Shooting photos while enjoying a day on the slopes can be challenging, and it’s easy to come home with results that miss the majesty and exhilaration of being in the great, snowy outdoors. With a few simple tips and a bit of practice, you can bring home stunning mid-winter memories.
If you’re cold, you’ll rush, so a good jacket, synthetic underlayers and a toque are crucial. Also, try wearing thin gloves under your mittens to stave off numb fingers while operating your camera.
You also need to protect your camera and equipment by keeping them warm, dry and safe from being knocked around. Try burying your camera beneath several layers of clothing in a Ziploc bag or, better yet, in a protective case. And remember that the cold will wreak havoc on battery strength, so only use brand new or freshly charged ones out in the field.
Your camera is programmed to make each picture appear at medium or average darkness. But because the white stuff is so bright, and your camera wants to make it look gray, you have to fool the technology. Try using “snow/beach” mode (if your camera has one), otherwise the surest way to solve this problem is by shooting in Program mode (P), and setting your “exposure compensation” (see your camera’s manual) to +1.0. Alternatively, if you want to make the snow even brighter, try experimenting with +1 1/3 or +1 2/3. It’s also a great idea to try and include a single, colourful subject (like a neon-clad skier) before an otherwise monochrome, snow-covered landscape. To avoid shaded faces and dark outlines, turn on your flash and shoot with the sun at your back.
Get in Motion
If you want to convey motion in your photos, you can use shutter speeds of 1/1000 of a second or faster to freeze fast action. Alternatively, set the shutter to 1/30 and pan as a skier or snowboarder blows past you, which will blur the background and capture their momentum. Digital delay can cause you to miss a shot; try pre-focusing your camera on the snow, holding the shutter halfway down, and then shooting when the skier arrives.
Bruce Kirkby’s photo tips: Shooting Landscapes
I first noticed the tarn—a small mountain lake or pool, for those in low-lying locales—while scanning a map. Tucked deep in the Purcell Mountains, a subset of the Columbia Mountains, west of the Rockies, it lies not far from my home in the BC interior, amidst a swirl of high peaks and ridges.
Yet, no logging road is carved into the valley where it is, nor does a marked trail lead to its shore. And, most notably, it is large—nearly a square kilometre.
Bruce Kirkby’s photo tips: How to take perfect pictures in the snow
A decade ago, shooting winter scenes was a serious photographic challenge. Unforgiving film, coupled with the glare of the snow, made getting the right exposure tricky.
Today, advanced metering (found in even the most rudimentary digital point-and-shoot cameras) solves most exposure issues. And, with the ability to review results in the field, make adjustments and then tweak digital files back at home, no one should hesitate to yank their cameras out on a sunny winter’s day.