Shooting Snow And Ice

Here are some top tips for heading out into the cold to shoot snow and ice.

05/12/2013 - 00:00

Snow graduated filter

Winter brings a new range of photo opportunities where familiar colourful scenes are suddenly covered in a blanket of snow. 

Temperature - Cameras are built to work within a specific temperature range and batteries have similar needs. Most UK weather won't cause any problems, but be aware that the batteries may not perform as well as they could.

Expose correctly - The main problem with snow is that its brilliant white and highly reflective tones fool the camera's metering system. When the subject is predominantly white, such as snow, the camera underexposes so that the white becomes grey. To avoid this, simply override the camera's automatic setting using the exposure compensation or by going to manual. If you set the exposure compensation to either plus 1 or 2 stops depending on the amount of snow in the picture your results will be much better. 

Include detail - With snow pictures you should try to include some areas of detail to avoid a complete wash of white. Use a telephoto lens to crop in on branches laden with snow to create lovely abstract patterns. 

Head out early - Winter mornings can provide great images. Go out before the sun melts the frozen dew. Spiders webs, icy blades of grass and frost covered berries are all great subjects to catch early in the morning.

Falling snow -  Try shooting while the snow is falling, but avoid flash. The light levels will be low and an automatic camera will think flash is needed. Switch it off because the flash will reflect off the nearby flakes making the picture full of large blurry blobs that distract.

Look after your Kit - Snow will quickly melt and the water could damage the electronics. This shouldn't be too much of a problem with the latest weather sealed Pentax DSLRs, but you could cover the camera with a rain cover. Screw a filter on the front of the lens if you're using an SLR to protect the element from drifting snow.

Related Photos


Link Posted 09/12/2013 - 20:32
Look after your kit: It will become as cold as the environment, this isn't a problem until you return indoors. The air in your home is (hopefully) warm, but it is also moist & the water will condense on your cold camera & lenses. So take a plastic bag with you & pop your gear into it on the doorstep, then leave for half an hour to acclimatise. (This is an old trick for which I can't take any credit.)


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