Snowfall brings beauty and excitement to winter, and it’s the most amazing time of year for photography. A fresh blanket of snow will turn a drab landscape into a bright, beautiful scene. And it’s the perfect opportunity to capture great action shots as people interact with this new environment. In this article you’ll discover ten fun ways to create stunning winter iPhone photos in snowy conditions.
1. Don’t Wait For A Sunny Day
In the winter it can be hard to motivate yourself to go out on a dismal day to take photos. However, this type of weather can create beautiful ethereal scenes when there’s snow on the ground.
With an all white landscape and an all white background, the only items left to concentrate on are the subjects of the photo. This makes for incredible winter photos.
So don’t wait for blue skies to take snow photos. Venture out in thick fog or a snow storm, and use your imagination to create interesting stories that make the most of the dramatic or mysterious scene.
2. Shoot A Location You Might Usually Overlook
Snow completely changes the landscape, covering up dark and messy foregrounds with a fresh white blanket. Make the most of this opportunity to capture scenes that might not normally be very photogenic.
Is there a shed or a tree that you’ve always adored but never shot due to its surroundings? Perhaps the owner left a lot of garbage in the yard alongside the shed, or there’s a heap of mud or yard waste near the tree.
I’ve passed this shed countless times and never felt motivated to photograph it until this particular day when the fresh snow covered all of the garbage surrounding it!
Maybe your landscape or forest photos never really looked great because of a dark and featureless foreground.
A fresh coat of snow will present you with some great new location opportunities and some much needed contrast in your winter landscape photos.
3. Adjust The Exposure
The problem with snowy scenes is that the large areas of white can trick the iPhone’s camera into under-exposing the photo.
Basically, the camera looks at the scene, sees all the white, and thinks it’s too bright. So it reduces the exposure which effectively makes the snow look grey.
To ensure the snow appears fresh and bright, you often need to adjust the exposure levels before you take the shot. To do this, start by tapping to set focus on your subject, then simply swipe up on the screen to increase the brightness.
Be careful not to make the image too bright though, otherwise you’ll lose all of the detail and texture in the snow.
4. Use Snow As A Huge White Studio
Snow provides you with a wonderful clean background to use in your photography. It’s basically like having a huge white studio at your disposal.
All you have to do is shoot from a vantage point that allows you to use the snowy ground as your backdrop.
I often stand on my deck and shoot straight down onto my subjects below. Alternatively, I use my Joby GorillaPod tripod and a timer app such as Fast Camera so that I can use myself as the subject.
Using my iPhone tripod, I position my iPhone high up on the deck or a ladder so that the camera is pointing downward. Then I play with all sorts of poses and props while laying in the snow!
5. Use Props To Add A Splash Of Color
One of my favorite techniques for shooting in snow is to use a prop to add a splash of vibrant color to the scene.
A pop of red or other vibrant color against a white background adds a strong focal point that will instantly catch the viewer’s eye.
Look for colorful items that will make your viewer smile. A colorful umbrella, sticker, toy, chair, kitchen object or even an item of clothing will make a great addition to your snow photos.
Think carefully about the composition, especially if there are no other objects in the photo. It often creates a more natural and balanced photo if you position the prop off-center within the frame.
6. Photograph People Playing In Snow
One of the best things about wintery weather is that it brings people out to play in the snow. There are so many fun things to do in the snow, and this kind of activity is great for iPhone photography.
Capture people throwing snow in the air, having snowball fights, sledding or skiing down a hill. Photograph them making snowmen or lying in the snow as they make snow angels.
For action shots, use burst mode to catch just the right moment. Simply hold down the shutter button to capture a series of photos as the subject moves through the scene, then select the best shot from the sequence.
7. Capture Emotions
Emotions often run high in snowy conditions – be it a happy child, an elated pet dog, or a disgruntled snow-shoveler.
Capturing these emotions in your photos will help you tell more interesting and compelling stories that will connect the viewer to your subjects.
Get close to your subject so that you can capture their facial expressions. Using burst mode will help ensure you catch the perfect expression at just the right moment.
Make sure your subject is well lit so that their facial features can be easily seen. Positioning yourself with the light source behind you will ensure your subject is properly illuminated.
8. Shoot Minimal Landscapes
Snow provides the perfect opportunity for creating stunning minimalist landscape photos.
Using just a sliver of white at the bottom of your frame, together with a large amount of sky, allows you to create a clean and beautiful photo of a winter landscape.
Try to find a lone figure or tree to act as the focal point, and experiment with the position of the subject to create an interesting and balanced composition.
9. Shoot Close-Up Photos
Another great technique is to get down low and focus your camera on some lovely frost or ice.
This allows you to capture wonderful detail, and holding your iPhone close to the subject will create a shallow depth of field where the background appears beautifully blurred.
A helpful tip for this kind of photography is to flip your iPhone upside down when you shoot so that the camera lens is even closer to the ground. This makes for an incredible viewpoint.
10. Edit To Enhance A Snowy Scene
When you take snow shots, there are often a lot of areas that you might want to clean up in post-processing, such as snowy footprints, dirt, bits of grass, a stray corner of a leaf, etc.
You might also find that the snow appears too dark. So the first thing I always do when editing a photo is to “up” the highlights and exposure to brighten the snow.
Increasing these two settings will make a huge difference. They usually clean up most of the scene without having to do anything else. Upping the contrast can help too.
If you still need to get rid of distractions in the snow, you can easily remove any unwanted objects using the TouchRetouch app.
Finally, if you’d like to add some falling snowflakes to your shot, the Mextures app has a “blizzard” filter that can simulate falling snow.
I hope these tips encourage you to try out some new ideas for your winter iPhone photography in the snow. Happy shooting!
These are lovely tips, but how do you make sure your iPhone doesn’t die on you in the cold weather? Neither my old or new iPhone survives for more than a few minutes before dying until it defrosts somewhere indoors.
Jill Cherwenka Emmer says
See above for my reply!
Jill Cherwenka Emmer says
Hi! Yes mine freezes up as well! Especially my new 6s. This week will be the real challenge now that we have reached below zero Fahrenheit. I have been keeping my phone as close to my body as possible. In an internal pocket. Then only pulling it out as needed. I have a jacket that has two pockets that lay side by side. In one of the pockets I keep a hand-warmer. I place my phone in the other pocket. That way is isn’t directly in contact with the warmer but still benefits from the heat. I only expose it to the elements to shoot and then quickly put it back in. Hope that helps!!
Liz Anderson says
Hi Jill. What a great article! You give great suggestions about exposure in snowy scenes. I think I have always tended to lower the exposure. Who knew? Also, the idea of increasing exposure and the highlights in post processing. Can’t wait to try those and all the ideas you gave about possible scenes. We are off to the snow this week. Good timing. Oh, and I love the photo of you in your high heels in the snow. 🙂
Kate Wesson says
Thanks for this great tutorial Jill, and I absolutely love these photos. I’m off to the snow this weekend so will definitely be using some of these tips 🙂
Arline Vinson says
Another interesting article. Fortunately we are working-snowbirds. I enjoy others’ photos. Thanks again
Kate Wesson says
Looking at other people’s photos can be just as enjoyable as taking your own pictures 🙂
Dawn W Bertuca says
Really good tips! I might actually be looking forward to our first snowfall now! 😀
Lesley Lane Fenton says
I’m a huge fan Jill and jump at every chance to see your tutorials or tips. These are great as we are heading into that season
Mary Wray says
Jill!!!! Your distinctive work always makes me so happy!! Beautiful, as always 🙌🏻😘
Barbara Hagger says
Thanks for a great article, am off to the Arctic next week, so perfect timing. And being form Oz, don’t have many snow photo ops.