and in severe weather conditions, you need to take some precautions to protect your gear and yourself.
- Thin gloves: Some warm thin gloves can be really helpful when taking shots on a very cold day. So, wear gloves, that won’t limit you and that will help you in using all the functionalities of your camera easily, while providing you with the warmth you need.
- A camera Rain guard/ a lens hood/ a UV filter: These accessories will provide your gear with proper protection when shooting under rain or snow. The camera rain guard will cover the entire body of the camera and lens, and the Lens hood and UV filter will protect the glass element of the lens from any harm.
- A polarizing filter: A polarizing filter will get you great saturated colors, which you will need in a snowy environment. It can be very useful, especially when trying to capture the blue color of the sky along with the snow.
Snow and water Tambako the Jaguar
Getting the right exposure:
In a scene where white is predominant, and there is light being reflected from many directions, the camera will be fooled into considering that there is too much light and thus, it will underexpose the shot. This will get you snow with a grey color instead of white. So what you need to do is to compensate by setting your camera to overexpose the shot by one stop or two (depending on the situation) so that you can get purely white snow.
Setting the White Balance:
It’s not easy to get a correct white balance with the auto setting when taking shots of snow. In most cases you will get blue or yellow tones in the snow. In order to get the snow to look white, you will have to change the white balance setting to Sunny, if you are shooting under the sun, or to Cloudy, if you are shooting in shade. The best option is to set the white balance manually through telling the camera what to consider as white. This option is present in most digital cameras and allows you to use a reference image to set the white balance. You can also shoot in RAW which allows you to set the white balance properly in post processing.
Some Other tips
- Add some color. With the environment being so white, a little touch of color can produce an amazing effect by providing the photo with contrast and an eye catching element.
- Get a spare Battery. Cold weather drains battery power real fast. So, it’s wise to get a second battery to be able to carry on shooting once the first one dies. Consider hiding the spare battery in an inner pocket, near your body, in order to keep it in a warm environment.
- Try to capture different aspects of snow. White color isn’t the only asset of snow. You can get amazing shots if you pay attention to certain details such as the texture of the snow, or the shapes and patterns which it forms when covering different elements.
Here are some examples of snow photography, to inspire you.
Snowbow by Jenny Downing
Snowy Waterfall by Stuck in Customs
The Icy Pit to Hell by Stuck in Customs
Les Skieurs Arrivent by Simpologist
Snow “Explore”by D2k6.es