One thing about photographing in snow is that snow is white! Your meter in your camera thinks it’s grey. Once you comprehend that one factor, you will have it made. Let’s go over the 5 steps in greater detail to get things right as you become a pro in “snow Photography”!
Snow means a lot of white, and white can trick the auto balance in your camera and lead to underexposed images. The metering system of your DSLR will try to expose white snow to middle gray. You want to overexpose your image to make sure white snow is, indeed, white. Be sure to constantly check and adjust your exposure.
Winter scenes are often meant to be calming and do not need too many colors or over editing. Stick with “winter colors” like whites, blues, and greens to keep your images simple. If you’re trying to evoke Christmas, then feel free to break out the red!
In the winter there is no need to limit yourself to shooting at sunset because the sun will stay much lower in the north and south and the days are often overcast. This makes a large majority of the day a viable option for photography.
Metering is how your camera determines the correct shutter speed and aperture based on the amount of light that goes into the camera. Most DSLRs are automatically set in matrix metering or evaluative metering mode, which divides the camera into zones to determine the correct exposure. In the snow, you don’t want to leave your camera in this mode because it will average the image and expose for grey. Instead, try spot metering the brightest part of the snow.
The best piece of advice for shooting in the winter is to be well protected from cold weather and dress warmly. If you’re not comfortable you cannot enjoy the photo and you won’t get a good memory. Be sure to dress warm and wear waterproof clothing.
If you plan to take to the snow, don’t forget to follow these easy tips. A warm outfit and special attention to your settings will go far and result in amazing shots for your holiday card, portfolio, or Instagram.
About the Author
Francesco Carucci from Dreamstime is a travel and landscape stock photographer outside of his daily desk job, spending most of his spare time chasing the light.