Enduring the freezing temperatures while sitting in snow for hours may be the first challenge that pops to your mind when thinking about snow photography. It certainly was not the last. There were many more.
I was thrilled when I learned I'd be spending this winter in Finland, giving me the opportunity to experiment with snow photography. Having never photographed snow before, I got myself physically and mentally ready. But when I arrived, I found that while physically I was quite prepared for the challenges, my technical skills needed great improvement.
My first attempt at snow photography was a disaster. It is a second nature for me to over-expose when taking photos of bright colours. I do regularly, even in Australia. However, what I didn't expect was the unpredictable colours the camera would pick up. Sometimes my photos came out red or purple. Mostly, however, they came out blue. Often, the colour was so intense that it ‘burned’ the blue channel, making it impossible to recover during post-processing. That meant that I could not rely on Photoshop but had to get the exposure right when taking the picture.
This was not simple, especially as the sun would go down and the colours would change from one moment to the next, which required changing the white balance every few minutes. It also meant that every few minutes I had to take off my gloves to change the settings, exposing my fingers to the freezing air, shifting the blue from the photos onto my numb fingers. I later learned that this was normal for photographers in the snow.
The solution was to have both gloves and mittens. That allowed me to shorten the time my fingers were with no cover at all. Being a spoiled hot-weather person, I even inserted heating pads into my mittens. I do not think I could have survived without them. And the results? Here are two sample photos. The first is before I learned to adjust the blues, the second after.