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Trick Shots: Snow
Trick Shots: Snow
Jump in to winter photo opportunities with these tips
Taking pictures in the snow is cool, literally and figuratively speaking, but snow scenes present certain photographic challenges. First, all that white can fool a camera's exposure meter into thinking that the scene is brighter than it actually is, therefore setting the camera for an underexposed picture. The remedy: Set your exposure compensation dial to +1. The increase should give you a better exposure, which, of course, you can fine-tune further with exposure compensation and in the digital darkroom.
Second, on overcast days, you have the challenge of low contrast. When you're out shooting, keep in mind that you probably want to increase the contrast of an image in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Be careful, though—increase the contrast too much, and the bright parts of the snow will be washed out.
Unless you're looking for a dreamy, soft picture, most likely you'll want to increase the sharpness of an image as well. Be careful about oversharpening, which can make a picture look pixelated. Keep in mind that RAW files need more sharpening than JPEG files.
Both of these pictures—the polar bear that I photographed in the sub-Arctic and my son, who I photographed in our backyard—were enhanced in Photoshop using the aforementioned techniques. I lead off this article with these photos to illustrate that you can use all of the following techniques no matter where you're photographing in the snow—close to home or far away.
Okay! Let's chill out and check out some more tips.
Pack A Polarizing Filter
When the sun is shining, you do not—I repeat—do not want to go out on a snow shoot without a polarizing filter. A polarizing filter can continuously vary the amount of polarized light that passes through it. In doing so, it can darken a blue sky and make white clouds appear whiter and, most important in snow shooting, reduce glare on snow and ice. Finally, a polarizing filter can help you "see" through water by reducing reflections on the surface of the water.
A polarizing filter is most effective when the sun is off to your left or right. It's ineffective when you're shooting toward or away from the sun. When using a polarizing filter, remove your skylight or haze filter if you typically leave one on your lens. That will help prevent vignetting, especially when using wide-angle lenses.
I used a circular polarizing filter for both of these pictures, taken in Antarctica.
Dress For Success
Dressing for successful photography helped me get a photograph of an ice field in Antarctica. I was wearing knee-high, waterproof boots. I was also dressed in a warm parka and wore Windstopper® gloves to keep my "trigger finger" relatively warm.
Had I been cold and miserable, I would have been in a bad mood and perhaps not have been inspired to take the picture, perhaps my favorite, from...
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