That’s it! Winter is definitely here. And for the occasion, France has got out its most beautiful white dress. Even though some people may grumble because of all the inconveniences it brings, we cannot help but be amazed. From the smartphone to the SLR everyone gets involved with their little cameras. Nevertheless, successfully taking snapshots in the snow is not as easy as it may initially seem. So we have decided to share some tips for getting perfect snow pictures.
A dead grey... Be careful with exposure
Exposure is the amount of light that the camera will be exposed to. This is one of the most important elements of the photo, if not the most important. Images lose their details in the darkest areas due to underexposure, but also in the lightest areas due to overexposure. Choosing the right setting is essential to get a good shot. Most devices have an automatic mode that will self-adjust this setting. Only the white glare of snow can mislead the measuring cell into error. To compensate for the excess of light tones, the camera will tend to underexpose the image. The result? Grey snow.
To remedy this, you must set your device using the exposure compensation tool. For most models, the exposure compensation can be adjusted in 1/3 EV increments. Then adjust it little by little, until you get the result you’re looking for.
If you are qualified enough, you could also switch your camera to manual mode and play around with the aperture or shutter speed to work around the problem.
Lastly, if you are used to shooting in RAW format, you can easily remedy the underexposure in post-production on a retouching software.
Remember to sort out the white balance
Another thing to take into account when taking pictures in the snow is the white balance. The large white spaces of an image often tend to take on the hue of the surrounding colour. We then find ourselves with a snow that’s no longer grey, but blue or orange depending on the weather. If you want to get white snow, you must first neutralise the dominant colours. This requires meticulous adjustment of the white balance. That being said, you don’t need to neutralise the dominant colours. All you have to do is find the right balance to replicate the atmosphere you want to convey. Moreover, if you want to be controversial, feel free to bring out your polarising filters!
Lastly, once again you are welcome to shoot in RAW format and set the white balance warm at home.
To capture the snowflakes, be sure to set the shutter
Capturing falling snow is the guarantee of a successful photo. To prevent the flakes from appearing in fuzzy lines, you must shorten the shutter speed. The shutter is what controls the amount of light that enters the camera. The shutter speed will therefore be the period of time during which the lens is exposed to light. A short exposure time is recommended to capture a subject that is moving. To get round flakes, you will need to opt for a high enough shutter speed to fix them in flight. On the other hand, if the aim is to capture the snowfall, it’s enough to extend the exposure time to capture the movement.
*Pro tip : learn how to take stylish photos with your smartphone.
Take care of your equipment
Winter is not the ideal time of year when it comes to equipment. The cold can cause malfunctions and wear out the battery. In these conditions, it is important to pay particular attention to your apparatus. You need to keep it warm in your bag when you're not using it. Once out, however, it’s best to avoid dramatic temperature changes. Condensation may appear in the lens and the electronics in general don’t like temperature fluctuation! Similarly, when your camera is on the battery heats up, so to preserve it, we advise not turning the camera on and off unintentionally. (Feel free to bring backup batteries, just in case). You’ll need to pay particular attention to the humidity.
And there you go, you now have everything you need to know about taking photos of the snow. You are ready to brave the cold and freeze the magic of winter. But if you want to go further, you can always take inspiration from the participants of the festival "Mountain Scene".
And while you’re here, why not check out our photo tips to easily create beautiful effects.