I have been shooting in a lot of snow lately, and not the kind on the ground. Blowing snow causes a few technical issues, as well as a few creative ones. Here is the short list the next time you photograph in a snowstorm.
1. Autofocus may not work. Depending on how heavy the snow is falling, autofocus may get confused and try to focus on falling snow. Switch to manual, and check your LCD for critical sharpness.
2. Use a lens hood. Lens hoods keep the snow from sticking to the front element of your lens, especially big telephotos. Avoid blurry spots in your final image, use a lens hood.
3. Use a lens rain cover. Many cameras can take a lot of abuse like getting soaked in falling snow, but why take the chance? I use a simple rain cover by Fotosharp to keep my gear dry.
4. Avoid condensation when returning to a warm room. Seal your camera in a bag, or just leave it in your photo backpack (zipped up) until the bag warms up.
5. Telephoto shots in heavy snow may not work well with distant subjects. I was shooting a 500mm in heavy snow in Yellowstone, and the compression of the lens along with shooting at distant subjects almost made the subjects unrecognizable. But falling snow can look terrific through a long lens if it isn’t snowing too heavy.
6. Choose a fast shutter speed to freeze the snowflakes. I’ve found I like to shoot fast in falling snow to freeze the flakes instead of getting blurry white streaks shooting around 1/60. I try to shoot 1/250 or faster in the snow.
7. Use a Hoodman Loupe. It is really hard to see your LCD in white conditions. Consider using a loupe.
8. Experiment with flash. Shoot a speed light in falling snow, and every little flake shines…this can make for some very creative effects…and for some throw outs.
9. Use ‘Clarity’ to make snow pop. The ‘Clarity’ slider in Photoshop does wonders in rendering snow more defined and sharp. I also love using Topaz Adjust 5 to bring winter scenes to life.
Go out and shoot in the next snowstorm, blowing snow makes for interesting and dynamic images.