It’s winter and with winter comes snow. Snow-covered landscapes are extremely beautiful, but it can be tricky replicating with our cameras what our eyes see. Follow these tips, courtesy of Dan Landau— photographer and Fairleigh Dickinson University PR assistant — and take your snow photos to the next level:
Time of day
There are two optimal times each day for photographing snow. The first is in the morning, before the snow is trampled, and the second is in the late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky.
In the morning (think, before 10 a.m.), the sun will typically be shining, but will not have warmed up enough to melt the snow still on the tree branches. Also, the snow will be perfectly smooth and beautiful. In the late afternoon (after 3 or 4 p.m.), the sun will be low in the sky and will highlight the snow’s gentle contours and textures.
Noon is the least optimal time because the sun is at its apex and the light it creates at that time is very bright and will likely result in photos where the snow is completely washed out.
Setting up your camera
If your camera has a snow or beach mode, use that and you’re all set. These modes are designed to capture bright, sun-drenched scenes and will keep the snow in the photo from turning out gray. If you don’t have either of these camera modes, you will need to find a way to slightly over-expose your photo. You can accomplish this through experimenting with the shutter speed in the manual or shutter-priority modes (usually called “M” and “S,” respectively).
Add some color
A snow-covered landscape is beautiful, but to add some interested to your monochromatic scene, add a splash of color to the photo. Try to shoot something with color, such as a window glowing with warm yellow light, or if photographing a person, have your subject wear a colorful scarf.
Take care not to shoot into the sun. If you do, the sun can reflect off of the snow in front of you, resulting in a very bright spot in your photo. Just as bad, are lens flares. Instead directly in front of you, it is much better to have the sun to the side.
Electronics and cold weather are not always on friendly terms. Cold temperatures drain batteries quickly, so make sure bring back ups and keep them in your pocket for warmth.
When the snow is falling
To photograph snow while it is falling, try not to use your camera’s flash. The flash will overexpose the flakes falling within a few feet of your camera, making blindingly bright specks all over the photo. Instead, if you need more light, try using your camera’s night or low light modes (or try making adjustments to the shutter speed or aperture using the manual, shutter-priority, or aperture-priority modes).
After you’ve taken your photos, don’t forget to enjoy the snow yourself and have a snowball fight or make a snowman!