10 Snow Photography Tips

by Paul Skidmore
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As winter approaches we are hopefully treated to snowfall – snow photographers get excited around this time. And we at Photo Shoot #Goals are excited to give you our favorite snow photography tips:

Whilst snow can cause travel problems, it also provides amazing photographic opportunities. Snow photography is extremely fun – we get to explore outdoors and play like children – how amazing? Furthermore, we get to try out different photographic techniques and capture a whole new landscape in our lens.

Tackling the cold winter weather and fresh snowfall presents a myriad of photographic challenges. This is a completely different landscape to what most people are used to experiencing. Consideration must be given to camera settings, composition, and equipment protection. Moreover, you must look for unique opportunities that only snow can present. If you want to be prepared for the winter snowfall, we have listed 10 snow photography tips below:

1. Protect spare equipment in bubble wrap

When venturing into a snowy landscape, always carry spare equipment. Camera batteries can quickly freeze and drain their power in cold climates. It is therefore important to protect any spare equipment you have. Bubble wrap is a cheap and simple item that can be used to insulate spare batteries and SD cards. Wrap the items in bubble wrap, and keep them in your pockets, or warm camera case.

2. Wear gloves that still offer control

Some cameras have touch screen LCD screens. Furthermore, cameras often have small buttons and dials. Trying to operate a camera with huge padded gloves can be a nightmare – you may press the wrong buttons or simply have no control. It is therefore important to try and use thin gloves that still keep your hands warm, but also give you the required dexterity to operate a DSLR camera.

3. Keep your camera at a constant temperature

Photographers often make the mistake of keeping their camera warm and insulated during cold conditions. This can actually cause the buildup of moisture; which in turn can cause electrical damage. Keep your camera exposed to the elements – this ensures that the temperature remains consistent. It should also prevent moisture damage. Only cover your camera up again once you are inside.

4. Manually change the white balance

Snowy landscapes are usually bright – sunshine can reflect on the snow and cause glare. Furthermore, the general exposure of these scenes is bright. To combat this, a DSLR camera may increase the white balance – this can cause snow to have a yellow tinge. To ensure snow photos look crisp, clean, and have the correct temperature, consider manually changing the white balance. This can be done in post-processing software afterward, but it is ideal to change manually whilst shooting.

5. Manually change the exposure

Building on the above point, snow photography often looks under-exposed. This is because your camera is striving for balance – it will analyze the bright snow, and manually reduce the exposure. This can result in photos appearing in grey and lifeless. Generally, you should increase the exposure of snow photos. This ensures that any snow in the photo appears white and bright as it should do. Increase the exposure by one or two stops and see what effect this has on the photo.

6. Your camera LCD display can be deceiving

Due to the aforementioned changes the camera automatically implements, what you see on the LCD screen is often inaccurate. Furthermore, glare from the sun or reflections from the snow can obscure your vision and cause the LCD screen to look darker than it is. When previewing your photos, try to shelter your vision and reduce any invasions from exterior light sources.

7. Look for changing lighting conditions

Lighting and shadows can change rapidly in snowy landscapes. The sun, for example, could break through clouds and cast the scene in beautiful rays. This could change the whole photodynamic. Look for opportunities with lighting. Furthermore, be patient and let the weather unfold before you – you could be presented with some epic snowy compositions. Watch how the light reflects on the snow and ice. It can create interesting patterns but also cause the snow to melt in unusual ways.

8. Act fast and seize opportunities

Whilst lighting changes quickly so does the snow and landscape itself. Snow and ice will eventually melt. This means that your compositions are continually changing. Imagine you have some snow resting on a holly branch – as the snow melts, it could fall off and the photo opportunity is gone. You must, therefore, act quickly and seize opportunities before they disappear. If you see a particularly interesting composition, don’t hesitate to photograph it – take the photo immediately!

9. Look for contrast within the snow

Landscapes laden with snow often have low contrast. You may only see a vast sea of white. Sometimes, this creates uninteresting photos without a focal point. It is therefore important to look for small details and contrasting objects. Animals walking through the snow, man-made objects like fences and walls, or even signs of natural life poking through the layers of snow. Concentrate on these small details and use them to give your snow photos a focal point.

10. Use different perspectives

It is tempting to photograph the same landscapes from a front-facing position. Photographers are often guilty of this. To create interesting photos in the snow, experiment with perspective and angles. Look for unique angles that create unusual compositions. Get down low, get close to objects, climb higher up – move around and explore the snowy scenes to create varied photos.

Put aside your fears and expand your photographic repertoire today – if snow has fallen, what are you waiting for? Wrap up in warm clothing, prepare your equipment, and head out in search of beautiful snowy landscapes. You can use the above 10 snow photography tips to improve your compositions and take some gorgeous shots of the winter wonderlands you encounter – good luck!

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