Again, it is the time of year. In the morning, you wake up to find that your window is full of snowflakes, everything is white, and you’re freezing as soon as you take the blanket off. As awful as this sounds and photographers dislike it, the snowy winter is an incredible time for some cool pictures to be taken. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get any good shots for your portfolio or photo album just because it’s cold outside.
Many photographers consider winter as a challenge because when it is snowing, many of them evade shooting outdoors. This is a big error, not just because you miss out on making any money, but also because it creates excellent chances to learn new things. Winter has many significant events, such as Christmas and New Year, and the scenarios and possibilities become infinite when you apply snow to that equation.
Snow will test your photography skills, and you can realize how amazing snow portraits can be after mastering them. That being said, this blog has some helpful tips for snow portraits, and we have also clarified camera settings that will make your snow portraits look better. Both of these will help you appreciate winter/snow photography, and you will be able to take stunning snow pictures as a result. Let’s start.
Tips for Taking Portraits in the Snow
Going out on a rainy day is not the same as going out on a sunny day in the summer. Snow and cold appear to damage our technology and our bodies, so there is a need for planning. Winter is never, on top of that, predictable. At one point, with just mild quantities of snow, it can be calm, while the next second, the powerful wind might start, driving snowflakes straight to your face or your target. This is why, before beginning the winter photoshoot, many photographers struggle to adequately plan themselves.
Prepare for light changes
Snow is really tricky, and as stunning as it is to see a snowy mountain in the distance, like the devil, it will fool your camera! Some claim that winter is beautiful just in the picture, but with the right accessories, you need to be prepared for light changes to make the picture beautiful. Light diffusers, tripods, etc., for starters. For a given time, it also depends on the circumstances.
When you mix the warm and golden light at dawn with the cool, blue-colored hue of the snow, you get pearlescent light. You can snap the portrait at sunset if you want to go the opposite direction, which can result in some dramatic scenery.
Prepare your camera
As described earlier, the cold may have a drastic effect on technology. It is not advisable to spend too much time in low temperatures with your TV, tablet, or related pieces of technology. The same applies to your camera, especially because there’s a battery inside, and the battery is often the most fragile and unsafe thing to fuck with, as some of you know. With that in mind, when you head out, totally charge your camera, and when you’re out, drop your camera in your pocket when you’re not shooting.
Batteries drain faster when it’s cold
This refers to both older and newer batteries, with somewhat improved treatment of the newer batteries at low temperatures. For this reason, lithium-ion batteries are excellent and can operate properly at up to 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). The weakest offenders are the alkaline batteries, but evade them at all costs.
Temperatures can be very poor if you’re from Canada or Alaska, so you can buy some silica bags to better insulate the camera. The camera manual can also be read and tested for working temperatures. The problem about cameras is that they have lubricants that make it easy for the moving parts to move, without friction. The camera may crack if these lubricants freeze on a cold day and the engine may stop running.
Do we need to better clarify this? Dress yourself warmly and buy some gloves. Either fingerless gloves or mittens may be bought. Remember to suggest that to the consumers!
Camera settings to shoot in snow
The main challenge when taking portraits in the snow is… yeah, the snow! Your camera can be fooled into underexposing your images, which can appear gray or dark-blue, leaving you and your customers disappointed. Here are few guidelines for the best exposure setup:
Frame the shot
Place your subject where you want to film, set up the props if necessary, and keep your camera on a tripod like that. Focus on the subject, and use the compensation button for exposure. You will go somewhere between +2/3 and +1 2/3 EV, depending on the brightness of the snow and the scenery.
Now, note these settings and turn to manual mode and dial fresh aperture and speed of shutter. This will produce a minor over-exposure that, as expected, will make the snow appear white and will not blast the subject out of the picture.
Play with your Settings
You should immediately use the manual mode if you want to fiddle with the settings on your own. A meter reading of certain objects visible in the scene may be taken, such as structures or rocks. Now, reverse the above procedure and adjust the camera settings to the objects’ metered settings. Often, to stop blowing out the colors in the snow, you’ll need to place the unfavorable reward.
We have several pre-sets that have proven to be appropriate with various weather and lighting conditions. You would need to over-expose the picture by +1 EV for an overcast, snow-laden day. You can go for +2 EV in the sunshine, but be careful not to go over this value, as you can blow the subject out of the frame.
There are three options regarding over or underexposure if you are using spot metering on your subject. Using +1 EV for a subject clad in white (or white animal, whether you are photographing an animal), use 0 EV for a neutral subject, and -1 EV for a black subject. Increase or decrease, as you feel acceptable, based on the lighting conditions.
It is quick to fix the exposure with the histogram, and if you know how to use it, it will save you a lot of time. Take a test shot of the frame you have selected for the launch, and check the histogram.
In order to improve the visibility, apply some constructive compensation as you see the small hump in the centre. Apply the negative compensation to avoid blowing out the highlights as the graph slides steadily towards the lower right side.
Shutter Speed Matters
When taking photographs in the snow, messing around with the pace of the shutter will lead to some surprising effects. You can use a slower shutter speed of 1/15 sec, if the weather is not windy and the snowflakes do not disturb your shot. This will allow you to capture fantastic portraits, particularly at sunset or sunrise, where you can capture the light versions, resulting in some incredible scenery.
Faster shutter speeds are needed if there are powerful winds, causing havoc and driving the snowflakes towards you and your subject. You are able to go quicker than 1/15 for every meaning and see the results. In our experience, a gentle wind followed by mild snow can be fired at a shutter speed of 1/125 sec, whereas harsh, blizzard-like conditions demand a speed of 1/350 sec.
For the reasons we mentioned above, the snow can be tricky, but also for one simple reason: finding the right white balance. By losing the white balance, it is easy to destroy a picture taken in the snow. The snow is cool, because it’s on the blue side of the continuum of colour. If you don’t set the white balance, chances are there’s a blueish tint in your frame, which is not right. The “flash” setting on the sensor that can compensate for the blue color is used by certain photographers.
In fact, because of the overcompensating blue color, it also adds a yellow tint, which is still not ideal. The white balance automatic setting will either transform your image grey or blue again, so this choice is not perfect. We recommend manually adjusting the white balance and placing it at about 6500 Kelvin. Depending on the weather, lighting, etc., you can then go a little lower or higher.
Always Shoot Raw
Although the most common image format is JPEG, it comes with several caveats, with some restrictions being one. When you’re faced with complicated photography situations such as these, where the scene is packed with reflective snow, these drawbacks pop up. You can safely manipulate these parameters to get the best results when you set the file format to RAW, without the drawbacks of JPEG formats. In comparison, shooting in RAW would encourage you to change shadows and retain the highlights after the picture is taken.
Without the bokeh, what is a portrait? Place your subject in front of a bright backdrop, to begin with. The snow is colorful and can be used as a backdrop, but the image would be generic and dull if you use snow alone.
Instead, try to bring some sunlight to your shot or use the light reflecting from the ice to add some individuality. Using a smaller number like f/3 or f/5 for the aperture setting and remove yourself a little from the subject and the surroundings. The large aperture created by the above settings will give you a shallow field depth, making your subject the focus of the image. Only make sure you’re doing the distance right.
At last Don’t let snow fool you.
Just like the devil, Snow is. It’s disappointing because both you and your camera will be tricked into believing that the shot is bad or good. Therefore, in order to be able to afford hundreds of images, you need to have a hefty microSD card in your camera. The explanation for this is because you may assume that a specific picture is not good, though it’s awesome because you can’t always be cool, quiet, and behave rationally out there, in the field.
Purchase a good microSD card and hold Any picture you take in the snow to prevent this problem. Heat up as you get in, drink a cup of tea, sit down at your computer or laptop, and switch your images. Now, you have to be able to rationally think and review any picture you have taken.