The powerful light and reflection of the white season offers a lot of opportunities for an amazing subject but also can represent a difficult challenge for the exposure.
Most of the times the winter photography will turn out underexposed due to the lack of known information and rules. In this type of digital photography the rules are very important, and if followed will create a festival of light inside a digital picture.
The main problem in the case of winter photography is the fact that the system measuring the digital camera exposure is “tricked” by the large quantity of light coming from a frame filed with snow.
Generally the measurement system of the camera “reads” the snow as a grey tone –most of the cases in a quantity of 18 % – and this way in the photography the white will stand out as grey. In order to avoid this inconvenience the exposure needs to be compensated.
In conclusion it is wise to avoid setting the camera on “auto” mode in order to get the correct exposure for a frame containing a lot of snow. The best choice is to over expose manually, verifying the result by taking several compensation shots until you reach the correct exposure rate.
The things are changing if you need to take the picture of a person or another subject positioned in the snow. The exposure correction advised above will over expose the subject.
In this case you need to decide what the main topic interest of the photography is: the subject or the snow. If you want to take a portrait picture then create the right exposure so the face will appear in natural tones forget the rule of extra exposure.
If you can’t measure the subject’s exposure, for example when your subject moves quickly skiing or sleighing, the right way to measure it, is do it on your own skin for example on the hand, and keep the setting for the picture you are about to take.
As long as there are conditions for luminosity and your skin tone is similar to the one of the subject, you will get a perfect photo.
Another important aspect of the winter photography is the texture of the snow. If the photography is done in a cloudy day, the light will be “plain” and the texture will fade.
There is need for side luminosity in order to go creating shadows and bringing forward the texture to create an interesting surface. The light can be natural or artificial but it requires attention during the setting of the balance of white.
Usually the best moments of the day for taking digital pictures of a snowy landscape is very early in the morning or in the evening.