Tips For Snow Photography

I am booking tickets, researching and generally getting pretty excited about our upcoming Winter Workshop in Japan in February. I wanted to know what to expect, so I spoke with the Sony Alpha award-winning photographer Andy Yee who will lead the workshop, to get a couple of tips on how to take the best photos in a winter wonderland. 

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • SONY α7R • FE 35MM Ƒ/2.8 ZA •  Ƒ/11 • 30 SEC • ISO 200

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • SONY α7R • FE 35MM Ƒ/2.8 ZA •  Ƒ/11 • 30 SEC • ISO 200

Be Prepared

You know you are going to be in the cold for extended periods of time. The first thing you will want to do is look at the weather forecast and check conditions. Prepare both your clothing options and camera equipment suitably before you head out.

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • Sony α6000 • FE 70-200MM Ƒ/4 G OSS @ 111mm • Ƒ/8 • 1/60 • ISO 100

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • Sony α6000 • FE 70-200MM Ƒ/4 G OSS @ 111mm • Ƒ/8 • 1/60 • ISO 100

Lens Hoods

I usually thrown my lens hoods into the bottom of the draw and not thought twice about them again. However, you will want to bring them out for snowfall. They will keep most of the snowflakes from floating into your front element and blurring your shot. A small umbrella can also be incredibly useful when shooting with a tripod. In saying this, they will not guard them all, so best to have a high-quality microfiber cloth on hand too. 

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • Sony α7R • E 10-18MM Ƒ/4 OSS @ 18mm •  Ƒ/8 • HDR • ISO 100

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • Sony α7R • E 10-18MM Ƒ/4 OSS @ 18mm •  Ƒ/8 • HDR • ISO 100

Overexposure

Camera metering modes expose for mid-grey by default, this is great for most photography, but when we are in the snow there is a lot of snow, and snow is white. If you shoot as your camera suggests, you will find you images become grey and muggy. In the snow we want it to appear its proper white colour. Overexpose your image by a stop or two or be ready to correct it in post-processing.

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • Sony α7R • E 10-18MM Ƒ/4 OSS @ 17MM •  Ƒ/11 • HDR • ISO 80

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • Sony α7R • E 10-18MM Ƒ/4 OSS @ 17MM •  Ƒ/11 • HDR • ISO 80

Fingerless gloves

Having frozen hands is not going to help you operate your camera. Gloves which you do not have to remove entirely, but let you uncover your fingertips are the way to go in the cold conditions. There are a few options for photography winter gloves, but Freehands are a reliable recommendation www.freehands.com

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • Sony α6000 • FE 70-200MM Ƒ/4 G OSS @ 157mm • Ƒ/5.6 • 1/60 • ISO 100

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • Sony α6000 • FE 70-200MM Ƒ/4 G OSS @ 157mm • Ƒ/5.6 • 1/60 • ISO 100

Shutter speed

Fast shutter speeds of 1/500 and upwards will freeze the snowflakes as they fall. Slow shutter speeds of 1/30 and lower will give the snowflakes a dreamy, blurry look as they fall to the ground. They will make polar opposite images, but both will add a different emotion to a scene.

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • SONY SONY α7R • E 10-18MM Ƒ/4 OSS @ 17MM •  Ƒ/11 • 1/200 • ISO 100

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • SONY SONY α7R • E 10-18MM Ƒ/4 OSS @ 17MM •  Ƒ/11 • 1/200 • ISO 100

Manual Focus

During snowfall, your camera's autofocus will spend a lot of time jumping from one snowflake to another. For this reason, it is recommended to use manual focus. Alternatively, use autofocus to get your focus and then change to manual focusing to prevent the focus shifting to the movement of the snow.

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • SONY SONY α7R • E 10-18MM Ƒ/4 OSS @ 18MM •  Ƒ/9.5 • HDR • ISO 100

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • SONY SONY α7R • E 10-18MM Ƒ/4 OSS @ 18MM •  Ƒ/9.5 • HDR • ISO 100

Footprints

It might seem like an obvious one, but you leave tracks in the snow. Unless you are a swan, duck, fox or monkey, try not to spoil the scene for others. Make sure everyone is happy with his or her images before you dive in and start making snow angels. 

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • Sony α6000 • FE 70-200MM Ƒ/4 G OSS @ 93mm • Ƒ/9.5 • HDR • ISO 100

PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY YEE • Sony α6000 • FE 70-200MM Ƒ/4 G OSS @ 93mm • Ƒ/9.5 • HDR • ISO 100


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Author: Andy Yee

The Sony Alpha landscape award-winning photographer Andy Yee is a travel and tourism photographer with Aperture Tours. He is hosting our eleven-day intensive Japan Winter Workshop in February 2018. There are only TWO spots left, so act quickly if you want to be a part of this photographic journey.