We thought we would talk a bit about photographing snow, a somewhat rare occurrence for most southerners! Here in NC, we are expecting snow or ice or some form or wintery mix starting later today. With that in mind, here are some tips for photographing the snow.
For those of us who have experienced snow, we know that is creates a soft blanket that can make even an old shed with a tire on the porch look good. So, just get out there and shoot something, even your own backyard.
Be sure to check your histogram (that graph thing on the back of your camera) frequently. The metering system in your camera can be fooled by having so much white in the image. The goal of the metering system is to average all of the values from various spots in your image and make it mid-tone. This means that snow can end up looking gray instead of white. If this happens, you have a couple of options.
You can use your Exposure Compensation and intentionally overexpose your image to make the snow white again, but be careful not to blow out your highlights. The Exposure Compensation button is usually located on the right side of the camera near the Shutter Release button. It can also be found in the menus or on the display. It is indicated by a +/- sign. If there is a lightning bolt with an arrow on it, that is the Exposure Compensation for the flash. You want the one without the lightning bolt.
You can also put your camera in manual mode (*gasp*) and overexpose intentionally that way by either using a wider aperture or a slower shutter speed. You could also increase your ISO but would still have to adjust your aperture and shutter speed.
Keep an eye on your white balance as well. Snow photographs often take on a blue cast, especially in the shade or on overcast days. Though auto white balance does an excellent job most of the time, you may want to consider switching over to cloudy or shady white balance to remove the blue cast.
Another thing to remember when photographing in the snow and cold is your batteries. Cold weather can suck the power from your batteries. Keep your spare batteries in a pocket close to your body to keep them warm. When you are not using your camera, tuck it into your jacket for the same reason. Note of caution: we have heard that if you rub the positive end of one AA-style battery against the negative end of another AA-style battery, you can discharge the power from the batteries and possibly catch your pants on fire. As this would be bad, we like to either rubber band our AA-style batteries together or keep them in a battery case to prevent this from happening.
No matter what you photograph out there, please be careful. Drive safely. Watch where you are walking. Stay warm.