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Snow photography tips

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Just a few quick reminders for shooting the white stuff

February 10, 2010

Since a substantial part of the United States today is in Blizzard mode, here are a few quick reminders if you want to photograph the pretty snow.


As I'm writing this, the snow is falling heavier and a blizzard warning has been issued for the region. Which means two things: 1. I will be shoveling soon, and 2. I will venture out with my camera. Based on the chatter on Twitter and Facebook, this is not a terribly original thought.

Snow is very photogenic. Here are a few reminders to help you get better pictures of it.

If you're using a compact camera, be sure it's set to Snow or Beach mode. This will boost the exposure by about 2 stops to compensate for the whiteness of the snow, which would otherwise be rendered a solid 18 percent gray.

If you're using a DSLR or a compact that offers exposure compensation, choose +2 EV. I'd also advise the Shade setting to compensate for the overall blue hue that is often found in snowy scenes, even when it's cloudy.

Turn off your flash, unless your subject is meant to be brightly illuminated flakes of snow with a dark background. On the other hand, if you're photographing, say, kids making a snowman, consider having flash on with a long shutter speed. The flash will freeze the motion but the blur behind will give a sense of dynamic motion.

If it's actively snowing, protect your camera from getting wet! If you don't already have a water-resistant camera or protection, simply grab a plastic produce bag and wrap it around your camera. It might not be the best solution, but it's better than nothing.


Read Bob Atkin's article on winter photography for more in-depth tips


Happy shooting and enjoy February's Fury today (when you're not shovelling, that is)!

Photo: © AdamG1975/


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