Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! Or maybe not. I thought for sure I would have had some snow on the ground by now but there’s not a flake to be seen! However, I am not going to let that stand in my way of sharing some of my best tips for photographing snow. In fact, these tips below aren’t just for shooting snow. A lot of them apply when shooting anything white!

There’s no denying it. There’s something about a fresh blanket of snow that makes everything and anything look beautiful!

5 Tips for Photographing Snow

5 tips for photographing snow

1. Metering: Metering properly is one of the biggest challenges when photographing snow. Your camera’s meter measures the light reflecting off of the subject in your frame. Those measurements are then used to determine the appropriate exposure settings {shutter speed, f/ stop, and ISO}. Universally, this system is designed to render subjects as middle gray or 18% gray. What does that mean? Simply, most cameras assume that everything reflects 18% of the light.

tips for photographing snow

When photographing snow, however, that is not the case. Because snow is so reflective, your camera will compensate by underexposing. This will make your snow pictures look dull and muddy. To avoid this, it’s best to take a reading of the snow directly and the compensate. For example, for clean, sunlit snow, add +3 stops to the light meter. Shooting snow on a cloudy day? Add +2 stops to the light meter. If it’s a gray day or your snow is getting dirty, use the exact meter reading.

2. Read your histogramReading your histogram will help you with your exposure and help you not “blow your whites”. Keep in mind that a properly exposed bright white scene will have a histogram that is more on the right.

tips for photographing snow read your histogram

3. Check your white balance. When shooting snow {or anything white in bright lighting}, you will notice there will be a blue hue to the white in your photographs. Your white balance is very important to avoid this. The higher amounts of UV rays reflected by the snow cause the blue hue. You can try out the different white balance settings your camera offers but you may find that you need to set a custom white balance. Color plays an important role in the feel of your photograph. If you’re looking to convey an icy cold feel, keep some of the blue tones.

4. Keep it simple.  You’ve heard the saying, “Less is more.” When photographing a winter scene, don’t try to get it all crammed into one frame. Look for interesting contrasts and pops of color.  Red objects, like berries {or in my case, a wagon} photographed against white snow always look very strong. Clean objects framed against a white background make for strong images and help tell your story.

tips for photographing snow

5. Keep your camera warm. When you are outside shooting in cold temperatures, you need to try and keep your camera warm. Cold weather drains your batteries. If you have extra batteries, make sure to keep them in your pocket so they stay warm. When I am taking a break from shooting, I slip my camera into my jacket to keep it nice and toasty! Also, if it’s below freezing, avoid breathing on your camera. You don’t want any condensation getting into your camera body!

This week your challenge is to capture snow {if you have it}. No snow like me? You don’t need snow for great winter scenes! A winter sky, a frosty morning, or bleak winter landscape offer some unique opportunities to capture what your winter looks like. Make sure you share your photographs on Facebook!

 

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