The UK may be equally worried about torrential rain and the cold snap, but let’s say for arguments’ sake a few weeks of winter wonderland style snowfall are on their way. Think more along the lines of Raymond Briggs ‘The Snowman’ than the grey slush of commuter nightmares!
1. Don’t rely on the auto-setting!
For reasons that shall remain known only to the Snow Queen herself, winter hates the auto-setting on your camera. The snow will do everything in its power to make your images exceptionally dark or glaringly bright (somehow both of these show little to no definition concerning your subject, making that snowman or your joyfully frolicking dog appear as nothing more than a shadowy smear or bright smudge!)
2. Learn to set your own white balance to avoid blue snow!
The white balance setting basically tells the camera how white the white of each image should be. In the face of a gorgeous snowy scene, most cameras will overcompensate for all the white by making the images too blue. To select the right white balance, you can usually look under the format settings of the camera and select “Daylight” or some variation on “Snow”. This will lock the white balance to minimise blue tones and keep the brilliant white of the snow nice and true. (It’s also a great way to make sunsets pop super red!)
3. Argh! Dark Pictures!
The dark is exactly what you want when you’re trying out your new night vision binoculars or one of our latest astronomical telescopes, but on a festive afternoon taking photos of the icing on your garden, you don’t want dark photos!
The light meters on most cameras automatically average around 18% grey. But with so much white in the frame, your camera is tricked into making the image much darker than necessary. Manually increasing the exposure value or selecting a specialist setting (e.g. ‘Snow Scene’ or ‘Snowy Landscape’) means you can brighten up white-heavy shots.
4. Get up early
You may have been up all night with your astronomy telescopes, but if you can soldier on until dawn you’ll see fresh snowfall at its most photogenic. The sunlight is softer, colours more vivid and the snow less trodden. The long shadows of dawn and soft light of the sunrise minimise the risk of blue tones (which become more of an issue closer to midday)
5. Avoid the snow!
There are plenty of colours in a snow-filled landscape – frost on a rich brown pinecone, fresh snowfall on a red letter box, etc – so consider avoiding the issues of snowy photography by focussing on colourful objects. A great tip is to use the fill flash of your camera to help the automatic metering be a little more accurate.
A huge part of successful winter photography is about trial and error. It can be a great idea to avoid auto settings entirely and really get a feel for how your camera works (and few conditions present more of a challenge than snow!)
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