Winter can be a beautiful time of the year, and despite the colder temperatures, many photographers find inspiration in their surroundings to get out and take some amazing pictures.
Canadian landscapes and wildlife are natural subjects, but winter portrait photography is also a great way to enjoy the snowy season and have fun with your family, friends and pets!
Planning your Shoot
In winter, the snow becomes a white canvas, which makes a perfect backdrop for portraits. Encourage your subjects to dress up in their most colourful coats, hats and scarves – both pastel and vibrant hues will pop from winter backgrounds. Plan a fun activity like skating, sledding or a friendly snowball fight to keep everyone moving and having a good time.
Getting the Correct Exposure
Because your camera’s meter is calibrated for a scene of “average” brightness, photographing people in the snow can sometimes lead to an underexposed image.
Your camera’s light metering system is calibrated to the brightness of average grey (“18% grey”). That means that in evaluative metering mode, the camera will determine the exposure so that the average brightness of the whole image is 18% grey. Snow is brighter than 18% grey, so if you let the camera decide without exposure compensation, it will tend to make the snow too dark (grey) instead of white.
Using your camera’s exposure compensation, dial in +1 to +2 stops more light. Your objective should be to achieve the ‘whitest’ tonality of snow, while still retaining some detail. This overexposure will ensure that the snow looks white, but it won’t blow out other objects in the photo.
In the ‘AUTO white balance’ mode, your camera makes its best guess for your photo. Unfortunately, cameras often read snow as being slightly blue in tone; therefore, the colour tone of your images can also be off.
Thankfully, most compact cameras sold today have easy settings for various light sources, such as snow, bright sun, overcast, etc. To warm up an image on your DSLR camera, you can set the white balance to ‘shade’ as this adds a pink/ orange cast to the image and counteracts the blue/ colder light.
The batteries in your camera don’t perform the best when it’s cold. Keep your camera warm by carrying it under your coat, as close to your body’s warmth as possible. Don’t forget to carry extra sets of batteries in a warm place, as well.