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How to Take Dog Photographs in the Snow

If your dog pal likes the snow, it’s a really fun environment to use for photos. Whether she’s bounding over drifts or digging through piles of freshly fallen flakes, taking Phoebe out for a frolic yields some pretty awesome images, but the elements certainly make you work for it.

The snow presents lighting challenges similar to the beach and pool, so go ahead and carry those principles over, but with even more gusto! Because the snow is probably on all sides of you (and not just one or two, like the water), you really need to adjust your exposure compensation dial.

Here, the photographer had to go all the way to +1 with the exposure compensation setting before the snow looked even remotely white. Because the overall scene has so much white, your camera tries to average this out to what it perceives as “normal.”

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27mm, 1/600 sec., f/3.2, 400

Unfortunately, whiteout conditions don’t really fall into the lighting category of normal, so you typically end up with muddy, gray-looking snow, unless you change your exposure compensation.

Before you even start fussing with the camera, here are some other things you should do to prepare for taking pics in cold and snowy locations:

  • Bundle up. That applies to you, to Phoebe, and to your camera. Make sure you wear plenty of layers to protect against the elements so you don’t have to cut the session short because of that pesky hypothermia.

    And don’t forget about Phoebe! If she needs a sweater or booties, make sure she has them on. Finally, keep your camera warm, too. When you’re not using it, tuck it inside your coat so your body heat keeps it nice and toasty.

    When taking your camera from a cold environment to a warm one, condensation can form on the lens and other parts because of the sudden change in temperature. To avoid this potentially damaging situation, bring a zipper lock plastic bag with you.

    After you’re done shooting in the cold winter air (but before you go inside), put your camera in the bag and zip it up. Once you’re inside, leave your camera in the plastic bag so it can gradually warm up to the temperature in the room before it comes in contact with the air there. You can also use your camera bag or anything that fully insulates your camera.

    Keep an extra set or two of batteries in a warm place, like your inside coat or pants pocket. The cold weather tends to suck the power right out of them.

  • Hold your breath. Okay, not literally . . . just sort of be aware of it. Condensation and even ice can form on your viewfinder if you’re breathing warm air onto it, so be careful.

  • Let it snow. If it’s actually snowing while you’re photographing Phoebe, make sure your camera is in a plastic bag and/or have a friend hold an umbrella over you!

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