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I love to exploit the beauty of a freshly fallen snow. Blankets of white transform landscapes into pristine wonderlands with little clutter. The world takes on an entirely fresh look. Everywhere you look, there’s something different to shoot.
Snow photography can be broken down into two general types of conditions - A) Images made while the snow is falling; B) Bright sunlight reflecting off a blanket of white. Each present some concerns with regards to metering and composition. Both provide great opportunities to capture majestic photographs.
Falling snow reduces the overall contrast. Additionally, an atmospheric perspective is created wherein subjects recede into the distance. Clutter is subdued in that it’s hidden beneath the fallen snow or via the atmospheric conditions that simulate mist or fog. Falling snow adds layers of perspective that emphasize foreground elements while the background ones fade away.
Use slow shutter speeds to exaggerate the streaking lines of the flakes. To freeze their motion, use a shutter speed of 1/125 or faster. Avoid using flash. It will illuminate the flakes close to the lens rendering them as white blobs. Move close to a foreground element to emphasize the layers of perspective. The closer objects will record darker than those that recede in the distance. Look for bold colored compositional elements that stand out against the wash of white.
Bright sun and snow are a wonderful photographic combination, but they present some exposure concerns. If the contrast range is high, you’re guaranteed to get areas of overexposed snow. Check your histogram and compensate accordingly. Check the LCD page with flashing highlights to see the areas of overexposure. I urge you to bracket snow scenes to get a good exposure. If the scene exceeds the capture range of your sensor, merge the bracketed series into an HDR program such as Nik HDR Efex Pro or Photomatix.
Experiment with a wide range of focal lengths. Use your wide lenses to exaggerate perspective and emphasize the receding layers of subject matter. Medium telephotos allow you to compress the compositional elements that result in an image where the subject matter is brought closer which emphasizes the falling snow in the entire frame. Macro subjects abound as you’ll find lots of hidden gems as you explore the miniature world of white on white.