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The Best Ways to Become a Pro at Photographing in the Snow

Apr 24, 2003

Want to become a pro at photographing in the snow? Whether you want to capture the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland or create moments of your children building a snowman in the backyard, we have the tips you need to become a master of wintertime photography.

  • Photograph with the sun to your side to capture the best winter scenic. By doing so, you’ll create texture and add a dynamic layer to your image.
  • Turn off auto settings, even the snow scene mode. This helps eliminate the blue hue that snowy images can take on when a camera is in automatic. With the amount of white, your LCD likely won’t depict an accurate image of the captured scene, so do not pay particular attention to the LCD when viewing the image. Instead, try Matrix metering on a manual setting and check the histogram to view what the image will download as. Also, be sure to turn on your highlight indicator in order to make sure there are no blown highlights as in a snowy scene they would be almost impossible to recover.
  • If the sun is strong, you can handle light streaming in from behind by closing the eyepiece viewfinder. And because wintry images tend to overexpose easily, we suggest adjusting the white balance.
  • While the stark whiteness of snow is beautiful, pops of color add contrast and depth to your photograph. Look for warm tones that will add richness.
  • Rise with the birds to capture a fresh snowfall. The early morning is the best time to become a pro at photographing in the snow because the sun isn’t too high and hasn’t begun to melt the snow.

Here’s our example of photographing in the snow: This shot was taken on the Yampa River in northwest Colorado. The Yampa runs 250 miles from high in the Flat Top Mountains to its confluence with the Green River in Dinosaur National Park. Further downriver it flows into the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. The Yampa was named in 1843 by the explorer John C. Frémont after noticing a bounty in the watershed of the Perideridia plant commonly known as Cow’s Parsnip.

Award-winning photographers Jim & Lori Steinberg are pros at photographing in the snow. To learn to capture stunning photographs in the winter season and beyond, check out our workshops here and be sure to come back next week for more insider tips and tricks!

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