Snow Day Photo Tips
We all love to see the snow, even if it does cause havoc! A snow day makes for some great photo opportunities, but it can also make it difficult to capture the best shots.
Here are our five tips to help you take some great pictures, whether you just want to record the moment or your aiming for that perfect Holiday picture.
Photo Credit: Cool Progeny
There’s a good chance that your camera will be somewhat confounded by the snow, but many digital cameras offer a “snow” setting to make things easier. If that’s not the case on your camera, simply increase the exposure compensation on the camera. Don’t worry if the snow gets a little over exposed, as this will prevent the surroundings from looking grey – instead of the brilliant, gleaming white we all hope for.
Another option is to change the camera’s metering. By default most cameras are set to centre-weighted, because this is where they consider the majority of the scene will be – and set the exposure accordingly. There is usually a spot metering option, that will consider only the pinpoint centre of the shot and then base an exposure on this area. If that’s where your subject is, the exposure will be set accordingly and you probably won’t need to adjust the exposure compensation at all.
Photo Credit: Len Radin
Contrast & Colour
Wait until there are clear(ish) skies, and the snow stops falling, as shooting during a snowstorm will provide little to no contrast. If the sun is refusing to come out then it can help if your subjects are brightly dressed. Hats and Scarves are a great way of adding a dash of bright red or green into the picture to offset the white backdrop.
However, colour – or the lack of it – can also pose an issue with what’s called “white balance”. Your camera will be set to auto white balance (AWB) by default, but if you find shots are coming out too blue it’s because the white snow is confusing the camera. As in the previous tip, using a “snow” scene mode can help out, or if you’re feeling really adventurous go to manual white balance. The lower the balance – the bluer or “cooler” a scene will look, the higher the number the more yellow or “warm” it will appear. It can be difficult to get it right, but finding the perfect balance – where the snow is as close to white as possible – will pay off in the final shot.
Photo Credit: Stella
Point of View
Think about getting down to the level of your subject. Now, this is something you should consider whether you’re shooting in the snow or not – but it’s always worth being reminded. Shooting a snow covered Christmas tree by lying on the floor, will give you a sense that it’s far bigger, and more majestic, than it might actually be in real life. Likewise when it comes to shooting a snowball fight if you’re photographing kids – get low. If you’re feeling brave get them to throw snowballs at you just as you take the picture … but maybe check your camera will be able to handle it first!
At the other end of the scale getting up high for landscapes will enable your camera look down upon the subject – it will reveal more of what you’re looking at and look that much more professional. Choose a wide-angle zoom setting to open up the scene to be broader than the eye can see. But keep your wits about you – don’t go climbing up any precarious icy things to get the shot; it’s best to stay safe.
Photo Credit: Martin Sojka
All that reflective snow around means there will be plenty of light. Avoid shooting into the sun, as you’ll get lens flare – unless, of course, that’s what you’re aiming for! Also avoid your subject staring into the direction of the sun as they’ll end up squinting … and that’s not a great look.
Keep the sun at right-angles to your subject during morning and evening hours and at an acute angle from behind you when it’s high in the sky, for improved scene exposure. The best shots will generally be taken either early in the day or last thing as this is what’s called the “golden hour”, when the light is much warmer – therefore reducing the blue tint you might get from the snow at the brightest times of the day.
Photo Credit: Braces Harrogate
If you’re venturing out into the woods or city it might sound obvious or even silly to say, but wrap up warm. Take a blanket to lie on for those “get low” shots, gloves are an essential to avoid cold hands and wellies will keep your feet dry.
Also make sure you’ve got a full charge in your camera’s battery. Batteries don’t last as long when they’re cold so you’re likely not to get quite as many shots out of one. If you have a spare battery, take it with you and keep it in your pocket – or inside your jacket, to keep it as warm as possible before using. Camera lenses can also succumb to condensation, so they might steam up when removed from a warm bag. Subtle changes in temperature can cause the lens to fog up so sure you bring microfibre lens cloth, as tissues – or your coat sleeve! – just won’t work as well.
Another cool thing about shooting in the snow is that you can build a makeshift tripod out of that lovely white fluffy stuff, so at least that’s one less thing to lug around with you!