Taking photos in the snow

Connecticut photography, family portraiture in New Haven County

Given how much snow we’ve been getting, I thought I might share a couple of tips on how to take great photos in the snow.  🙂  Have you tried to take photos of your kids, your dog, or your backyard in the snow, and found that they come out rather dull and dark, looking a bit like the image on the left, instead of the image on the right?

max in snow hat comparison


This is because most cameras by default assess how much light is in a scene as a whole in order to set a correct exposure (“evaluative metering”).  Since snow is so bright, the camera chooses to reduce exposure, which results in the whole image being a bit darker, including those parts of the image that aren’t as bright as snow.  This ends up really affecting faces, which often look much too dark.  There are a few ways you can take care of this “in camera” (you can also easily make adjustments in a post-processing program by increasing exposure).  If you have a point-and-shoot, check to see if the camera has a “snow” mode, and if so, use it!  If you don’t have this feature, you can ask the camera to expose the image more than it wants to by using an exposure compensation button, which looks like this:

Exposure Compensation button on a DSLR is usually on top behind the Shutter Release button

You hold it down and use the dial (on my Nikons, the dial is on the back of my camera, for my right thumb to use–so I hold down the +/- button with my right pointer finger, and dial with the right thumb) to increase your exposure to +1 or even +2 (try both and see what looks better!).

The final way you can solve the problem is by changing your camera to spot metering (also called partial metering) instead of evaluative metering.  In spot metering mode, the camera decides on exposure based on the very center of the frame.  Note that this may not work perfectly if the darker parts of your image are well off to the side.  You usually find this mode by going into the menu of your camera.

Try experimenting and let me know if you notice a difference in your snow photos! 🙂





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