Lots of photographers have nightmares when they head out to dabble in snow photography, but it doesn’t need to be that way! Photographing portraits in snow just takes a few little tweaks (and things to be aware of) to create beautiful work that needs next to no editing (or a lot, if that’s how you vibe!).
The video on this topic is here:
I want to just note down the core things to be aware of here and they are:
1. Get your exposure right
White snow confuses the internal meters in the camera so if you’re using a semi auto setting like aperture priority or even just auto ISO, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your exposure and use exposure compensation to over compensate for the white.
One easy way to keep tabs on your exposure is to switch on highlight clipping when you review your images, and/or switch on the histogram view. The histogram will show you how far away your highlights are to being blown. You want them close, but not touching, the right hand side of the graph. Check out the video above for examples of good and too dark on the histogram!
You won’t always get this right (erm, hello – I am an example right here), but you can work to always protect the highlights and that way, you’ll usually be able to work out the rest if you get stuck!
2. Check your white balance
For some reason, snow really plays havoc with white balance. You can use a white balance card to get an accurate white balance, or you can use the snow as a walking (well, lying) white balance card. It’s a good idea to be “close” to correct in camera though, so try anything from 7000 cloud/shade kelvin to 9500 kelvin sunset/sunrise – somewhere around there should be great!
3. If it’s snowing, lock the focus on
A lot of questions come through about focussing in rain, sleet and snow. The answer is always the same – get some lock-on that focus!
In our action photography how-to, we covered how reducing the focus tracking lock-on settings to be more responsive. However, with snow coming in front of the lens, between you and the dog, you need a bit of a lock on the focus to hold on the dog and not refocus on every snowflake falling from the sky.
I totally forgot to do this when photographing Alf in the snow and my hit rate showed it!
I do go through this on screen in the video above!
4. Follow all of the normal steps for portrait brilliance
Pretty much as it says, check out the other portrait basics here and put it all together to create awesome work time and time again!
And that’s it! Here are a few photos of Peep to give you some inspiration of different editing styles from medium/heavy to very light: