When it snows we all like to grab our camera to take fun pictures of our kids and pets and, heck, the snow itself. But great snow pictures can be a little challenging. Why? Your camera’s light meter.
Light meters try to measure everything to a neutral gray color. In other words, they try to figure out the light necessary to make white look gray and to make black look gray and to make, well, everything look like a neutral gray. Therefore, when you see dark or “muddy” looking snow in your pictures rather than a bright white snow it is most likely because the camera decided to open and close the shutter a little faster than you would of if you had manually measured the light and adjusted the manual settings on your camera.
But hey, you have a great camera and you just want great pics….not the details necessary to become a National Geographic photographer.
So how do you take great snow pictures? You cheat.
If your camera allows, and nearly every DSLR I’ve seen will allow you, you can simply bump up your exposure compensation dial (look for the EV control.) by a full stop (1) or maybe even a stop and a third or a stop and 2/3, depending. If you have a point and shoot camera you can probably still accomplish this though it will be a little more cumbersome. You can probably find it in your Menu section of your camera.
Take a look at these two photos pretty much straight out of the camera.
Which snow looks brighter and which snow looks dark and muddy? This works for your kids and and when you take the family skiing, as well. Another way to cheat is to simply get a close up meter reading of your sleeve. (Provided your sleeve is neither black nor white. Gray is perfect!!!!) That’s probably the shutter speed and aperture you’ll need for all your shots so set your camera on manual to those settings…unless the lighting changes. Go ahead. Give it a try.