When it snows in the mountains of Colorado, you can hear the locals shout POWDER DAY! Those of us who don’t alpine ski, but who LOVE photographing snow it’s time to get out and play.
Snow-laden spruce and fir, snow-covered mountainsides, and the pure white of new snowfall make for wonderful subjects. The challenge is to grab your gear and drive, hike, bike to locations before the snow melts. We get bluebird skies here in Colorado, even on days with a foot of snow; get out early to take advantage of a small window of opportunity for great images before the snow melts from the trees. I also prefer to photograph mountains with snow; I think they look better, bigger and more seductive than when snow has melted in the spring, summer and fall.
Here are a few hints for proper gear.
- Bring snowshoes, gaiters, hand warmers, thermos of your favorite hot beverage, gloves, hat.
- And for the more adventurous, load up your x-country skis too
- When pulling over to the side of the road, be sure your car is safely parked, away from any ditches.
- If you’re hiking, wear waterproof boots, gaiters, and be cautious of “tunneling” into the snow banks.
- When using a tripod for deep depth of field, make sure the legs are secure. Sometimes the snow melts and the legs “plunge” into the snow. Take time to set up your composition and check it carefully.
Now some hints for improving your photography.
- Give your subjects a sense of place and grandeur.
- Use shadow and highlight to your advantage.
- For hand-held photos without your tripod, set your ISO to 500 (so you can achieve deep depth of field when needed)
- Set your exposure bias (+ -) for a bit of overexposure (+), but don’t overdo it. I like +.07
- Focus on the nearest object in the frame, and let a small aperture capture the rest clearly (f22-32)