As you know, I am an avid photographer and my camera comes with me everywhere I go. While I might love lugging my camera kit around with me, it’s not the same priority for everyone. Now that we all have pretty powerful camera-phones and smartphones with plenty of megapixels or even Leica lenses at our disposal we’re all documenting our experiences all the time.
The problem many people have though, is taking good pictures in the snow on your smartphone. Phone cameras might be getting very sophisticated, but they’re never going to give you the same level of control over your shots, so you have to be creative. Here are some of my top tips for smartphone photography in the snow.
1. Play around with perspective.
You’re already in your winter sports gear so don’t be afraid to get on the ground and look up at the world instead. You can get some really impressive shots of trees from ground level, creating effects with dark shadows, extreme contrasts and reflecting lights; much more exciting than shooting the same tree from eye height. Bring a light tripod or a compact mount to wrap your smartphone around high branches and take the shot with your timer. You can get really incredible shots and those grips usually fit in your inside jacket pocket.
Playing around with perspective and shadows can make for some really exciting photos that will have everyone admiring your work.
2. Hit the Snow mode.
If you have a really good smartphone you might have a snow mode, or be able to play around with the exposure settings. Autoexposure generally makes snow look a bit grey rather than the sparkling white you see with your own eyes. Also, snow reflects a lot of light, so autoexposure can help to dull this down.
You want to slightly overexpose the shot, usually I set my camera on f/8 to capture all the detail. It’s better to get the right detail in the shot you take. You can adjust exposure by incrementing to +1 +2 or -1 -2 or by simply using a light meter to get the proper exposure. It’s better to play around with focal and speed than to digitally alter an underexposed photo – the detail just won’t be there. Discover where to go skiing this winter to take superb nature shots: Verbier, Chamonix Courchevel or Val d’Isere.
3. Use contrast to your advantage.
Autofocus can struggle to get a grip on shots where there’s a lot of white and not much else. Set your autofocus spot to somewhere in the frame where there is some contrast to avoid getting lots of blurry, unfocused shots. A good amount of contrast also makes for a more exciting and detailed image, and you can always digitally increase the contrast if you need to, but you’ll get a better result by taking a great picture in the first place.
4. Winter shadows for dramatic effects.
Trees in the snow
Playing around with perspective and shadows can make for some really exciting photos that will have everyone admiring your work. Trees, people, skis upright in the snow, all these things will cast stunning shadows that will enhance your photography. Take a look at some useful photo kit for your smartphone or camera.
Inspiring Black and White photos
Consider converting some photos to black and white. Taking photos in town is part of the winter holiday experience, but outdoor lighting can lend an orange glow to the snow, which is hard to correct digitally without also losing colour elsewhere.
Footsteps or Virgin Snow ?
Think about where your feet are. If you want to get a shot of virgin snow you need to make sure you’re up and about early, and that you haven’t just walked across the shot you want to take.
5. How to get pictures of snow falling?
Use The Pro-Mode
Camera-phones don’t have the type of super quick shutter speed you need to capture snow falling. I personally use the Pro Mode on my smartphone and play with longer exposures, shutter speeds and apertures to create the kind of atmosphere I want.
LED lighting are great!
I rarely use the flash. The snow is highly reflective and I often end-up with photos covered by big white blobs on dark backgrounds. I prefer indirect lights like a LED lighting, especially if you take portraits. Many are dimmable, which is great to adjust the brightness to your needs and get the creative effects you want. And if you’re really bored trying, there’s plenty of Apps to download from your store to add cool snow effects on your photos!