Taking Photos in Snow

We’ve had a lot of snow this year so far and apparently we’re expecting more this weekend. The annoying thing about when there’s snow is that it’s difficult to get about in the car or even walking or the bike so you’re more or less confined to your own immediate locality. Then if you have a boring locality like I do you run out of things to take photos of in the snow.  I would love to get into the town when there’s snow and take shots of the city. But it’s difficult to get in so I have to resort to taking pictures of my dog and cats in the snow.

Conor the snow cat

So what settings do we need for snow photography? Let’s start with complete beginners. Perhaps you have a small compact camera or a bridge camera. If so then your best setting is easy. It’s Snow Scene Mode. If you have a mode dial on the top of your camera you just turn it to SCN or similar.


Then go to the menu in your camera and you should find all your scene settings there. You need to look for the one called Snow Scene and it may be illustrated with a snowman or a snowflake. When you use this setting the camera is custom set for shooting in snow.

If your camera doesn’t have a mode dial on it then you should find your scene settings in the menu. You are looking for ‘shooting settings’ or ‘shooting modes’ and you will find your scene settings within these modes.

Another good way to shoot snow whatever your camera is to turn your mode dial to P. Again, if you don’t have a mode dial go to the shooting modes and find P  which for programme. Once you have the camera in P then you will need to check you are using the right ISO and White Balance.  I suggest using 400 ISO.  Check the sky and if it is a cloudy day then turn the White Balance setting to Cloudy. If it is a sunny day set the White Balance to Sunny. Don’t leave the White Balance on auto as the camera can totally miss it in snowy scenes and you can end up with blue snow!

Then there is just one more thing you need to do if you are shooting in P.  You need to find your exposure compensation button which, if you have one it should be on the back of your camera. It’s a button with a plus and a minus sign on it.

Exposure Compensation

Press or hold in that button and on your LCD screen you should see a scale with 0 in the middle and a plus at one end and a minus at the other.

Exposure compensation scale set at plus one.

When you are shooting in snow you need to use your main dial to move the indicator to the plus one. Doing this will give you whiter snow in your scene.

You can also use your exposure compensation if you are shooting in shutter or aperture priority.

If you are shooting in full manual your exposure compensation will have no effect. Instead you meter the scene and then adjust your shutter speed so it’s half the speed you had it at or you adjust your aperture so it’s wider.

If you are using a phone you may be at the mercy of a ‘point and shoot’ system which could mean your pictures end up with a dull blue look to them.

Captured on phone on Auto.

However many phones do have some camera settings so look up White Balance, exposure compensation or scene modes.


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