Photography in the Snow

We all love to take photos of our dogs in the snow because they love the stuff and start playing like puppies again leaping about, digging and rolling around in the most endearing way. It’s a great opportunity to grab some action shots and, perhaps, a picture for next year’s Christmas cards.

However, if you’re not a little careful you’ll come back with some disappointing results and be scratching your head as to what went wrong, particularly if, like me, you use manual settings. Our cameras have a wonderful ability to expose correctly for whatever we put in front of them but sometimes they can be fooled.

18% Grey Card

The exposure meter doesn’t expect the world to suddenly be bright, brilliant white. It normally averages the exposure for a theoretical 18% shade of grey. The result will be underexposed images which seems a bit counter intuitive but it’s logical I’m afraid. This makes your wonderful, white sparkly images look dull and renders your subjects very dark, a bit like silhouettes. This is a similar effect to what aircraft photographers suffer from when shooting into a bright sky.

If you want to get natural looking images you are going to have to compensate by opening up your exposures by a stop, or even 2! Because I shoot in RAW and post process all my images I only used 2/3 of a stop for all these as I didn’t want to end up with snow that was so white it had no texture and I was able to adjust, when necessary, on my computer after the shoot. Of course, your camera might be clever enough to realise what is going on and do this for you or it might have a specific snow exposure setting. Whatever, if it goes wrong, you now have an idea of how to fix it next time and good luck.