In Education, how-to articles, Photo Tips

couple_in_snowstorm2Couple in Sheep Meadow, Central Park

By: James Maher –

It’s that time again when we get to burn off those holiday pounds by trudging through the snow to capture those stunning winter shots.  I’ve got a few extra ones this year, so you’ll see me out there a bit more than usual.

In this article, I want to share with you a few, fairly uncommon tips that I often use, which can make the difference between an average snow photo and an epic one.  Do you do any of these things?

1.  Use a Reverse, ‘White’ Vignette.

The purpose of a vignette is to keep the eyes from falling off the edge of an image and to lead the eyes back to the center of it.  With the amount of white and grey in snow photos, you generally can’t use a traditional dark vignette, since it will be too obvious and look out of place.

So use a white one!  White vignettes can add a magical quality to snow photographs and can further enhance the middle-of-the-storm effect.  Adobe Lightroom is the tool I use to add my vignettes and it works well.

This is such a simple tip, but it can make all the difference, as seen in the photo above.


Brooklyn Bridge at Sunset, During Snowstorm

Brooklyn Bridge at Sunset, During Snowstorm

2.  Colorize and Add Contrast (Lots of it).

I’m usually one to hold back a bit when retouching photos, but for winter captures I often throw all of that out the window.

When you photograph in the middle of a snowstorm, the photos will often come out grey and lack contrast and will have the streaks of snow that will give the capture a painterly texture and quality.  Use this quality to your advantage and enhance this look by increasing the contrast and saturation to help the photo become even closer to the look of a painting.  Over-saturating photographs is generally a bad idea, but for snowstorm scenes it can be a great one.

Compare the untouched negative below to the print at the top of the post.  Enhanced color, added contrast, and a white vignette were pretty much all that was needed to completely transform the scene.

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