Photography Tips for Taking Pictures in the Snow

Snow is falling as my Basic Photography students are working on their first shooting assignment.  As I walked around the farm this morning to take pictures, I kept thinking about tips I wish I could share with them.

Photography Tip #1: Watch for the light!  As with all photography, interesting light can make any scene more interesting, a snowy, icy scene can be magical when the light shines just right!

 

Magic light on a snowy icy morning (Emily Naff)

Magic light on a snowy icy morning.

One of the first things to understand about shooting in the snow (or sand) is that your light meter will not necessarily give you the best exposure. If you notice your snow looks gray or dingy, you may want to slightly over expose the shot… not too much or you’ll lose important detail.  I usually find that 1/3 to 1/2 of a stop over exposure does the trick.

 

 

 (Emily Naff)

Look for contrast.  White or bright subjects will stand out more against a dark background.

These icy branches stand out against the dark background of the pine and cedar trees. (Emily Naff)

These icy branches stand out against the dark background of the pine and cedar trees.

Know that in the shade, you might might start to encounter a blue color shift.  Adjust your white balance settings if you don’t want it, or use it for creative effect

Zooming in for a tight shot allowed for a simple composition and contrast of the switchgrass and snow against the dark background. (Emily Naff)

Zooming in for a tight shot allowed for a simple composition and contrast of the switchgrass and snow against the dark background.

Use Manual Focus for more control.  Auto focus lenses are looking for areas of contrast to focus on. When the snow is falling it might have difficulty knowing what you want to focus on.  If you focus on the background, the snow flakes might not show up.  If you want the snow flakes to be sharp, switch to manual focus and pick a point closer to your camera to focus on.

In autofocus mode, the camera kept trying to focus on the trees in the background. Switching to manual mode allowed control of focus to make the falling snow sharp and to blur the trees in the background. (Emily Naff)

In autofocus mode, the camera kept trying to focus on the trees in the background. Switching to manual mode allowed control of focus to make the falling snow sharp and to blur the trees in the background.

Experiment with different shutter speeds.  Do you want to stop the falling snow, or have a little blur from the movement of the snow.  What shutter speed you want will depend on how fast the snow is falling.  Try a few different shutter speeds until you gee the desired effect… just remember to use a tripod or avoid shutter speeds that are too slow to hand hold. Really slow shutter speeds will make the falling snow disappear.

Snow covered pine branches against the backdrop of a hardwood forest. (Emily Naff)

Snow covered pine branches against the backdrop of vertical lines created by the hardwood forest in the distance.

One Response to “Photography Tips for Taking Pictures in the Snow”

  1. Don white says:

    Thanks for sharing the information and the fine photos!

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