Each winter, I anticipate our first snowfall of the season. Living in the Richmond Virginia area means that there is no guarantee we will get snow, but sometimes we get a little more than our fair share. I love a good snow day when it means I can stay in my pajamas, drink hot cocoa and snuggle up with the kids for a movie (or dare I say a nap). We venture out for a bit here and there to play in the white stuff. Make a snowman. Make snow cream. Make memories.
I have several blog posts about snow photos, but today I'm going to share some of my tips with you! You can view the original blog posts by clicking on the photos below.
Snow Day Photos
#1. Snow reflects light. It creates soft beautiful light as it bounces light everywhere. It makes people look like they glow a bit and adds a sparkle to their eyes. While this is generally a positive element, it can also create a lot of glare, as anyone who has been skiing can affirm.
Tip: Position yourself with the sun behind your subject. On most days, this will result in underexposed people/subjects since they are now in shadow. With snow on the ground, light is reflected back up on your subject(s), reducing the shadow!
Bonus tip: Snow reflects light inside, too! With all that snow on the ground, your indoor photos will be brighter as well. Take a picture of someone looking out the window at the snow and you'll be amazed at the results. Just make sure they don't have any direct light from the sun on them.
#2. Snow is white. Your camera is programmed to expose for middle gray (unless you tell it otherwise), meaning it's going to take those bright and white photographs and darken them down some until it averages gray. If you're using the auto setting there isn't much you can do about this.
Tip: If you use Aperture or Shutter Priority or even Program mode, you will be able to adjust shift your exposure to a brighter setting. Some cameras will even have a Snow scene option which will pump up the exposure a bit since your scene is mostly white and not gray. Of course, if you are in manual mode, you can adjust all of your settings to properly expose your image.
#3. Snow is bright. While this kind of like #1, I'm talking about the pure amount of light, not it's shadow softening qualities. With more light available, it increases the range of settings that will result in sharp images. Higher shutter speeds and smaller apertures help freeze motion and have a greater depth of field with more in focus. Higher shutter speeds and smaller apertures also reduce the amount of light going into the camera. So if you're wanting use those higher settings, you're going to need a lot of light. Hello snow.
I also like to venture out on my own to capture snowflake photos when the snow is just right. I don't go far, usually just my front porch. I'm often in my pajamas with my coat and gloves, armed with a camera and a light if it's dark. (LED lanterns work great if you're doing this at night.) The following should help you get started if you want to give it a try too.
#1. You'll need to get close. Snowflakes are tiny and you'll need to get as close as possible to them. Macro lenses allow the camera/lens to focus on things at close range. The Canon 100mm macro lens will focus on something as close as 11 inches. In comparison, the typical 18-55mm kit lens that came with your camera needs a minimum of about 1.5 feet to focus and the 55-250mm lens that you might also have, needs about 3.5 feet to focus. By allowing the camera to be that close and focused is part of the macro magic!
Tip: If you don't have a macro lens, you can rig one up with a regular lens. It takes some practice, so be patient. If you don't have snow yet, you can practice on popcorn or confetti (see my popcorn macro examples below)
Reverse Lens/Macro Instructions
First, start by setting your camera's aperture to f/4 or f/5. You'll need to be in aperture priority or manual mode to do this. (If you're not familiar with these modes, I'd love to tell you about them! Check out the class interest form below).
Next, take a lens with a small focal length such as 50mm and hold it firmly up to your camera's lens ring. They make connectors for this very purpose - attaching your lens to your camera backwards. I don't have one, so I just carefully hold it in place with my left hand.
Finally, with your camera up to your eye, move in close to your subject until things appear in focus and take a picture. Your auto-focus will not work here, so you have to move around until your subject is in focus.
Hover over the popcorn images below to get an idea of how each one was created.
Key tips here are that the shorter focal lengths will zoom you in further (it's backwards). If you can't get things in focus, you're probably not close enough. Move in closer. If you can't take a picture, you may have your camera set to not click the shutter unless you have achieved focus. Check out your settings to change that. Feel free to ask questions in the comments if you're having trouble.
Tip: Place a blanket, mitten, or scarf on your porch, steps, or a railing to catch the flakes and allow you to examine their form. Leave this item outside so it stays cold and it will help keep the flakes from melting on impact. It also creates a lovely backdrop for your photos.
Fair warning: it takes patience and time to wait for perfect flakes and to get things in focus, so dress to be out in for a while. It will be a little addicting and you might stay out longer than your body likes. Here's a bonus tip: Have some hot cocoa made up in advance and place it in your microwave all set so you just have to hit start.
I hope you enjoyed these facts and tips to help you with your photo making adventures. I'd love to see your photos. You can share them on my facebook page or in a private message. I'll only repost photos with your permission and with photo credit to you, of course.If you're interested in taking a photo workshop to learn more about how to use your camera, fill out the short form below and I'll be in touch soon!