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In the northern hemisphere, winter is a time of early sunsets and gloomy skies. In colder climes, the one positive is the snow. With fresh powder covering the mountains, this is the perfect time to hit the slopes.
The combination of fast action and a blinding-white backdrop make winter sports challenging to photograph. To ensure your shots are more Shaun White than Eddie the Eagle, we put together a little guide to capturing snow sports with your iPhone.
The biggest problem with photography on snow is that your subject will always be darker than the environment. When the sun comes out, the contrast can get completely out of control. In response, your iPhone may underexpose the shot.
The solution is quite simple: take control of exposure. This is easy to do on your iPhone. With the camera app open, tap and hold your finger over your ski or board buddy. This will set the exposure for the action, not the snow-covered landscape. You will also see a little sun icon appear next to your finger. This is the control for exposure compensation; move your finger up or down the scale for fine control over the brightness of your image.
You would need incredible reactions to get the perfect ski shot at the first attempt. The speed makes timing almost impossible, not to mention operating your phone with cold fingers.
Again, the solution is straightforward. To take a burst of photos as your friends zoom past, hold the on-screen shutter button. You will then have multiple frames to choose from. It is a brilliant but little-known feature of the iOS Camera app, which makes sure you never miss the moment.
As with all photography, light is important on the mountain. At midday, the sun beats down on the snow at full power. Even using manual exposure, these conditions are not conducive to getting the best results.
Instead, try to get out early, or stay out for the setting sun. Not only will the contrast be easier to manage, but you will also get some nice golden color. Just be careful to descend before darkness falls!
Skiing and snowboarding are both very active sports. Put on some decent insulation, and the cold mountain air will rarely be a problem. For photographers, however, the dress code is entirely different. Instead of hurtling down the mountain, you may be spending considerable periods waiting for the perfect shot.
With this in mind, put on one or two extra layers, and use hand-warmers where necessary. Another option is to purchase touchscreen gloves — an inexpensive accessory which allows you to take iPhone photos without exposing your fingers to the icy atmosphere.
Finally, there is the all-important editing. Being made from frozen water, snow and ice has the tendency to reflect blue light. To remove this tint from your photos, open up Enlight and navigate to Image > Adjust > Tools tab. Select Color, and slide the Temperature control to the right until the image looks natural.
Despite your manual exposure wizardry, you may also find that you need to adjust the brightness of your image. To do this in Enlight, follow the same path as above, but select Basic once you are inside the Tools tab and use the Exposure control. You can also choose Details from the Tools tab to access the highlights slider and tone down the bright white areas.
Don’t worry too much if some detail is lost from the snow. The priority should be your subject.
Photographing winter sports is always tricky — but with these tips inside your head, the ride should get smoother. If you have recently been on the piste, show us your best snow sports shots in the comments!