Let It Snow! 4 Tips For Super Snow Photos
Oh, the weather outside is frightful. But photographing snow is so delightful!
It’s especially delightful when you know how to make the most of that sparkling, snow-covered landscape.
Check out our four tips for taking brrr-eautiful snow photos, and in no time you’ll be running around and enjoying the cold stuff as much as the sledders and snow-angel-makers.
We guarantee that the gorgeous winter shots you’re going to get are worth leaving the comfort of your heated blanket. (And hey, that blanket will still be waiting for you when you get home!)
1. Perfecting Your Exposure
Fresh snow is extremely white (and oh-so-pretty) and acts as a reflector when the light hits it. This means that when the sun’s out, a ground covered in snow can can be super duper blindingly bright!
This also means that properly exposing your shot can be more than a tad tricky. But we’re here to help! First things first:
When your camera’s in auto-mode, the light metering system will see all that bright snow and underexpose the scene. When this happens, slow your shutter speed or “open” your aperture (by lowering the F/stop number) to let in more light. If your camera has an exposure compensation meter, you can raise it to +1 or +2 to help brighten up your shot as well.
If you’re shooting manually and want to capture the texture of the snow, be careful not to overexpose your shot. Otherwise you’ll lose the texture and end up with snow that looks blown out and garish. It might be easier to get an underexposed shot with your texture intact and then later brighten it up during editing.
On your iPhone you can adjust the exposure by tapping the screen once to set the focus then sliding your finger up and down. Try it!
2. Use the Flash
There are lots of benefits to using your camera’s flash outdoors during the day. This is especially true when you’re in the middle of photographing a scene during snowfall and want to add a little extra sparkle to your shots.
When you use your flash the light will catch some of the falling snowflakes closest to your camera and give your shot some twinkle. If your main subject (like the building in the shot on the right) is far enough away, it won’t be affected by the flash and will provide a nice contrast to the flash-induced glitz in the foreground.
Bonus! Using the flash during snowfall at night makes for some seriously pretty shots as well! Zoom out, point your camera toward the sky, and shoot!
3. An Awesome Reflector
As we mentioned earlier, snow bounces light which means it acts as a big ol’ reflector! This can be extremely helpful, especially when you’re outside shooting portraits (because reflectors help get rid of pesky shadows caused by side or backlighting).
So imagine patches of snow as little reflectors and have your subject stand on or around them in whichever way is most appropriate–for example, if the sun is behind your subject, have them stand in between the light and snow patch. The photo on the right was taken as the sun set behind the model, and her face is lit only by a large patch of snow in front of her. Cool, huh?
Bonus! A great time of day for snow portraits is during the “golden hours” (sunrise and sunset) because the sun will be low enough in the sky to reflect off the snow without being too intense.
4. Focus on the Flakes
Focusing on falling snowflakes while leaving your background blurry makes for some truly magical shots and really helps the viewer feel like they’re right in the middle of it all.
Since your camera’s auto-focus will have a difficult time knowing what to hone in on while the snowflakes are falling and swirling around, manual focus will be your best friend. It gives you all of the power to decide which snowflakes you want to keep sharp in your shot, whether near or farther away.
Keep In Mind! Faster shutter speeds will work best if you wish to capture the snow mid-fall. Slower shutter speeds will give fast-falling snow a more streaked look (which is also cool if that’s what you’re looking for!).
Hold your phone a few inches away from any ol’ thing and tap the screen to set and lock the focus. Then point into the distance to snap some seriously surreal-looking snowflake pics.
Taking it further
- Keep your camera safe. Cold weather can be harmful to your camera if you don’t take the proper precautions, so check out some helpful tips and keep your equipment safe after snow shoots.
- Bring spare batteries. Battery power depletes faster in cold weather, so make sure to bring a spare or two.
- Take care of yourself. Dress warmly and watch your step, especially if you’re around icy areas. Don’t sacrifice your safety for a shot!