Shooting Snow

Ring-necked Pheasant at the Horicon Marsh

Seven inches of snow fell in the Horicon Marsh area a few days ago and more is on the way.  The winter wonderland creates some great opportunities for photography.  Snow presents some challenges for proper exposure, especially if the sun is shining.  Often, photos of snow look gray and flat.

 Ring-necked Pheasant at the Horicon Marsh

This Ring-necked Pheasant was a pleasant surprise.  He meandered along the side of Palmatory Street in Horicon undisturbed by my car.  I drove alongside him and stopped occasionally to snap a few pictures.  He displayed no fear as he walked closer to inspect my car.  He did look both ways before crossing.  I’m not kidding.  Eventually, he walked in front of the car and I waited until he roamed back into the snowy brush.  I focused on his head when taking his picture.  I didn’t care if the snow was a bit overexposed in this case.  I was more concerned about the Pheasant being exposed properly.


Bridge at the Horicon Marsh

Bridge at Theiler Park, Mayville

I switched to manual mode when a correct exposure of the snow was important to the photo.  I set the ISO to 200 since less sensitivity to light is needed.  The aperture was set to give me the depth of field I wanted.  I experimented with having the whole bridge in focus and having the back of the bridge go out of focus.  Then I adjusted the shutter speed until the exposure level scale at the bottom of the viewfinder was in the center.  I took a shot and looked at the histogram.  I wanted the right-most color in the RGB graph to be just at the right edge of the graph.  If it wasn’t, I adjusted the shutter speed up or down.  For RAW images, we want the right-most color on the graph to touch the right edge of the graph without climbing up.  For JPEG images, we want the right-most color to be just short of the right edge of the graph.


Bridge at the Horicon Marsh

Using a Polarizing Filter

I added a polarizing filter and took a few more shots using the above technique.  I stood about 90 degrees to the sun and rotated the filter until I could see more texture in the snow.  It darkened the sky and cut the glare on the snow.

 Bridge at the Horicon Marsh

I would love to have spent more time playing with depth of field and composition, but it was only 10 degrees and breezy.  Fingerless gloves allowed me to work the controls on the camera.  A couple of hand warmers in my pockets kept my fingers warm.  I just discovered these biodegradable hand warmers from L. L. Bean.  Just open the package and they start to warm up.  After returning home, the warmers went in my slippers to warm up my toes.  They last up to 10 hours.

Awesome Hand Warmers

Before getting back in my warm car, I put my camera in a plastic bag.  Then I put it in my camera bag.  When I got home, I let the bag warm up before removing my camera.  Condensation stayed on the outside of the plastic bag and not in my camera.  I made myself a hot cup of tea while waiting for the camera to warm up.

It is early in the winter season and there will be plenty more opportunities to play in the snow.  If only it could be 70 degrees at the same time.


Note:  I do not receive any compensation from LL Bean.

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