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How To Take Photographs Of Snow Scenes

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Category: Landscape and Travel

More Snow Photography Tips - Mark Elliott of Better Photos shares his basic tips on shooting in the snow.

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Mark Elliott is a Cumbria based portrait and commercial photographer. He also runs Better Photos Photography Training.

Snow scenes are very picturesque. They make excellent additions to your landscape portfolio but they can be tricky to photograph. Here are some tips to help you take better snow scene photos and make your time in the chilly outdoors more enjoyable.

Snow Scene


Keep warm

Fingerless gloves, thick socks and a hat are essential pieces of kit when photographing in the outdoors in winter. A flask of hot tea or coffee and snacks will help keep you warm and keep up your energy levels; and when it comes to your main items of clothing, use the ‘onion principle’ – wear lots of layers.


Watch your battery life

Your camera battery drains more quickly in cold conditions. Make sure that you fully charge your battery before going outdoors and, if you are planning to stay outdoors for several hours, take a spare battery.

Condensation

Condensation on your lens can occur when you take your camera from a warm environment, such as your home or car, into a cold environment like the outdoors on a frosty morning. Allow your camera and lens to ‘acclimatise’ to the lower temperature. Take off your lens cap to let the condensation to clear naturally. Five or ten minutes is usually enough to do this.

Exposure


Problem: When your camera is faced with a bright scene, such as snow, it tends to underexpose the image. Snow looks grey, rather than white.

Solution: When shooting in Aperture Priority mode, use your EV (Exposure compensation) button to brighten your exposure. Start with an EV of +1 stop and assess your images. Increase your EV compensation until the snow looks white but still retains texture and detail. Have your Highlight Warning set to warn you of blown out highlights, which are shown as flashing 'blinkies' on your camera LCD when you review your photos (when you have highlight alert warning enabled). Reduce your EV compensation until the 'blinkies' disappear.


Colour Cast


Problem: Snow picks up colour cast from the surrounding light. Photos of snow taken in daylight often have a blue tinge. Your auto white balance is unlikely to correct this.

Solution: Use your Custom White Balance setting to remove this colour cast. It is easier than you think. Refer to your camera manual for instructions for your camera model. Using my camera, I simply point to a patch of snow that is the same brightness as the overall scene. I fill my frame with the snow patch and then use this as the basis for my custom white balance. This WB is then stored in my camera. I then change my WB setting to 'custom' and take my photos.

I hope these tips help you to take better photographs of snow scenes and enjoy your time outdoors in winter.

Mark Elliott is a Cumbria based portrait and commercial photographer. He also runs Better Photos Photography Training.






 
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Comments

oldblokeh
oldblokeh  2722 forum posts United Kingdom
28 Nov 2011 - 5:29 PM

"Condensation on your lens can occur when you take your camera from a warm environment, such as your home or car, into a cold environment like the outdoors on a frosty morning."

This is repeated every time, but that doesn't make it correct. Condensation will occur when you bring your camera from a cold environment into a warm one, NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND.

Condensation can form on your lens outside once it has cooled down, but it won't form while it is warmer than its surroundings.

Last Modified By oldblokeh at 28 Nov 2011 - 5:31 PM
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