So what’s the big deal photographing snow? Well, if you are asking that question you probably haven’t tried it yet! Snowy days present limitless photo opportunities with their individual reflective abilities, slow shutter speed effects and such. Read on to learn a little more on how you can photograph snow.
1. The Right Focal Length
The focal length of the lens that you use has a marked impact on the final, whatever the subject may be. The longer the focal length, the more it compacts the scene in a sense, lessening the perspective effects. This actually works well when photographing snow flakes, giving your image a layered feel. If the snow fall is not too intense, and you wish to give it a more intense feel, a long focal length can bring out snow flakes that are even fifty or a hundred feet away! This of course depends on the capabilities of your gear. The longer the focal length, the more layers of snow flakes you could possibly include in your composition. But do remember, when you use a long focal length you also minimize the depth of field. in other words you would get a layer of snow flakes in sharp focus, with layers in front of and behind falling gradually out of focus, some creating a bokeh effect. Not bad in any case! On the other hand, a wide angle exaggerates distances but at the same time maximizes the depth of field. If you use a wide setting to shoot snow flakes, and throw in a slow shutter speed as well, you can get a nice blanket of snow flakes in focus. At the end of the day it is only practice that gives you maximum control. For this reason, we suggest you note down settings (or check them out of computer using EXIF data later), to really learn what works well for you.
2. The Right Aperture
Like any other photo scenario, aperture settings play a huge role when photographing snow flakes. The larger the aperture, the more shallow is the depth of field. In other words, DO use large apertures if you wish to create a bokeh effect. Combine this with the right focal length as mentioned above. On the contrary, use small apertures like f/11 if you want to maximize the depth of field. Add to that a wide lens as mentioned above.
Small apertures work well for extreme situations such as a blizzard. However, do keep in mind that using a small aperture would also mean you need to slow don your shutter speed or raise the ISO for a proper exposure.
3. The Right Shutter Speed
Shutter speed can have a major effect on your image when shooting snow fall. A slow speed could result in the snow flakes looking blurred. You could purposely induce this effect – use long exposures and small apertures to create streaks with the snow flakes. On the other hand, if you wish for the snow flakes to appear clear and sharp, use fast shutter speeds.