greglessardphotography.com: Articles


Adventures in Photography: Let the Snow Fly
by Greg Lessard

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Photographing snow can be a very difficult challenge. Keeping your fingers from getting frostbitten and your camera from freezing, or worse getting melted snow inside of it, are essential. In this article, I will offer a few tips to keep your fingers and camera equipment in good shape during the winter season.
Essential Equipment:
Plastic shopping bags. That’s right. A plastic shopping bag, the kind you get from any grocery store, can be turned into a low cost rain/snow jacket for your camera. Simply tear a lens size hole in the bottom of the bag. Then place your camera lens through the hole, leaving just the very edge sticking out. The rest of the camera will be covered in a protective plastic liner. For particularly wet days, having more than one bag on hand is a good idea. Please be sure to recycle the bags when you are done.


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Mittens with removable finger tips and glove liners are also essential. Working bare handed with a cold metal tripod on a snowy day in sub freezing temperatures is a great recipe for frostbitten fingers. However, manipulating camera controls with bulky winter gloves is next to impossible. What’s a photographer to do? Keep your hands warm by wearing a very thin glove liner underneath mittens with a flip up top. When you are ready to take a shot, simply flip the top of the mittens up, exposing your glove lined finger tips. This allows you to manipulate the intricate camera controls while keeping your fingers protected from the elements.
For the best results, try to shoot snow within the first 24 hours after it has fallen. The snow is usually fresh and clean looking. After a while snow tends to get dirty and often it freezes over leaving an undesirable, glaring sheen of ice. If it is possible, try to photograph while the snow is still falling. This adds to the over all chilly atmosphere of the image.


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The photograph featured in this article is of a bough of holly on a red barn door in a snow storm. There are many elements that make this a good photo. First and foremost, the holly tells the story of Christmas. It practically shouts “Seasons Greetings” to the viewer. The aged texture of the shingles on the barn wall implies a lot about the gritty character of Yankee New Englanders from an age gone by. The red on the door is the classic color for a New England Farm. It also reinforces the Holiday theme. The snow represents winter in all its glory, while the keen observer will notice the snow flakes contrasted against the red door. These flying snow flakes give life to the photo, reminding the viewer of Jack Frost and Old Man Winter.
With a little preparation, we can tame the harshest winter day and make outstanding images of classic New England landscapes. So get your mittens and scarves out and take a walk in a winter wonderland.


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Correct Exposure for Snow:
Getting snow to look white in your shots is an easy skill once you take your camera off its automatic settings. Switch your camera to manual mode and point it at the snow. Then read your camera’s light meter, which is usually located at the bottom of the frame. The correct exposure setting for snow should be +1 to +1 1/2 stops above middle grey or zero on the light meter. At +2, the snow will be overexposed or burned out. It will look white with no texture. At a setting of less than +1, the snow will be underexposed and look grey.


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