Inside: It’s winter time with a blanket of magical snow waiting for you to step outdoors and take stunning pictures in the snow. Learn what camera to use, aperture to set your dslr camera on and more.
Winter is easily my favorite season.
I love everything that it brings, the holidays, the crisp air, the early sunsets, and the magic of snow. I live in the Pacific Northwest at the base of Mt. Rainier. Though we don’t typically get 6 feet of snow, we do have our fair share of snow days off from school. And there’s no shortage of easy day trips where we can drive to 6 feet of snow.
This year we had our first official snow within the first few days of November and my kids were ecstatic. Who am I kidding?? I was ecstatic! I love to take pictures in the snow. The amazement in my kids eyes on that first snowfall of the year, the little red noses, and the way the evergreens looked dressed in white. It makes all those laundry baskets of cold wet clothes worth it! If you’ve never shot in snow, it can be tricky to get things just right, but with a few simple tips you’ll be documenting beautiful, snowy memories with your children and clients!
Camera Settings for Winter Photography
The most important, and probably hardest thing to master when shooting in the snow is EXPOSURE. If you’re shooting in the mountains, where there’s snow all over it will be like shooting with a big reflector everywhere. On the trees, on the ground, in the sky. I always underexpose while shooting in the snow. I like to be able to retain some of the detail in my scene and underexposing allows me to keep that detail while not washing out the faces of my subjects. I can bring up the shadows or exposure in my post production if need be, but allows me to still keep the snow looking like snow instead of just a big white blob. Here we have a step by step on how to edit snow pictures!
Another challenge to take in to consideration is WHITE BALANCE. When you have a scene where a good portion is all white you want to make sure that you really nail that white balance. Otherwise you will photographs that look like you have yellow tinted snow, or green tinted snow. I shoot in auto white balance and for the most part I don’t need to do a lot of post production white balance correcting, but depending on how you edit you may need to. In Lightroom it’s very easy to correct white balance with the dropper tool, just select your snow and go from there. Since you have such a large portion of white you should be able to easily correct any color issues easily. No one wants to have yellow snow.
How to Photograph Snow Falling
If you’re shooting during snow fall, and you want to capture those beautiful flakes I suggest shooting a higher shutter speed to catch as many snowflakes as you can in one shot. I also suggest shooting wide open with the focal point on your subject, this way you get that beautiful snowy bokeh, and make your background look creamier and snowier. I tend to always shoot wide open, my sweet spot is f2-2.5.
How to Take Pictures in the Snow
If you’re shooting in extreme cold you’ll want to be mindful of the potential for fogging in your lens and camera. When I shoot in the mountains it’s anywhere from negative 5 degrees to 30 degrees. We take lots of warmer up breaks after about 10 minutes of shooting and head back to our cars to get the feeling back in our toes. I leave my camera outside of my car when we do this so I don’t run the risk of my gear fogging up and malfunctioning from going from the extreme heat to the cold.
Snow Portrait Photography
There is really nothing better than seeing your kids faces during those snow days off from school. Their smiles, their belly laughs, and everything in between make freezing your toes off so worth it.
Bundle your kids up and document those beautiful portraits and moments in the snow.
Snow Photography Ideas
There are so many ways to get inspired with the snow.
- Take photographs of yourself in them, you were there too!
- Take photographs of your kids all bundled up with nothing but their noses and eyes peeking out.
- Take photographs of those moments after they come in enjoying hot chocolate warming up!
- Don’t be afraid to take photographs of your children watching the snow from the inside.
These days won’t last forever, cherish them, and document them so you will always remember!
If you want to really extend yourself – give a shot at taking pictures of snow at night! Kevin Adams has a great read on tips for night snow pictures.