We had our first major snow storm this weekend, and for me there is no better time to get out and experience winter at its best. I made the trek up to the top of Mt Beacon Saturday morning with 12″ of fresh snow on the ground, and though I didn’t take many photos, I did get a great workout. Though I normally use my Katoola micro-spikes in the winter, I opted for my MSR snowshoes because of the deep fresh snow.
There’s something about snow that I really enjoy, especially during or right after it has fallen. I think it has to do with the acoustic effect it has and how it makes nature feel more intimate, similar to the way a plush rug makes a living room feel more comfortable. This sense of intimacy and comfort is perhaps due to my sensitivity to sounds and my background as a musician and audio engineer. I just enjoy hiking in nature that much more, and as long as I’m warm (another issue altogether), I tend to become lost in the beauty of the shapes, tonalities, and textures that snow creates. Everywhere I look, what would usually be a dark, flat scene becomes much more interesting and exciting visually.
I find that I also begin to see more in black and white – that is to say in shapes, lines, and forms. This is especially true during a cloudy or overcast day, when there is less dramatic light. Of course, during sunrise or sunset, warm light can make snow change colors, and create beautiful and amazing landscapes that are wonderful to photograph.
Here are a few random tips for photographing snow:
- During bright light, be careful not to over-expose the scene and cause the loss of detail and texture in the snow. This can be done by watching your histogram and making sure no part of the image is clipped in the highlights.
- Because snow tends to make digital cameras under-expose, you might also want to add positive exposure compensation to get the snow to look white – just be careful again not to clip any highlights. The more snow there is in your composition, the more your camera will underexpose to make it look like 18% grey, or midway between white and black.
- To freeze snow in the air, try and use shutter speeds faster than 1/200 of a second. To show the movement of snow, you can experiment wit shutter speeds as low as 1/30 to 1/125 of a second – depending on how fast the snow is falling of course.
- Keep your camera batteries warm , and your camera dry since snow can sometimes freeze on the dials and controls making it very difficult to operate.
Get out and enjoy all of the other wonderful Scenic Hudson Parks, which should be covered with a beautiful blanket of photogenic snow.