How I Got The Shot | Snow Flake Focus

posted in How I Got The Shot

How I Got The Shot | Snow Flake Focus

This is How I Got The Shot | In The Snow

Pabst-Photo-Photography-Tips-TutsThis photo was taken in the winter of 2012 (see more from this photo shoot in the snow. There was about five inches of snow on the ground. As any photographer knows, shooting in the snow offers a unique set of conditions. We have all walked outside and been blinded by a blanket of bright white snow. Your eyes are not that much different than a camera. Both decide how bright it is and make adjustments to properly expose what is being seen. Your camera uses its aperture and your eyes use the pupil to expand and dilate based on lighting conditions. However, the camera can be fooled about just how bright the scene is.You and I know there is snow on the ground, but the camera, not so much. We squint to reduce the light and the camera also adjusts to reduce the amount of light. This can result in all of  your photos turning out too dark. So a good place to start, depending on who you ask, would be to overexpose by a full stop, maybe even two. Now that we have that out of the way, we can move on to the logistics of my photo. Interested in other images, check them all out in our series How I Got The Shot.

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Image Concept: It wasn’t snowing when we were taking these pictures, but I wanted that snow in the air. The beautiful couple in the shot are really fun, so we collaborated and decided it would be fun for them to run and kick snow in the air toward the camera.

Image A | Huge Depth Of Field

This is kind of how our eyes see. Image A is really just here to exhibit no depth of field. Our eyes have an enormous depth of field and as a result, almost everything is in focus. Our camera phones actually take pictures a lot like this. If I wanted a photo like this, I might set my 50mm lens to about f/8.0 to maximize sharpness and depth of field. But, that’s not the photo I was after.


Image B | Incorrect Focus

The shot I wanted was for the couple to kick snow up at the camera and have the snow that was close to the camera be out of focus and have the couple be in sharp focus. I quickly realized that if I left all the action to the camera, it was going to focus on the snow in the foreground every time. Image B is obviously not the shot we were after.


Image C | Manual Focus

Image C represents our final image; here’s how I got the shot. I switched the 100mm f/2.0 to manual and drew a line in the snow. I told the couple to plant their feet on that line when they kicked snow toward me. I then had the couple stand on that line and made sure they were perfectly in focus on that mark. Then I got set and had them take a step back and kick the snow. With the lens at f/2.0 in manual focus and the camera already set, the photo took itself. All I had to do was snap the picture. I took the shot in burst mode so that I had a few frames to choose from in case there was a big snow clump right in front of their face. That’s it, that’s how I go the shot.


The final touch I made to this image was to make it black and white. Because the shot was taken in the dead of winter there was really no color in the photo to begin with–aside from the skin color. The couple was wearing black clothes and all the trees had lost their color, so there was no convincing reason to keep the raw image in color.

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