Winter is here, and it’s time for holiday decorations, incredible food, hanging out with family and friends, shopping deals, and of course snow. There’s something especially magical about seeing the world blanketed in white, and taking photos to capture the moment will definitely be on the to-do list of anyone wanting to make some seasonal memories. But when you whip out your phone camera and aim it at the scenery, doesn’t it sometimes look like there’s way too much paleness?
While snow can look amazing to the naked eye, capturing it on camera is another thing. Common problems with winter photography include overexposure, glare, and messed up contrast. Here we’ve made a short guide to editing snow photos (and taking them) to make your white Christmas not too white.
Keep an Eye on Color
Yes, snow is white, so it may seem a bit strange to recommend you fixate on color, but paying attention to the color of your surroundings and tweaking accordingly adds a lot to an image. First, if you’re still searching for a spot, find what other objects or people are in the frame. For winter landscape photography especially, including one or more objects of a different color adds a focal element that allows the viewer’s eyes to take a breather from the light-colored areas. Staring at too much white can get tiring after a while!
When you have your shot and are post-processing the image, it’s time to adjust the white balance and hues. Sometimes your camera might not accurately capture the whiteness of snow—it can look an awkward shade of blue or have a dull gray tint to it. Tweak your white balance and play with color sliders to get the most accurate shade you want.
Luckily, adjusting colors is easy on a mobile phone due to the abundance of available filters in most photo editing apps. Instasize, for example, has multiple sets for both free and premium users. Remember: cooler toned filters are recommended for winter photos as they enhance the natural look of snow, or you can even try monochrome!
Play with Highlights and Shadows
Winter can make things look as if they’re merging into one long strip of constant white, which doesn’t come out well in photos and isn’t too great on the eyes either. On the other hand, the contrast between light and dark can be a little out of control as well. What makes it all work is balance. The amount of highlights and shadows in an image creates a different feel according to how much each are emphasized, so taking this contrast into account during the editing process can turn an otherwise homogenous-looking scene into a more dramatic one.
Want a moodier image? Dial up those shadows. Using Instasize, you can achieve this by selecting the slider icon in the menu, which then gives you the options to edit exposure, contrast, brightness, shadows, highlights, and more.
Look for Light at the Right Time
This tip is more usually a part of general winter photography tips rather than editing, but it’s important as it gives you something more to work with. Time changes during the winter, with sunrises arriving later and the sun setting earlier, making days short and nights long. Something special happens this season too: the elusive blue hour, usually a very short period of time before sunrise and after sunset when the sky becomes a deep blue, lasts longer during winter.
When you’re not shooting at blue hour and want to nab a sunrise or sunset picture, this is when to break out warmer-toned filters and color corrections, which otherwise wouldn’t be such a good idea. Amplifying sunrise light with these changes will make your shot more unique. Plus, a reprieve from all the white makes for a welcome change of pace, without having to wait too long to catch it!
Adapting to special techniques to use in different conditions per season is just one skill any budding photographer should develop. After all, winter is an entirely different beast from summer or spring! These are just a few essential tips to keep in mind when shooting for this season, and there are always more out there for you to discover on your own. This way, you can stay confident in your skills and still keep great shots in your camera roll no matter the date or time.
When going on winter photography excursions though, don’t forget the most important thing: take care of yourself too! Wear warm clothes to stave off the cold and mind your electronics and gear to prevent environmental damage. Combine all these tips with others you’ve learned for better mobile photography to take even higher quality photos—and you’ll enjoy yourself much more too.