Snowshoes or Snow Shoots? But where is Winter?

I had planned on writing this blog on winter and snow photography, but we haven’t really had any to speak of.  The temperature really plummeted overnight and there are now rumors of winter weather for the upcoming weekend, but I’ve had no chance to go out and look as cute as these kids from a VA winter in 1967.  In order to prepare for taking pictures in winter, there are a few tips you need to consider.

First, camera batteries do not like the cold weather at all.  You need to take extras, and keep them close to your body, so they can be swapped out. You might lose as much as 50% of the normal life.  Watch your battery life indicator on your camera.  Keep the camera inside your coat as well.

Second, just like your eyeglasses, you have to watch out for moisture build up on the lens and fogging as it goes from warm moist air inside a car or building into freezing air.  Allow time for the lens and the camera to adjust.  If snowflakes get on the lens, don’t wipe them off with a cloth, use the brush.  The pressure from the cloth could cause them to melt and then instantly refreeze. 

Most critically, you might have noticed that snow is kind of white.  Many people’s pictures of snow however are gray.  The camera brains are still not as smart as our optical processors.  The camera will underexpose the image, if it is allowed to think for itself.  There are several ways to counteract this.  The best way is to ensure you know how to use your Exposure compensation controls.  Add +1/3 or +2/3 stops to the image.  Test it and see if it is enough.

The other method is to bracket your images.  If you are trying to capture people against the snow, this provides the ability to expand your dynamic range.  Finally, although it might seem counterintuitive, consider using your flash as a fill light for the people.  It will help them stand out against the bright white background.

Well, if you have snow go out and shoot some images and post them with your comments.  If we get a flurry or two, I will be out there as well freezing my lens cap off.