In the snow, you want to maximize the detail. This can be difficult because there so is often too much white to deal with. If you over expose too much, you will wash out details. On the flip side, if you under expose the image will be too dark. The beauty of digital is that you know right away if the image is turning out how you like. Shoot in manual mode and over expose about a half an f/stop. Make use of your histogram also, it will show you the tonal range of your photograph and will will allow you to get your exposure just right.
2. Set White Balance
Often when we shoot we just leave our white balance in auto. This works great in the summer and it’s the middle of the day but not so good in the winter and there is white snow everywhere. Often if left in AWB you will find yourself with a blue hue to your photos that can be distracting and unappealing. Set your white balance using the custom white balance option on your camera using a grey card or custom white balance tool or do the guess and check method while using the Kelvin setting.
The winter landscape doesn’t have to be all white to tell its story. You’re job as the photographer is to tell a story. Look for subject matter that will add contrast and improve the story you want to tell.
4. Shoot RAW
RAW allows for you to make minor changes to exposure but great changes to white balance and contrast. By shooting in RAW you will have a safety net for those occasions where you might need some extra help to get the final product looking the way you want.
5. Early Light
Winter will almost always provide its share of color; you just have to seek it out. The golden hour of photography is even more important during the winter as you will get an explosion of color as the early and late light mixes with the pureness of the snow. Yes, it takes a little more motivation to get up and stay out but the result is simply fantastic and allows for amazing images.
6. Use A Polarizing Filter
Always keep a polarizing filter handy. Not only can it enrich colors and deepen the sky, but they also greatly reduce glare on the snow. Light will bounce off snow, much like it would off of the surface of water. This can be quite a beautiful effect, but it can be challenging to balance the brightness of the reflected light with the (usually backlit) background. This can lead to the reflected sunlight being over-exposed and the rest of your frame being under-exposed and washed-out. One way to prevent this is to use a polarizing filter on your lens, which will block out much of the glare, while retaining most of the light from other sources.
7. Go Out Just As the Storm Clears
Lets face it, going out in the winter sucks! Its cold, wet, and weather can change on a dime. Its during these changing times however that you will get the best images. The weather is clear and crisp. Fresh snow and rolling clouds over mountains are some of the best conditions we can hope for. When winter gets you down, go get out shooting! The cold will invigorate you and you’ll feel much better going home to warm up after getting great shots.
© 2015 – 2014, Tony. All rights reserved.