Tips for Photographing Snowflakes

Photographer David Flores prepares us to capture snowflakes, now that winter is finally upon us. Flores addresses discusses aspects of the lens, camera settings, and shares composition tips. You are going to want to get close and work quickly, because snowflakes are small and tend to melt. We invite you to view our wide selection of instructional and informative videos at BandH.com.

2 Comments

Hey, thanks for these tips! I wanted to go out in a blistering snow and catch the snow blowing past the glow of a halogen street light and I wanted to play around with various effects, to include longer exposure to get the elongated line effects but I had a hard time with both the cold and with trying to shoot in manual and get enough light at a slower shutter speed. Does any of this make sense/ i'm new at this. Suggestions?

For assistance in shooting in cold weather with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, the Ruggard DSLR Parka Cold and Rain Protector for Cameras and Camcorders (Black), B&H # RUPACLB, would be a good accessory.  It is basically a jacket for your camera, and is insulated to keep the camera (and your hands) warm when shooting in cold weather.  It also protects the camera from snow, rain, mud, dust, and other environmental elements (an additional benefit if your camera is not weather-sealed).  I would also recommend keeping a few extra batteries on you, as cold weather zaps battery life.  Keep your spare batteries in an inside pocket in your jacket or in a pocket close to your body to keep them warm.

Trying to get snow to make long line effects can be difficult as snow does not generally fall in a straight line.  However, a few tips would be to mount your camera on a sturdy tripod and use a lens with a medium or long focal length, which will help compress the falling snow.  You would also want to shoot in Shutter Priority mode or Manual mode so you can set your own shutter speed.  Which shutter speed you use will both depend on how fast/hard the snow is falling, and if there is any wind blowing (and if so, how strong the wind may be).  With all these variables, it will require some experimentation.  However, I would recommend trying shutter speeds between 1/80 sec to 1/15 sec, depending on the factors.  Using the halogen light to side-light or back-light the falling snow can create some interesting effects.  In low-lighting, you may need to use a higher ISO setting to retain the shutter speed to get the size streaks you wish to capture.

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