The best of the Wintery weather conditions often come later on in the season, especially here in the UK. The next week or so will hopefully provide many photographers with the chance to capture those snowy scenes. So what’s the best way to achieve them?
I’m sure many will agree that snowy landscapes are amongst the trickiest things to photograph. Exposure is the common problem; temperature is usually a close second! If your camera has a snow or winter setting then this will help override the auto white balance and lower the exposure, so you are already set to go. But if your camera doesn’t have these functions, then you might find these tips handy:
1.Before you head out, check your equipment. The white skies that often accompany a snowy scene are the most likely out of any shot you’ll take, to show up the dirt on your lens. Give it a good clean beforehand or you’ll be spending a long time with the spot healing tool in Photoshop afterwards!
2.If you are presented with a cloudy day, then have a look through your white balance settings and select the cloudy function. It’s as simple as that! However you will need to look at your exposure settings and if you’re comfortable spot-metering then use this to gauge your levels.
3. Shooting at night can often portray snow in a completely different way. Setting your white balance to ‘Tungsten’ will help get the best out of this situation and of course don’t forget to use a tripod to steady your shots with the low light.
4. Shooting sunny snow scenes is often a lot easier and more alluring to the eye. If you’ve got a fantastically blue sky against crisp snow then it’s doubly important that you set your white balance accurately. Use the Manual or Custom Modes and point at a clean patch of snow to set the balance of colours needed. Try and avoid focusing on shadowy areas or bits within your frame that are overly bright. This can lead to poor exposure for both sky and snow, spend some time picking the most neutral part.
5.Check out the Golden Hours – not familiar with these? Then you should be! They will quite honestly improve your Photography. Knowing the best times of day to shoot at is paramount to capturing that excellent shot. For snow, the time when the sun is lowest on the horizon is the best time of day to capture a beautiful landscape.
6.Try and find something to highlight in your image. Whether this is a tree, an animal, a building – whatever you can find will help to distinguish the layers of snow in your shot and if you’re shooting on a cloudy day – this tip will come in useful.
7.Finally, protecting yourself from the cold is vital. But what about the camera? The lens can fog up, batteries lose power a lot more quickly (no it’s not a myth!) and condensation can form in the most awkward of places. Keep the batteries in your pocket where possible, and have spares available. If there is a lot of moisture in the air consider using a plastic bag to protect your camera, or better yet – invest in a raincoat for the camera. They’re cheap and you could probably make one yourself. Most importantly, if you’re shooting in extreme temperatures – whether hot or cold – check your camera warranty and what it covers. Without realising you could easily void it.
Don’t forget that if you manage to get more creative and adventurous with your point of view and your settings, you could potentially disregard all of the above and capture something completely random that turns out wonderful!