Exposing for snow

In Tips and Tricks by Patrick

This is question that I get asked or emailed quite a bit during this time of year. Here in the Midwest, we are just beginning our 5 months of winter which usually runs from mid November to mid March. Winter photography can be absolutely spectacular, but how does the camera see winter white. Honestly, like any other bright white. Anyone that knows my style of photography knows that I am always going to be in aperture priority so I can control the depth of field. The camera is going to try to make the best exposure it can and when seeing bright white based on the information and adjust the shutter speed accordingly.

This raises the question, does everything need to be exposed properly when it comes to snow. Everyone, whether it snows where you are or not, know snow is white. I submit that you can have blown out areas in the snow and trying to adjust for that is pointless. One thing to consider to when photographing snow is contrast. By that I mean having something in the picture that appears darker will cause the minds eye to see the snow to appear whiter.

Other things to consider when shooting in the snow and telling the story is to adjust the color temperature to blue which given the impression of cold. This is easily done in camera. Go into your menu and you can adjust the color temp manually by increasing the oranges or blues depending on the scene you are surveying. Doing this allows you to manipulate the mood and what you are feeling at the time of capture. There is no right or wrong, remember, it is your photograph.

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