Win­ter is the time when every­thing changes and turns into fab­u­lous scenery. Snow-white land­scapes are inter­est­ing loca­tions for shoot­ing. But win­ter pho­tos do not always live up to expec­ta­tions.

What is the rea­son? Blame the snow. White, sparkling, clean back­ground eas­i­ly turns into dirt or merges with objects. Pho­tograph­ing snow is like shoot­ing white on white.

How to avoid mar­riage dur­ing pho­to shoots in win­ter? There are impor­tant rules for set­ting up a cam­era for out­door shoot­ing in win­ter, which not every­one knows about. We have col­lect­ed them for you in the arti­cle.

Snow-white, fluffy, sparkling snow. Who is he — friend or foe of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er? Pho­to: pexels.com

What problems does a photographer face in winter?

— Short day­light hours. Every­thing must be care­ful­ly planned in advance. All the impor­tant points on how to pre­pare for a pho­to shoot in the cold and take beau­ti­ful and sim­ple pho­tos in win­ter have been col­lect­ed in a sep­a­rate arti­cle.
— Light­ing. Insuf­fi­cient and low con­trast in cloudy weath­er. Or high con­trast on a bright sun­ny day.
– Need addi­tion­al pro­tec­tion for equip­ment (back­pack or cam­era bag, pro­tec­tive case, light fil­ter).

Exposure setting

The main ene­my of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er in win­ter is snow. It is easy to turn it into an unat­trac­tive gray mass.

Why? Auto­mat­ic expo­sure detec­tion gives an error, con­sid­er­ing some of the areas over­ex­posed, aver­ag­ing the tone. As a result, the snow turns gray, fad­ed.

What to do? Open your aper­ture more, or slow your shut­ter speed, or raise your ISO. Make expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion:

  • pos­i­tive by 1–1.5 steps (there is a lot of snow in the frame);
  • neg­a­tive by 0.5–1 stop (there is lit­tle white in the pic­ture).
Expo­si­tion exam­ple. Pho­to: pexels.com

The more snow in the frame, the eas­i­er it is to get a light­ed space instead of fluffy snow­drifts. Adjust expo­sure to avoid this.

Pay atten­tion to the his­togram. The light peak should be slight­ly to the left of the right bor­der. Pro­fes­sion­als rec­om­mend on clear days to fix the expo­sure in the sky, and on cloudy days — to adjust plus by 1 step.

Depth of field

In win­ter pho­tos, you want to see the tex­ture of a snowy land­scape, and not a smooth can­vas. Adjust­ing the depth of field is sim­ple — set the desired aper­ture. Aper­ture val­ues ​​F7.1 — F11 are suit­able for shoot­ing a win­ter land­scape.

Why? The sparkling snow sur­face acts as a reflec­tor. So in sun­ny weath­er, an excess of illu­mi­na­tion is obtained — both for the human eye and for the cam­era. And an open aper­ture is used in low light.

What to do? A small­er aper­ture (and/or faster shut­ter speed) is the best solu­tion on a bright, sun­ny day.

This pho­to has sound. Look­ing at it, you can hear the snow crunch­ing. Pho­to: pexels.com

white balance

When set­ting the cam­era on a sun­ny day, do not select Auto White Bal­ance.

Why? Yel­low­ish pho­tos are obtained, the snow is dirty.

What to do? Make pic­tures cold­er. Set the white bal­ance to warmer light. For exam­ple, in cloudy weath­er, select the mode “Day­light / Day­light” (about 5200K), and not “Cloudy / Cloudy” (about 6000K).

If you shoot in RAW or NEF, then you can reduce the tem­per­a­ture of the pho­to already in post-pro­cess­ing. But the more cor­rect­ly you set the cam­era set­tings, the eas­i­er it will be to work with the final mate­r­i­al.

An exam­ple of chang­ing the white bal­ance. Pho­to: pexels.com

Shooting in the snow

White snow on a light back­ground will be lost. If you want beau­ti­ful snow shots, choose a dark back­ground for snowflakes.

Fly­ing snow is pho­tographed in three ways:

  • at a short shut­ter speed — catch snowflakes in flight. Use if there is no strong wind and the snow is gen­tly falling on the sur­face. Expo­sure from 1/250 to 1/800. If the frame looks dark, raise the ISO val­ue;
  • at a slow shut­ter speed (for exam­ple, 1/60) — show the dynam­ics. The snowflakes will appear as white lines. In the evening, lanterns and gar­lands will beau­ti­ful­ly illu­mi­nate the com­po­si­tion;
  • with flash at any shut­ter speed — snowflakes will be fixed in front of the lens in the form of a beau­ti­ful bokeh. Set the cam­era to aper­ture pri­or­i­ty mode, set the expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion from +2 to +3, ISO 100. It is bet­ter to fix the cam­era on a tri­pod.
Long expo­sure pho­to of snow — snowflakes turned into long stripes. Pho­to: vashgorod.ru

Portrait photography

Beau­ti­ful win­ter pic­tures are not easy to make, but they look spec­tac­u­lar. A few tips:

  • por­trait shoot­ing is car­ried out in the morn­ing;
  • choose a not very sun­ny day. Oth­er­wise, the snow will blind the mod­el, because of the bright light there will be a strong con­trast — you will lose the beau­ty of the details;
  • Avoid flashy make­up. Enough 1–2 bright accents in the image.
Pho­tograph­ing white on white is not always a good idea. Not every mod­el is hap­py to blend into the snow like this lit­tle fox. There­fore, it is impor­tant to think over the whole image in advance (clothes, make­up, acces­sories). Pho­to: pixabay.com

Details about win­ter por­trai­ture were writ­ten in a sep­a­rate arti­cle.

Winter photos at night

In the dark, they shoot no less inter­est­ing shots than dur­ing the day. Impor­tant — find a place that is well lit. Lanterns, shop win­dows, light from win­dows will do. This will high­light the snowflakes, sep­a­rate them from the main snow, make the pho­to warmer.

A warm light source at night will turn a win­ter pho­to into a pic­ture from the pages of a fairy tale. Pho­to: avto.goodfon.ru

Winter photo in cloudy weather and fog

Morn­ing haze and fog will help cre­ate unique­ly beau­ti­ful pic­tures. Impor­tant:

  • decide in advance on the loca­tion of the shoot­ing. In win­ter, the weath­er is fleet­ing. A lot of time to choose a place, the selec­tion of the com­po­si­tion is sim­ply not there;
  • start work imme­di­ate­ly after sun­rise. You will get frames with a pleas­ant gold­en glow;
  • make pos­i­tive expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion (adjust the val­ue between +1/2 to +2 EV) depend­ing on the bright­ness of the frame. If you miss this, the pho­tos will turn out dirty, dark.
Win­ter fog allows you to take gloomy and atmos­pher­ic pho­tos. Pho­to: w‑dog.ru

Cloudy weath­er is the time for black and white shots. Fol­low these two guide­lines:

  • find a con­trast­ing object for shoot­ing;
  • don’t add too many details to the frame.

frost photo

You can take a pic­ture of the crisp frost that has not yet been destroyed by peo­ple, ear­ly in the morn­ing or before dawn. The main rule is to do every­thing quick­ly. Use a com­bi­na­tion of low ISO and small aper­ture (i.e. f/16, f/22) to increase depth of field. When work­ing, you can not do with­out a tri­pod.

Sparkling ice on the branch­es and gold­en rays of dawn are a com­bo for a suc­cess­ful pho­to. Pho­to: pexels.com

Do you want to high­light the frost in the pho­to? Select a dark area as the back­ground. Con­sid­er the size of the object and the inten­si­ty of the main light. If the back­ground is very dark, set the expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion to neg­a­tive (-1 is good for most back­grounds).

Helpful Hints

1. Set min­i­mum ISO val­ues. This way you will avoid noise.
2. Do not turn on the flash dur­ing the day. The snow is of a cold shade, and the light of the flash is close to nat­ur­al. As a result, a warm spot will be vis­i­ble in the pho­to.
3. Use a lens hood (an attach­ment on the front of the lens) to avoid light, glare. And it will also pro­tect the lens from snow.
4. If you use bright accents in the frame (yel­low, red objects), then against their back­ground the snow will appear clean­er.
5. Use a polar­iz­ing fil­ter for a win­ter pho­to shoot out­doors on a sun­ny day. It makes the sky beau­ti­ful, reduces reflec­tion from snow­drifts.
6. Land­scapes are best shot in the morn­ing or at sun­set. The frame will turn out more dra­mat­ic, deep­er.
7. Shoot after a snow­fall. Cool, if the weath­er cleared up after it. At this time, the snow has not yet stale, has not crum­bled, it is not cov­ered with traces, smooth and shiny.
8. Snow + ice, snow + expanse of water — inter­est­ing com­bi­na­tions.

Ice and snow-capped moun­tains are a beau­ti­ful com­bi­na­tion. Pho­to: pexels.com

Do not be afraid to exper­i­ment, find and imple­ment inter­est­ing ideas. Let this win­ter bring a lot of pos­i­tive emo­tions and beau­ti­ful pic­tures!