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Snow Photos: A Few Tips

Taking photographs in the snow can be quite challenging, especially if you are trying to capture some of your children.  The above photo was taken this morning with my three girls in our first snow of the season.  {Yes, technically they should be at school, but after over 130 accidents in our area, the husband and I made the decision to keep them home.}

Snow photos have lots of things to factor...it's cold, it's wet, and your camera sometimes makes your subjects too dark.

Here are a few tips I've got to help with those things

1. Cold - set realistic expectations.  The younger your kids, the less they will enjoy the cold.  And while there are exceptions to the norm, plan on about 5-10 minutes max to grab what you can. As you can see, my 9-year old smiled, my 7-month old looks confused, and my 7-year old is busy making a snowball.  BUT...they are all there, in the snow, and that's all I really hoped for.  Score!

2.  Wet - cameras and water don't really go well together, so plan accordingly.  On a day like today, the snow was still falling as I took this photo.  We were on a time crunch to get the baby in a photo before she melted down needing a nap.  As with the previous tip, plan on being out only about 5-10 minutes.  And if you happen to have an extra pair of hands, have them hold an umbrella over your head.  OR...simply wait until it's not actively snowing to take your camera outside.  

3.  Dark faces - this is the tricky one.  Snow is white, and bright.  So naturally, if you have your camera on auto, it will automatically think there is enough light based on the bright, white snow it sees.  Thus, making your kids' faces darker than you wanted.  If you know how to, overexpose your image.  If you don't know what that means, then follow along....

On an iPhone, once you press your finger to the screen to show it your focus area, a little box pops up with a cute sun.  That sun can let you raise or lower the exposure on your phone.  You want to touch & drag your finger up.  

Photo from Apple's website:  https://www.apple.com/iphone-6/cameras/

Photo from Apple's website:  https://www.apple.com/iphone-6/cameras/

If you are using a DSLR camera, it's time to take it off of that green box Auto Mode, and move into one of the more creative modes!  YOU. CAN. DO. IT.

Turn your camera dial to P - or Program Mode.  In this mode, your camera sets the shutter speed & aperture to suit your subject's brightness.  Once you press your shutter button down halfway to focus, you can then adjust your exposure (either up or down) with that big rollie wheel, or the big "quick control dial" on a Canon camera. {see the image below}  You roll it one direction to let in more light, and the other direction to let in less - the actual direction will depend on your camera.  As a general rule, if your indicator inside the camera is moving TOWARD the + symbol, you are making the image brighter.  

Image  source: http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/buying-advice/buying-a-second-dslr-17252

Image  source: http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/buying-advice/buying-a-second-dslr-17252

What this is doing is adjusting your exposure compensation.  You are telling the camera, "Okay, I want my image THIS bright."  And your camera is adjusting its settings to get you where you want to be.  On Program Mode, it will adjust the shutter speed and/or the aperture.  Sometimes, depending on the lens you are using, your camera will only be able to do so much.  Thankfully, since we are talking about shooting in a bright, snowy setting, you can most likely achieve what you're looking for.  

And apologies to anyone who read this yesterday when I told you to use Shutter Priority mode (Tv). The whole point of Shutter Priority is to get your exposure dead center, or a "proper" exposure.  Not what we are trying to do!  That's what I get for trying to blog with little sleep, a migraine, and holding an active 7-month old.  My bad!  

So, get your snow suit on, bundle your kids up, and give it a try!  {and be sure to share what you got - I love to see everyone's snow photos!}