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Photographing dogs in the snow / CT dog photographer

January 9, 2011

Taking photos in the snow is a lot of fun – but can also be a bit tricky. When adding a dog or two to the mix it can get quite challenging. Below are some simple tricks and tips on how to take great photos of your dog in the snow.

1. First off all – try to pick a time of day when the sun is not to bright. Often, early mornings are best for snow photography – however, afternoons can be just as nice. Avoid the midday sun – the snow reflects the sun and chances are you get a “washed out” photo in the end. This photo, for example was taken in the early afternoon where the light is a lot softer.

Puppy in afternoon light in the snow / CT pet photography

2. Add some depth to your photos by including some objects/background in the picture. Taking a dogs picture in a field off white snow can be a bit boring – and you risk that the photo will be all “flat”. Instead, add some – possibly natural – object in the fore- or background to get a better 3D effect and at the same time add some contrast to the photograph:

In this winter photograph, for example, the wooden log helps to set the mostly white puppy apart from the snow – yet the picture has a winter feel to it. The ocean in the background (out of focus) adds depth to the photograph.

Puppy in snow in Milford / pet photographer in CT

3. Adjust your white balance to the cooler winter light. You can either set your camera on auto white balance (AWB) or follow the camera’s instructions on how to manually adjust your white balance. You want your snow to be a nice crisp white. If you don’t have a grey card handy just try out a few different settings – until the snow looks white – not blue and not yellow.

4. Since the snow reflects the light, photos in the snow tent to be overexposed. To avoid this, you might want to take advantage of the “bracketing” function of your camera. This allows you to take the same picture with three different exposures. Go back and look at the results – this way you know if you need to lower your exposure a little bit.

However, you are not trying to capture a pretty snowed in landscape – but your goal is to photograph your dog in the snow. So you want to make sure the reading for the exposure is optimal for your dog – not just the surroundings.

This photograph for example is slightly underexposed – but the puppy itself is lit perfectly. In general it is safe to say that for white dogs in the snow you want to slightly underexpose.

Puppy playing in the snow / Milford CT dog photographer

But for black dogs the opposite is true! Taking a photograph of a black dog in the snow is not an easy task. Often your pup ends up like a big black spot in the white background. To avoid this, you need to overexpose the picture – and depending on how dark your dog is, you might have to overexpose by quite a bit to get your dog in the right light. As a result, the snow might “blow out”. So especially with black dogs you might want to add some contrast in the background (see tip 2). Also, a higher F-stop can help to still capture some details in the snow.

This Rottie mix puppy was having a great time in the snow – the plants peaking thru the snow in the back right corner give the photograph just enough depth and contrast.

Puppy Tobi in the snow / CT pet photography

Even though photographing a black/dark dog in the snow can be a bit challenging – these dogs are the easiest to photograph with snowflakes.

As this photograph shows, the white flakes can best be seen in front of the dark puppy – the black furr is a great contrast to the white snowflakes while the flakes are hard to see in front of the white/light areas of this picture.

Black puppy and Snowflakes / CT dog photographer

This is, where it becomes more difficult to photograph a white dog – and have the snow flakes showing. A trick to do so is to pick a darker colored background. This way, the snow flakes might not easily be seen in front of your dog – but around him – which in the end has the same effect – it shows that it was snowing.

In this photograph for instance, the flakes can best be seen in the upper right corner in front of a darker background as well as on the puppy’s dark nose.

Puppy Flocke in the snow / CT puppy photographer

For creative purpose, you can certainly take your dogs picture without any other elements in the back- or foreground – just in the white snow.

Since we haven’t had all to much snow yet here on the shore, I do not have a current example of a dog in big white powder – but this puppy sits in the snow – and only the paw prints add some texture to it.

Puppy in the snow / CT pet photography

Last but not least – don’t forget to look around – and take a picture or two of the nice winter wonderland while out and about with fido.

I took this photo below while I was out in the silver sands park with my three dogs today – the sun was trying hard to get thru the cloud – creating a rather “mystic” light.

photograph of Silver sands state park Milford CT in the snow

So have fun taking photographs in the snow :) Happy shooting!

Ps: all the above pictures have been taken with all natural light – and a Canon 5D camera :)

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