Capturing a snowy landscape could be a regular occurrence for many photographers, but it could also be a once in a life time opportunity for others. Either way, when the snow falls you’ll want to be ready, as delving into the world of snow photography can be tricky!
From choosing your warmest coat to managing the white balance of your frame, shooting in the snow can seem daunting and maybe even exhausting. But fear not! These 9 handy tips are designed to make snow photography slightly easier, more manageable and, most importantly, enjoyable.
Before we can even start thinking about getting out there and shooting, there has to be a certain amount of preparation.
Snowy conditions should be taken seriously. It can be wet, cold and sometimes dangerous. Make sure you’ve layered up with a thick coat and jumper, grabbed that matching glove and scarf combo you got for Christmas, and put on some sensible walking boots.
Now you’re wrapped up, it’s time to think about camera preparation. Shooting in wet weather conditions can cause some problems for your photography equipment. A Rainsleeve is great for keeping out moisture, as well as a weather proof carrying case. Also avoid changing lenses when you’re out shooting to minimise risk of condensation being trapped in the camera body.
Remember, batteries will weaken in cold weather conditions too. So be sure to take a spare!
Shooting Snow Photography
1. Plan your shoot:
How do you want to capture the snow and what sort of image are you going to create? Did you want to get up early and capture a golden sunrise bouncing off the untouched snowy surface? If so, then make sure you’re up and out before anyone can disturb the snow with footprints. Will you be creating a Long exposure of the falling snow? If so, then make sure you have the right equipment and camera settings in mind. For more, check out our article 10 Long Exposure Photography Tips.
2. Protect your equipment:
We may have touched on this during our preparation, but there are many ways to keep your equipment safe when practicing snow photography. Use a clear UV Filter on your lens at all times to avoid a moisture build up. Have a Microfibre Cleaning Cloth at the ready to wipe away snow particles. And always use a Lens Snap Cap when you’re not shooting.
3. Shoot in RAW:
Capturing a white reflective scene can be very tricky, especially when it comes to achieving the correct exposure and temperature of the image. By shooting in a RAW format you open up the possibility of safely post-editing your shots without limits. This can be great when it comes to adjusting white balance.
4. Stay in focus:
As Auto Focus needs contract to focus, you may find it difficult to lock on when framing a white image. Although it may be best to shoot in manual focus mode, you can overcome most auto focus problems by focusing on something dark in the scene, such as a tree branch.
5. Use the exposure compensation dial:
By default your camera’s metering system is standardised for middle grey, which is great for a range of scenes you may encounter, but not for a bright snowy day. If you’re not confident shooting in aperture mode, the best way to stop your camera from making the snow look grey is to adjust the exposure compensation dial. By setting your exposure compensation to +1 or +2, more light will be let into the scene keeping the snow looking white.
6. Getting the right white balance:
Achieving the right white balance in snow photography can be tough. As snow will register on the blue, “cooler”, side of the white balance spectrum we are looking to add a little “warmth” to our final scene. By shooting in RAW, this can all be possible in the post edit process. But if you prefer to get everything right in-camera, simply use the “flash” setting. This will compensate for flash lighting and warm up the image.
7. Avoid shooting with flash:
It could seem like a clever idea to brighten your white scene with the use of a flash. But we recommend you avoid this as the extra light can bounce off the snow and cause overexposure.
8. Use a Petal Hood:
To help avoid lens flare, as a result of the highly reflective white snow, you’ll want to grab a Petal Lens Hood. A lens hood will also keep snowflakes away from the front of the lens, making it a very handy accessory if you’re shooting as the snow if falling!
9. Shoot fast:
And finally, make sure you act fast. Snow can change form very quickly and disrupt that perfect shot. It can be falling at an incredible rate one moment, and melting under the sun the next.