Why Snow appears Blue in Photographs…

Do you want to know How To Photograph Snow and have it come out white?
Why does snow appear blue in photos … and how can you correct it?

We have had a lot of Snow in Ireland over the last week and I have seen a lot of pictures on Facebook / Flickr which have a blue or non-natural snow colour.

This post explains why thBasically, snow reflects a lot of light including the blue colour from the sky and any other lights which may be nearby (i.e. Neon / Yellow Street lights), and this can confuse the sensor in your camera. The DSLR camera will always try to average a photo to 18% gray. Therefore when taking photos of snow, the camera can often under expose the photo resulting in a gray or blue tinge to the photo.

There are certain things you can do on camera. You can shoot the shot with +1 ev or +2 ev exposure compensation as well as shooting RAW (just to allow some further adjustments in PhotoShop later)- use your histogram to check it is correct.

White Balance Correction

You've taken this photo and Snow appears Blue
You’ve taken this photo and Snow appears Blue … not what you want to see!
By using White Balance Correction you can avhieve this in 10 seconds
By using White Balance Correction you can achieve this in 10 seconds

This is probably the easier way to correct your shot and I normally do it using PhotoShop in order to get the shot I am looking for.

As long as you shot in RAW, you can change the white balance in a program such as PhotoShop (or you can use a basic correction tool in Picassa which does an okay job also). You can select from a list of preset values such as ‘sunshine’, ‘cloudy, ‘tungsten’,’florescent’) or you can use a color-picker tool which is an eye-dropper icon in the white balance settings to pick the snow as your white point. I normally use the eye-dropper tool as it gives you a bit more control.

By selecting the correct White Balance - Snow appears white as it should and you have a great shot
By selecting the correct White Balance – Snow appears white as it should and you have a great shot

This white balance tool is also excellent for giving you a really good night shot. I will cover this soon in another post about long night exposures.

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