10 Pro Tips for Snow Photography

10 Pro Tips for Snow Photography

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A snow covered landscape is always an attraction for every landscape photographer, for this reason every year I take almost two trip on the snow to take photos with beautiful icy and snowy sceneries. I love the colors of the sunset that reflects on the white that characterizes the landscapes this period of year. Photographing in the snow can give beautiful lights to your images, but to do the best you need to be prepared, which is why I have prepared this guide about 10 pro tips for snow photography

1. Save your Batteries

Cold is one of the downsite of snow photography, this reduces the battery longevity of your camera and all your electronic devices, including phone. One solution is to always have a spare battery and to put the camera on the bag when you don’t use it in order to keep your equipment warm

2. Be Careful of Condensation

This point is partly connected to the first one, before going from a cold to a warm environment remember to put your camera in your backpack. Switching from a cold environment to a heated indoor environment instantly creates condensation that can damage your camera and lenses

3. Set the Right White Balance

White balance is very important, especially when photographing in the snow. In snowy locations a trick is to set maually the white balance using Kelvin mode, this allows you to handle the white balance in various situations and set it on the light you have. If 5000K is the mid-day light a good starting point for white balance for snow is around 8000K

4 Use the Histogram

Using the histogram is very usefull in every photography situations not ony during snow photography, but in these cases the histogram takes on even more importance because it gives us a correct and graphic measurement of the exposure, avoiding relying only on a visual image in a prominent white scene

5. Find Colors and Contrasts

This is a compositional tip: in a mainly white scene playing with colors or strong contrasts helps the image to be pop or of greater impact for the viewer

6 Protect your Gear

When shooting in the snow some recommended precautions are:

  1. Keep the lens cap when you don’t use your camera to prevent moisture on the lens,
  2. If your lens becomes fogged avoid to blow warm air on it,
  3. Hold your breath when bringing your camera up to your face to take a picture could prevent fogging on your LCD screen and viewfinder

7 Use Polarizing Filters

Using a polarizing filter while shooting a snowy scene will help you cut through over-powering glare. The use of filters also reduces the light that passes through the lens and can make a great difference in the final result

8 Use Zoom Lenses

Images appear flat when there is nothing standing out in the foreground and most of the image is white. Snowy scenes are dominated by prominent colors over white. Getting closer on the main subject and its details is an interesting compositional solution to add depth to the image and make the image more captivating

9 Adjust the Exposure

In the white of the snow it may be necessary to have to adjust your exposure compensation to get the right light on the snow, in addition to this it is always useful to shoot in raw to be able to fix the exposure even in post with ease

10 Protect your Hands

While shooting landscapes we all use a lot the hands to interact with the camera, for this reason always having warm and dry hands is essential.
Having a pair of warm gloves that allow you to interact easily with the camera will prove to be the most important choice for the success of your winter photos


Relighting

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A shot on a mountain view in Passo Falzarego captured during a strongly overcasted day. The light that hit the top of the mountain seemed to turn on that mountainous stretch of lighter nature, giving great difference of colors and tones to the rest of the mountain, the cloudy sky of those days characterizes the surrounding environment of a truly very involving atmosphere

I captured this shot with my 70-200 by freehand, (thanks VR :)) I made 3 bracketing shots that I easily realigned in Photoshop when making my corrections


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I digital blend the shots using TTS Pro starting from the darker exposure I used the auto blend function with the brighter exposure. I corrected contrast, lights and colors than I applied details to the whole frame

I give a touch of orton effect as I usually do in my every mountainscape, because I really like this effect on the mountain scenery, with dodge and burn I fixed up the yellow light over the mountain and I lightened the dark part of the sky

Again with the use of luminosity masks I made some adjustments to the highlights and shadows, after adding a cooling filter I applied selective warm color to the mountain lightened by the sun

As final step I added a vignette and slightly reduced the exposure of the picture to increase the sense of dark atmosphere

I really hope you will find this usefull! I like to ear this from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 70-200 f/2,8 (used at 98 mm)

Single Shot

ISO: 100 at f/9

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


Dreamland

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This image comes from a freehand single shot during my last excursion along the dolomites. It is beautiful to see how the light filters through the mountains, leaving behind you a glimpse of a blue sky veiled with rays of yellow lights

Although from a first glance the forest and the mountains may seem on the same level they are actually at two completely different depths and during my editing with Photoshop I tried to increase these visual differences by increasing the contrasts and adjusting the exposures in this sense

I tried to let the viewer focus his attention on the scenery at the bottom but without decreasing the importance of what constitutes the forest at the foot of the mountain


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

As said at the beginning of this post this is a single shot, so for this photo I did not do digital blending but I only used the luminosity masks to correct lights, contrast and colors

I increased the light effect coming through the sky with dodge and burn and I launched orton effect as I usually do in every my lanscape. After a small push up of yellows tones, I decreased the blacks and the shadows in order to give more prominence to the mountain

With the use of clone stamp tool, I removed some bushes on the bottom of the picture that moves attention away and I manually create a vignette using the glow tool you can find insid my TTS Pro panel

I increased the colors increasing vibrance and a small decrease of expoure as last touch

I hope you will find this usefull! I’m happy to ear this from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Nikon 70-200 f/2,8 (used at 180 mm)

Single Shot

ISO: 320 at f/9

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


Afterlight II

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I took this photo earlier than my last posted last week.
In this photo I wanted instead to take a larger part of the frame by going to directly insert the reflection of the sun also inside the water

I absolutely love the winter scenery on mountain lakes, here conditions change continuously and every shot can give you totally different look

I closed the shutter to catch the spikes of the sun with the help of a series of shots taken later to eliminate the lens flare, some time ago I also wrote an article that I recommend you read on the topic: 5 useful tips to shoot into the sun direction

Putting the hand on the sun on the camera is a great way to have a shot without any lens flare, this allows you to have a clean shot very usefull to mask out all flares


WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I digital blended the exposure using TTS Pro, the blend focused mainly on lightening the shadows using the overexposed shot

As I saied on top I used the shot without reflections to eliminate the lens flare on the water and around the rock on the right

I increased the detail by removing the effect on the water, then I added a slight orton effect as I do in practically all my images

Always using my panel, I fixed contrast using luminosity masks applied to curves, I increased the color vibrance and I pushed up sun warmth by applying luminosity masks to a warming filters

As last steps I added a small vignette and pushed up the shadows using luminosity masks

I hope you will find this informations usefull! I like and I’m avaiable to ear feedback from you!


TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Sigma 24-70 f/2,8 (used at 31 mm)

Single Shot

ISO: 100 at f/13

Software: Photoshop CC2020

Plugin: TTS Pro


Mirror Hole

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During my visit to Lake Braies, I took a short ride along the lakeside looking for some interesting spots until I found this hole in the ice on the left side of the path

What struck me most about this spot was not so much finding an interesting composition, but to see how the trees and the mountain reflected in the hole in front of me. On the right side, the mountain reflects itself on the thin layer of existing ice

I took a series of 7 exposures brackting since the area where I was shooting was quite dark I wanted to have the full dynamic range available to intervene later with the digital blending

I take my shots a distance using my 14-24 lens set to 20 to not get too close to the hole where all around the ice was very thin, it was a little risky 🙂

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I opened all my shots inside Photoshop and I blended the exposures using TTS PRO with the use of luminosity masks I set the highlights and shadows to fix the sky and lighten the trees that was too dark

I increased details in the whole frame mitigating the effect by inserting a slight orton effect, which as you know I love to insert in almost all my images at low opacity

With dodge and burn I increased the lights over the ice and the reflections around the hole, giving more energy to the reflections and to that glow of light that is near the ice

I increased the purple colors a bit using camera raw filters and I put less blues using hue/saturation hand tool

I hope you will find this usefull. I’m happy to ear this from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Lens: Nikon 14-24mm f/2,8

Three Exposures Focus Stacked (-3 ; -2; –1; 0; +1; +2; +3)

ISO: 50 at f/9

Software: Photoshop CC2019

Plugin: TTS Pro



King of Snow

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Also this year I decide to spend a some days on the Italian Alps, these places are always beautiful and I really appreciate them also in winter, here we have Lake Carezza or rather the Latemar massif considering that the lake below is completely submerged in the snow

After the recent heavy rains in the autumn that caused extensive damage in many regions of northern Italy, this area has suffered too, on the road that leads to the lake I found hundreds of trees felled and collapsed due to bad weather and even the long lake Carezza not it was accessible

Despite this condition from the road it was possible the same to admire the lake Carezza and the Latemar massif due to the absence of trees that usually cover the view from the street. To have a greater width and depth of the scene I decided to photograph the lake through a photomerge, so I photographed the lake according to 3 sections, taking care not to exclude any element between one photo and the other, with bracketing mode to 3 shots

 

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I’m not a great fan of Photomerge because it increases the work in Photoshop, but I must admit that it is of great help when you want to give a greater photographic composition, to do this work I captured three bracketing images per horizontal group, respectively the mountain, the central body of the photo and the foreground

I discarded the darker ones and I worked exclusively on the middle shot and the brightest shot of the bracketing series, so I created two photomerges which I then used for digital blending. With the full image avaiable I started working on it to intensify the colors, here I used the Color efex pro plugin to boost up of the golden hour tones

Then I increased the contrast and details with the help of my TTS PRO panel. I used the dodge and burn applied to the luminosity masks darks to lighten the trees under the latemar massif and to darken and then bring out the details of the mountain, with the colors I intensified the yellow levels and slightly lowered the blue ones

I intensified the highlights and applied a slight orton effect to increase the photo’s glow level, as a final step I again adjusted the contrast of the photo and the brightness through the layers adjustment layers

 

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Lens: Nikon 14-24mm f/2,8

Three Exposures (-1; 0; +1;)

ISO: 50 at f/10

Software: Photoshop CC2019

Plugin: TTS Pro, Color Efex Pro


Jewel on the Hill

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In my latest post I talked about Civita and why it is also called the dying city. The morphology of this area has been caused by erosion and landslides, that has brought civilization to abandon in the past this place in and which has led to its total abandonment by the inhabitants. Today, only very few people live in Civita, mostly owners of restaurants and small bars that are located inside and offer service to tourists

Civita can only be reached via a reinforced concrete pedestrian bridge. The bridge can only be walked on foot but the town of Bagnoregio, meeting the needs of those who live or work in this place, issued a circular stating that, at certain times, residents and authorized persons can cross the bridge on board of cycles and motorcycles

I took this photo in the hill in front of the town, is one of the best views of the ancient city of Civita, compared to the previous photo this is taken before in fact the color of the sky was more typical golden hour, from here you can admire the beautiful progressive setting of the sun over the town

 

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I selected a couple of shots (brighter and darker) to blend them using auto blend function inside my panel  TTS PRO

After this I selected luminosity masks to make other changes over the sky and over the darks to fix them better. The main difficult of this picture was to manage the lack of brightness of the shadows, in fact my goal was to clear them but without losing the natural look of the photo

A great hand provided me with my panel with the color masks function, I was able to intervene simply on the yellows going to increase the color on the part in the shade illuminated by sunlight, with a single click I got an effect very soft and natural, I repeated the same operation instead on the contrary on the town that had bright yellow colors

I applied a cold filter applied to luminosity mask to the sky and I launched orton effect to give a soft look to this image, I love the effect that orton effect generate on landscapes.

The final touch was to add a bit of sharpen and handle the contrast between the highlights and shadows

I hope you will find this usefull. I’m happy to ear this from you!

 

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Lens: Nikon 14-24mm f/2,8

Three Exposures (-1; 0; +1;)

ISO: 50 at f/10

Software: Photoshop CC2019

Plugin: TTS Pro

 


Vernazza Sunset

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One of the most significant sunsets of the Cinque Terre is located in Vernazza, from this incredible spot you can portray the town of Vernazza with all its characteristic elements … the vegetation, the sea, the sun and the coast as well as the town that extends towards the sea

When I decided to travel the Cinque Terre I had this shot among my main objectives and that day I fortunately found a great light with a beautiful colored sky

I go to this spot several minutes before sunset armed with beer and chips to deceive the time once the tripod was placed 🙂

I did all long exposures in bracketing mode since I was shooting directly into the sun direction if I had not had many shots to blend would have been difficult have a non burned sky

Even the long exposure is a requirement that I love in the maritime locations like Vernazza where the water that breaks on the rocks always creates that typical silk effect that I really like. I shot 7 exposure brackets shot with longest on 48 seconds with ND64 filter

 

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I blended the exposure taken starting from the darkest images, where I gradually move frame to the brightest. With my brand new panel TTS PRO I used luminosity mask contrast function to fix the contrast on the various areas of the picture having great control of them

I make a light bleeding over the sun and on the plants in the foreground and after I removed all the lens flares in the image using eyedropper tool with paint brush in a brand new layer with soft light fusion mode.

With dodge and burn tool I fixed the remaining spot of strong light caused of lens flare, after this always using my panel I launched warm highlights funcion to give a touch of more yellow on the frame reducing the opacity to decrease the effect. After giving to the image a stronger look with more details, I increased a bit the vibrance and I give more light to the shadows for not having them too dark

I always hope you will find this usefull. Love to ear this from you!

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Lens: Nikon 14-24mm f/2,8 (Shot at 20mm)

Seven Exposure ( -3; -2; -1; 0; +1; +2; +3)

ISO: 100 at f/11

Software: Photoshop CC2018

Plugin: TTS Pro

 

 


Hide and Seek

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Hi everyone, this is an old find inside a folder of photos taken years ago in the Regional Park of Gran Sasso. What we see is the Corno Grande, the highest peak in the Apennine range

I love this place, it is natural wild, sometimes inhospitable and above all very quiet, at the sight of the mountain overlooking the whole valley below and is completely different from the rest of the landscape. I recommend everyone to take a trip around here if you do not know Abruzzo is a milestone for photography enthusiasts and is just over an hour’s drive from Rome

I captured this photo with my old nikon 18-105 and I got the image from 3 bracketing shots at sunset while I waited for the sun to start taking some photos to the stars

 

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I discarted the overexposed picture and I merged the two shots using luminosity masks, I used lights applied to curves to fix lighting, always using the masks I reduced darks and adjusted contrast in the frame. With the use of TTS Fast Panel I increased details and applied a soft orton effect



I corrected colors using auto adjust, then I decreased the effect reducing the opacity. With a soft dodge and burn I recover the exposure in the darker part of the mountain and increased the colors around the Corno Grande. I reduced a bit the noise I increased the lights behind the mountain, after I decreased the light in the whole frame to make a more dark look and create more atmoshphere

As always I hope you will find this info usefull. I’m always happy to ear it from you!

 

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Lens: Nikon 18-105mm f/3,5 (Shot at 34mm)

Three Exposures (-1; 0; +1)

ISO: 100 at f/11

Software: Photoshop CC2017

Extensions: TTS Fast Panel

 


The Wall

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View of the lake of Stua inside the park of dolomites near Belluno, this artificial lake is located next to a small dam that serves the path in Val Canazoi. The view on the lake is very interesting also because it is facilitated by a terrace that overlooks this view

It would have been interesting to come down on the frozen surface and take some pictures with interesting shots from below but the ice surface did not allow it, so i decided to took the the framing close up the mountain because I love that light that touches the trees under it

 

WORKFLOW EXPLANATION

I take some exposure bracketing but I decided to work on a single image, I fixed lights and contrasts using luminosity masks between the trees and the sky. With TTS Fast Panel I launched details and orton effect to increase details and give after a softener effect through the forest

With the use of dodge and burn I lightened some darker areas between the trees and on the snow peaks of the mountain. After a contrast fix I put a filter mix between warm and cool fixing fixing the effect decreasing the opacity between two

To use this filter I applied the warmer filter and the cooler filter to lights luminosity masks. Last touch was to fix some contrast and fix the highlights. I hope you will find all this usefull. I love to ear this from you

 

TECNHNICAL STUFF

Camera: Nikon D-800

Lens: Sigma 24-70mm f/2,8 (Shot at 46mm)

Single shot

ISO: 100 at f/13

Software: Photoshop CC2017

Extensions: TTS Fast Panel

 

 

 


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Hi, my name is Giuseppe Sapori, a professional photographer and author of this website, created by yours truly to show my work and share with you the techniques I use. My expertise is in the field of Landscape Photography... (Read More)

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