Shadows and light: 13 Video tips for shooting snow
With the upcoming winter in the horizon, most of our ski resorts are opened and ready to offer the best of the snow landscape. In Zeferino Profesional Lighting, this week, we’d like to focus on shooting snow and the chalenges it arises.
Capturing video in the bright light from snow is one of the most challenging conditions you can shoot in. Not only is shooting in the snow quite cold for you, yourcamera isn’t happy either!
Creatively and technically when shooting in the snow, you are challenged from the moment you arrive. When you’re shooting in the snow you are shooting on not just a white background, but also an all-white reflective surface. Here are a few quick tips to capturing video and protecting your gear in that cold white wonderland.
1.Don’t use auto exposure
Auto exposure is just not an option when shooting video in the snow. Your iris is going to try to stop down the bright white reflective surface, and all dark detail in the shadows are going to get lost. Try to control your exposure. If your camera doesn’t have the ability to go into manual control, limit your wide shots without people and choose medium and close up shots of people. Don’t try to get both at the same time.
2. Give your camera some sunglasses
Just like you need to wear shades in the bright white light, so, does your camera. Use your camera’s internal neutral density filter, or add an external glass filter to the front of your lens. Be aware when using screw-on filters, you might get fog between the lens and the filter.
3. Make the snow work for you
Take advantage of the white reflective surface. You can use the snow as a big giant reflector or bounce card to lessen shadows in facial features for close-ups. If your subjects are standing near your camera, move them or the camera around until the sun reflects the snow-cast into their faces.
4. Plan the time of day
Shooting at high-noon in the snow is like shooting high-noon on the beach, it will wash out darker surfaces. If you can plan it, shoot in the early morning or late afternoon. The nice thing about sunrise/sunset shots in the winter is you don’t have to get up too early for a sunrise!
5.Wear bright clothing
If you can control their wardrobe, have your subjects wear bright colored clothing, no black, brown or gray. Try to have them in all the same hue, too. It’s just one less thing to have to balance.
6. Shoot down on people
Change yourshooting angle a bit can diminish some of the bright light from behind or above them. Shooting your subjects from slightly above their eye level will block some of the harsh background from throwing more light into your camera.
7. Color temperature and white balance
An indoor auto white balance setting can give your scene a bluish tint, and the outdoor setting can create a warmer gold look, but auto exposure levels don’t play well with snow. If your camera has pre-sets, experiment a bit with shots on the days that aren’t important to your project.
8. Sound matters
If sound is important to the video you’re capturing, cover your mic with a wind-muff of some kind. Any type of breeze is going to sound like the jets of an airplane taking off if the mic is unprotected. You can easily cover the on-camera mic with a little bandage gauze, if you don’t have a wind-muff handy.
9. Sun control
For most shots, keeping the sun at right angles to the subject and camera will prevent you from having an over-lit or back-lit subject. However, for landscapes, shooting with the sun in front of you can give you some cool atmospheric shots. Use a lens hood to keep the sun from getting directly into your lens. Play with the shadows – shoot directly into the sun as it sits low on the horizon – not just with it to your back.
10. Acclimate your gear to the cold
Our first instinct is to take the camera out of the car last, after we’ve prepped our bags and ourselves, but it’s actually good practice to take your camera out first, and set it on the ground (on a protective surface!) Keep your camera outside for about 15 minutes to acclimate to the weather before you even turn it on, this will help prevent condensation fogging your lens and viewfinder.
Carry a good portable bag for your gear, maybe even double bag it. Batteries will die faster when it’s cold outside, so pack spares and keep them in your coat pocket. If your battery conks out when it should still have lots of juice, don’t despair. Rub it vigorously in your hands to warm it up.
12. Stabilize your tripod
You can use that snow to stabilize your tripod in a windy event by filling a simple grocery-store plastic bag with snow and tying it to the center spreader.
So take your time and experiment a lot. Winter is a good time to learn, instead of hanging the gear up until spring! Shooting in the winter is peaceful and beautiful. Most average people avoid venturing out, so you have whole areas to yourself. Even the ugliest street full of debris and dirt becomes a winter wonderland when shrouded in snow.