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Snow Photography Tips

12 Best Snow Photography Tips

You’ve come to the perfect location if you want to take great snow photographs.

I like snow photoshoots and have been photographing them for many years. In this post, I give my top snow photography tips, including:

  • The most effective snow photography settings
  • When is the ideal time to go out for snow photos?
  • How to keep your photography equipment safe in the winter
  • How to Photograph Falling Snow for an Ethereal Effect
  • Images of snow that are magical
  • Much, much more!

So, if you’re ready to learn how to shoot beautiful snow shots, let’s get started with tip number one:

1. Emphasize contrast

Camera autofocus works by detecting contrast, thus if everything is white, your autofocus will have a difficult time obtaining focus, resulting in annoyance and perhaps wasted chances (imagine waiting while your lens hunts back and forth, back and forth).

Fortunately, there is an easy solution:

Change your camera’s AF mode to single-point. Then, place your main focal point over a high-contrast part of your snow picture. You may, for example, concentrate on the bark of a tree, some greenery peeking through the snow, or the roof of a home – anything that stands out against the white.

Then, halfway push your shutter button. If you’ve discovered a suitably contrasty section of the scene, the focus should lock — if it doesn’t, you’ll need to find a topic with even greater contrast.

Finally, while you recompose the photo, hold down the shutter button. Once you’ve achieved the ideal composition, click the button all the way to the bottom to capture your amazing snow shot!

It’s worth noting that if you’re attempting to picture a low-contrast image, such as a white home against a snowy backdrop, you may wish to abandon autofocus totally. Set your lens to manual focus, then slowly spin the focus ring until you get ideal sharpness. (For even better results, utilize your camera’s Live View mode to preview the image on the back LCD and zoom in at high magnification to check the focus.)

2. Select the appropriate camera settings for snow photography.

While particular snow photography settings may vary based on the light, circumstance, and aesthetic aims, I do have a few easy suggestions.

To begin, configure your camera to shoot in RAW; using the RAW file type gives you significantly more information to work with when editing. This allows you to restore clipped shadows and highlights (the latter are pretty common in snow photography, thanks to the brightness of the sun on snow).

I’d also recommend that you use the Evaluative metering setting on your camera, sometimes known as Matrix metering. In most cases, this will evaluate the entire scene to produce the optimum possible exposure (in fact, it’s what I used for all of the shots in this post!). If you’re having trouble getting proper exposure, you can always try Spot or Partial metering, but Evaluative metering is a nice place to start.

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Finally, you’ll need to add one or two stops of positive exposure compensation. Because of the idiosyncrasies of its meter, your camera will attempt to make the snow seem gray. To keep things bright, use exposure correction to compensate for the meter.

If you’re shooting in Manual mode, simply slow down the shutter speed by a stop or two to obtain the same effect. In that regard:

3. Use Aperture Priority or Manual mode to capture images.

In Aperture Priority mode, you may vary the aperture and ISO while your camera adjusts the shutter speed to obtain a decent exposure.

This is ideal for circumstances when the light changes often or when you’re going from topic to subject (like when photographing birds in flight). It’s particularly useful in cold weather because you simply need to turn a dial to adjust your aperture (and frozen fingers aren’t ideal for doing complicated operations!).

Furthermore, by adjusting the aperture, you may alter the depth of field for a variety of artistic effects.

You may also shoot in Manual mode if you choose. Manual mode isn’t great for fast-paced scenarios since you’ll need to alter all of your settings, not just the aperture and ISO. Manual mode, on the other hand, is an ideal alternative if you want total control over your camera settings and don’t mind working with chilly fingers.

4. Photograph snow while it is still new.

Here’s an easy concept for snow photography:

If you want to take amazing images, go out just after a fresh snowfall. The planet will be gleaming and spotless. You won’t have to bother with footprints, yellow snow, muck, or filth; instead, you can concentrate on taking breathtaking photos of your winter paradise.

However, if you want to avoid leaving footprints in the snow, you should plan the shots you’ll take and the sequence you’ll take them in. Otherwise, you risk trampling the snow during the photography process, jeopardizing your capacity to get future pure shots.

It’s worth noting that immaculate snow doesn’t remain long. Capturing new snow may also imply waking up early to photograph (before the kids! ), or watching the weather and getting outdoors just as the snow stops falling. Of course, if your schedule isn’t nearly as accommodating, that’s OK. Simply take your camera to a place where you know no one will bother you, such as a forest or a field.

5. Maintain the temperature of your batteries.

You can’t take pictures in the snow unless you have new batteries, and batteries don’t last long in cold weather.

Carry at least two, one of which should be kept in an inner pocket at all times. (Depending on the battery life of your camera, I’d even propose shooting with three or four batteries.) Third-party alternatives are available for a low cost online.)

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When your camera’s battery runs out, replace it with a warm one. Then put the depleted battery in your pocket; you might be able to use it again after it warms up.

6. When you come inside, put your camera in a bag.

What happens when you place a cold camera in a warm environment? Condensation forms on the lens and maybe even on the camera’s internals, which is – you got it! – not good.

Fortunately, it’s a simple problem to avoid.

Bring a big ziplock bag with you when you go out in the cold. I normally keep one in my camera bag or in the pocket of my jacket. When you’re ready to go inside, just fill the ziplock bag with chilly air, place your camera inside, and make sure the lock is secure.

Once inside, place your camera somewhere it can gently warm up. When the camera has reached room temperature, remove it from the bag and use it normally.

(If you wish to return to photography after a little respite in the house, you may safely take your bagged camera out in the cold, unzip the bag outdoors, and resume shooting.)

It’s important to note that you must bag your cold camera before entering any warm area, including stores, heated elevators, and a heated automobile.

7. Don’t be concerned about the weather

Snowy landscapes look great in both sunny and gloomy conditions, so don’t limit yourself to photography in a certain light. Simply learn to work with the lighting that is available to you.

When the sky is clouded, look for features like trees, grasses, or ice to break up the white snow and give interest to your images. Look for shadows cast by the brilliant sun while the weather is sunny (and if you shoot in the early morning or evening, do what you can to capture the warm light on the cold snow).

Also, if it’s snowing, protect your camera, especially if it’s wet and/or heavy. Consider wearing a rain cover or, if the wind is light, an umbrella.

While I don’t take my camera out in such cold weather, some do, and the results may be amazing.

8. Take action quickly.

Snow morphs swiftly. It may come to a halt in an instant. When the sun shines, the snow melts, and those lovely trees transform from sparkling to dull in an instant.

Keep an eye on the weather. Look out the window on a regular basis. Prepare your equipment.

And if you have a good idea for a snow photograph, or if you glance out the window and see great snow shooting prospects, don’t put it off. Capture some snow photographs while you still have the opportunity!

9. Take your time

This advice is related to the one before in that, while it’s vital to be prepared at all times, it’s also important to be patient, especially when dealing with fast-changing situations.

Snow, you see, may appear glittering, ethereal, three-dimensional, flat, and so much more depending on the light. Getting the correct appearance may sometimes be as simple as waiting for the light to shift.

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So, if the snow doesn’t appear quite right, examine the lighting. Is the sun hidden behind a cloud? Is the sun in the sky too low or too high?

Then, when the conditions are correct, take your shot.

10. Experiment with perspective

As with other types of photography, the composition is a key component of outstanding snow shots – so pay close attention to the elements you’re included in the frame, as well as your viewpoint.

Try dropping down low to shoot high for interesting snow images, like this:

You may also find a deck or a hill from which to shoot downward, demonstrating how the snow blankets the earth, weights everything down, and clings to everything.

And, with each photo you take, seek ways to improve the photograph. Walk to either side of your subject, think about other angles, come up close, walk far away, and even switch lenses. After all, who knows what beautiful photographs await you if you can just discover them?

11. Photograph falling snow with a fast shutter speed.

If it’s snowing and you want to capture the flakes as they fall to the ground, use a quick shutter speed. Experiment a little, because the ideal setting will depend on the speed of the snow – but I’d start around 1/100s or higher, then carefully check the images on your LCD to evaluate the effects.

Of course, snow likes to fall when the environment is dark and dismal, so even a 1/100s shutter speed may be difficult to accomplish, especially if the snow is thick or you’re shooting in the evening. Consider increasing your ISO or widening your aperture to get the required shutter speed.

Alternatively, embrace fuzzy snow; around 1/30s or thereabouts, the flakes will morph into long white streaks, which may produce a beautifully artistic image when done correctly.

12. Make some glitzy bokeh.

Because of the dazzling snow and ice, a sunny winter day is ideal for creating bokeh.

You see, when pinpricks of light — for example, light shining on snow – are rendered out of focus, they may produce stunning bokeh effects, such as this:

So here’s what you’re supposed to do:

To begin, seek a subject with something bright or sparkly in the backdrop. Light-reflecting off melting snow, lightly broken by tree branches, or light beaming through ice might all be used as a backdrop element. Set your camera to a wide-open aperture (f/2.8 or f/4), and leave some space between your subject and the gleaming backdrop.

Your subject will be in focus, but not the gleaming background components, thanks to the wide aperture.

When you press the shutter button, you’ll receive beautiful background bokeh!

Conclusion: some remarks on Snow Photography

Will you be out snapping photographs the next time it snows? I intend to do so, and I hope you will as well.

Have fun with your snow photos and try different settings for unique effects. Just remember to dress appropriately for the weather and bring your camera.

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