January 19, 2018

How To Take Amazing Pictures in the Snow

how to take amazing photos in the snow tutorial

After posting pictures of my family in the snow this week, I received several questions about how to take amazing pictures in the snow. So, I thought it’d be fun to do a little tutorial on how we took them!

I know snow seems scary. Cold and wet elements aren’t always a camera’s best friend, right? The last thing we want to do is ruin expensive equipment. But snow portraits are actually one of the easiest things to photograph! The light is so even!! It’s one big natural reflector that makes skin glow so beautifully!

So how do we take amazing pictures in the snow?

*Skip this next part if all you have is a phone camera. Those tips are below!*

How to take amazing pictures in the snow with a dslr camera!

We don’t protect the camera…gasp! That, honestly, has probably been my biggest question! We literally take the camera out into the snow! While we’re getting dressed to go out, we’ll put it on our porch to let it acclimate to the weather, kind of like a car warming up, but that’s about it.

Cameras are sealed for most weather conditions and can handle light snow! Obviously don’t take it out in a blizzard, but light flakes are no problem. Our snow was on and off heavy, so we chose to photograph during one of the lighter snowfalls.

If you’re in heavy snow, or worried about your camera body, try using shower caps, grocery bags, sandwich baggies, things like that! Just wrap them around the body and secure with a rubber band, and hit the snow! They make expensive options to protect your camera, but unless you’re regularly shooting in bad weather you don’t need them!

Temperature wise, I’m not exactly sure what cameras can handle. Here in NC we don’t get below 25-30 very often, and my cameras haven’t had problem handling it. I wouldn’t spend hours in the cold with your gear, but a few minutes in that temperature range shouldn’t hurt it!

Be smart here please. Don’t risk your camera equipment for the sake of a photo!

Use a lens hood. What’s that you ask? It’s the funny shaped thing that attached to the front of your lens. We don’t protect our camera bodies with anything, but we do our lenses. Using a lens hood helps keep snow from reaching the glass, which in turn helps prevent water spots in your photos. Once the lens gets wet, you’ll most likely have to go back inside to clean it! Using the hood won’t prevent all the snowflakes from reaching your lens, but it helps!

Also, you can totally shoot under an umbrella if needed! Our little secret, no one ever has to know.

We shoot when it’s still overcast. That cloud cover, paired with the lovely reflection of the snow, makes for gorgeous images. Snow pictures when the sun is out are much trickier. If that’s you’re only option, make sure the sun is behind your subject so you’re shooting into it and your subjects aren’t squinting (the other way is possible too just trickier!), and if possible find shade! Cameras have a hard time handling the brightness of the sun on snow!

We shoot at f2 to get the blurry background. Our official settings for these images are f2.0, 1/640 shutter, iso 200. Hear me on this though, every situation is different!!! The next time it snows our settings will probably be much different than these! Applying these settings will only give you a starting point, they’re not an end-all.

Also, if you separate yourself from the background like we did with the tree, you’ll get a little more of that blurred look regardless of your settings.

We edit them! Below is a sample of what our images looked like before editing them! I used Mastin Fuji Pushed presets for these images, but there are others that are equally good. Or you can always create your own! I do drop the blacks in Lightroom and increase the shadows a touch, because cloudy days tend to loose contrast. Beautiful skin, not much contrast. So I “fix” that with my editing.

how to edit snow photos tutorial

How to take amazing pictures in the snow with a cell phone!

It’s been said that the best camera is the one that’s with you. And I’m a firm believer of that. Sometimes a cell phone is all I want to take with me, and that’s ok! If that’s you this next section you’re going to love!

Step 1 is to take the picture any way you can. I switch between the Camera+ app and the built in camera on my iPhone 8. These days I mainly use the built in camera app because dang that thing is good! Portrait mode anyone???

The most important thing when taking a cell phone photo is making sure the exposure is good when you take it. On the iPhone, if you tap the screen to focus the image, you can then slide your finger up or down to make the photo brighter or darker depending on your style. When it looks how you like it take the photo!

The advantage of using the Camera+ app to do this is it remembers what you did, so you can take multiple pictures with the same settings. The built in app, resets for each photo which is kind of annoying.

Once you have a photo, edit it. There are TONS of amazing editing apps. My go-to is Filmborn. I’ve also used PicTapGo, VSCO and the editor within photo roll itself or Instagram. For my style, whichever app I use, I almost always increase the brightness and add contrast. That’s basically all I do.

Whatever you do, for the love of a good picture, please don’t use a filter.

As with a “real” camera, the best photos are the ones that are taken correctly and not fixed with an editing program. Find the good light. Even light is awesome, meaning no harsh sun or shadow. And unlike a real camera, phones don’t handle backlighting well from my experience so put on some sunglasses, have your subjects face the sun and take the picture!

Below is a photo I took with my iPhone and edited in Filmborn. Not as high quality as my professional camera, but I don’t care look at that smile!!

how to take snow photos with an iphone tutorial

I hope these tips help you the next time you find yourself in the snow!! Around here who knows when that will happen! Snow days like that one are rare, so soak them up, take all the pretty pictures, and if you use any of these tips let me know! I want to see your pics!

Because my family is the cutest (you know yours is too)…here are some more of us in the snow. Also, giving credit where credit is due, my husband took most of these. All I did was choose the settings.

how to take snow photos tutorial toddler model snow photo sisters on a sled photo dad and daughter in the snow photo sisters in the snow photo