Let It Snow
For this winter assignment, your brief is to experiment with the challenges and creative possibilities presented by snow. Snowfall can simplify the landscape, reducing it to a series of photogenic shapes, while disguising artificial objects or hiding ugly features. Virgin snow and hoar frost clinging to every branch and twig can create magical conditions. Depending on where you live, cold spells can either be guaranteed or brief. Either way, you need to be prepared to make the most of the conditions. Always dress appropriately for the weather-if you get cold, the desire to get warm and comfortable will overtake the urge to be creative.
The best snowy landscapes are typically when the powder is fresh and untouched. If snow is forecast overnight, get up early and capture images that are free from human footprints. Think carefully about where you tread, being careful not to step anywhere you might later want to photograph. Tracks, pathways, and roads can act as useful lead-in lines in wintry landscapes.
Capture a range of images. Snow lends itself to black-and-white conversion, or you could include a walker wearing brightly colored clothing to introduce a splash of color and add interest and context. Snow also reflects natural light and color in the sky-so, for truly magical snowy images, shoot during the golden hours of sunlight.
Pro Tip: Exposure
Being reflective and white, snow can confuse camera metering systems into underexposing. This will make your snowy images appear dark and dull. to compensate, increase the exposure by +1 EV.
Use your camera’s histogram to help you judge exposure. Histograms provide a tonal representation of a scene, so then shooting bright snow, graphs will naturally, be bunched to the right. However, the histogram must not be overflowing off the far right of the graph – this would mean overexposure and clipped highlights.
View the images
- Auto White Balance can render snow with a blue color cast. This can be attractive and enhance the feeling of coldness, but if it’s undesirable switch to your camera’s Daylight or Cloudy preset (see page 54), or adjust in post-processing.
- Warm clothing
- Rain cover
- Chamois leather or microfiber cloth
- Lens cloth and cleaning fluid
- When shooting in cold, adverse conditions, it is essential you dress appropriately. Wear good thermal base-layers and warm, waterproof, and windproof outer garments. Hat and gloves are important-your gloves should be thick enough to keep your fingers warm, but thin enough to allow you to operate your camera and adjust filters. Touchscreen or eTip gloves are a good option. Good walking boots are also a must-have.
- Always carry extra batteries, as cold temperatures reduce battery life. Condensation can be an issue too, so keep a lens cloth close to hand and gently wipe away any moisture before triggering the shutter.
- If you need to change the lens, make the switch as quickly as possible, and change the lens with the body facing downward to avoid snow entering the camera.