How to photograph snow: In the midst of winter holidays, here are all our tips to make your shots even under the snow.
In this cold period, it is time to take a look at the particularities of winter photography, especially in the snow.
Those who have already tried it know that the exercise is more complicated than it seems, especially to capture a beautiful immaculate white. So How to photograph snow
How to photograph snow?
Master the exhibition
As always in photography, mastering the exhibition is essential to make a good photo, but even more with the snow that tends to deceive the cell measuring exposure of your camera.
Indeed, the latter seeks to obtain a predetermined average exposure (neutral gray 18%) on the photo and will therefore under-expose the bright white snow that will become gray.
To fully understand this phenomenon, you need to understand the operation of the exposure metering system of your camera.
During the measurement, the camera is not aware that you are looking at photographing a snowy landscape, it makes a moderate measurement of ambient brightness and suggests an exposure that seems to be theoretically the most balanced.
The problem is that for this kind of photo, between the snow that covers the landscape and the sky generally veiled, most of your photo can be composed of light tones, even very clear and lack of contrast.
To balance your photo, your box will then offer to underexpose to balance the tones and get a more neutral brightness and therefore this effect of gray snow.
This is not your case that has a problem, technically it did its job well and it works with 98% of the photos, but not for the snow.
So we’ll have to help him a bit on this one.
If you are shooting in Auto or Semi Auto mode, the easiest way is to use your camera’s Exposure Compensation button to force it to increase exposure, for example, +1 EV.
In fact, the device will measure and then increase it by 1 EV (it overexposes and whitens the snow that was gray).
An alternative is to change the brightness measurement mode to prefer the “Spot” measurement mode or the “Center-weighted” measurement mode to the “Matrix” measurement mode.
The latter measures the brightness of almost the entire scene, while the other two measure a limited area around the focus point.
It is then enough to measure in a zone of average brightness, slightly in the shade, then to memorize the proposed exposure by means of the key of memorization (AE-L) before to reframe if necessary.
Last solution, you can memorize the speed / opening torque thus measured and use it in “Manual” mode.
This solution is more flexible to refine your settings and find the fairest exposure.
It will surely fumble a little at first, but you will quickly find the perfect setting and adjust throughout your photo session. How to photograph snow
The white balance
White balance is the other big problem of snow photography.
In automatic mode, many cameras do not know how to correctly adjust the white balance.
As for the brightness, the snow is impregnated with the ambient brightness.
However, light is only a spectrum of colors with dominants that vary according to its temperature (blue to yellow and green to magenta).
If our eye (our brain actually) is able to interpret correctly and always see white in white, this is not the case of the camera sensor.
This is why, under the cold light of a cloudy sky, the snow may tend to appear bluish in your photos or, conversely, rather yellowish under a bright sun.
So if you want to get a bright white snow, one of the solutions will be to adjust your
white balance directly on your box without using the automatic mode; either by using
one of the predefined parameters, which offers the advantage of giving you a setting of
a good theoretical correspondence in a short time, but with all the imperfection of a
general parameter to a particular scene; either by setting your white balance manually,
provided you still know a minimum of color temperature and its nuances, or you will
spend a lot of time to find an appropriate setting in post-processing to make up for errors ; or using the white balance calibration, a mode that requires you to shoot a
perfectly white object (which is not lacking in a snowy landscape) to establish the right balance.
How to photograph snow: Now that you have the keys in hand to perfectly adjust your case, remains to speak your creativity.
The shutter speed is the first lever on which to play to freeze or not snow falling and thus create different moods.
If you are shooting in “Semi Auto” mode, use the “Shutter Priority” mode to play the shutter speed.
If you want to reinforce the snowstorm appearance and therefore show the movement of the flakes, you will have to choose a slow speed; 1/60 s is usually a good starting point.
Be careful however to the blur to move.
On the contrary, if you want to freeze the flakes in their fall and show their round shape, then it will be necessary to opt for a fast shutter speed; 1/250 s is also a good starting point.
Play with contrasts
If the whiteness of the landscape contributes strongly to the beauty of snow photos, it is above all the game of contrasts that makes this type of photo magical.
Even if there is no absolute rule, the strongest renders are obtained through the game of extremes.
You can then choose to play on strong contrasts by including warm colors in your composition – red being the most effective color for this kind of photo – or conversely play with lower color contrasts including gray , black or brown and cold colors to obtain very graphic compositions, at the crossroads between color photography and black and white.
Let your creativity speak !
How to photograph snow: Photographing the snow is good, it’s beautiful, but it’s rarely enough as the main subject.
It is only a support for a beautiful photo. It’s up to you to use it and to use it with different photographic techniques to bring out all your talent.
Take the opportunity to make portraits. In addition to an atypical setting, snow, by its light-reflecting power, can act as a natural reflector to obtain well-lit portraits with open shadows.
It’s also a good time to practice panoramic photography. How to photograph snow
Especially at the top of a snowy mountain. The extent of the landscape may be such that it is difficult to get everything into the frame.
Then opt for the panoramic. Pay attention to your exposure setting, it may be different between the first and the last picture; it’s up to you to find the happy medium.
“How to photograph snow”