Snow: Real or Instant?

posted on 25th of october, 2007

How do you make it snow when it doesn’t? Hands down, the real stuff is best but sometimes you have to fake it There are all manner of tricks. There is phony snow that is mixed with water and some swear by instant mashed potato flakes. A discussion about the merits of various types of imitation snow is here. For a discussion that will help you cover an entire mountain with artificial flakes click here

© Dinny (Help)

Here’s some ideas to ponder while you get ready for winter weather to really kick in. And some thoughts about why it may be the best time for winter themed studio shots too as it is much easier to prop and find wardrobe in the winter months for those cozy shots.

A couple of years ago in early summer I hired a production company to produce a Christmas shoot. A disaster. Only a pitiful artificial tree was available. The shoot was in a house not a studio. Leafy trees kept creeping into the shots until they blocked all the windows. And as the producer said, all those problems were easily solved but no one was in the mood for Christmas and it showed.
For snowy exteriors, get people into your shots. An exhausted guy shoveling snow is one idea but the most popular images will show your models absolutely, positively THRILLED to be out in the freezing weather, laughing, tossing snow balls, building snowmen, and sledding. To ensure that falling snow is visible use darker clothing or backgrounds against which the falling snow will show.

Hang a Christmas wreath on a door for some snowy shots. Take it out for others. Have warmly dressed models walking in the snow carrying wrapped packages. Remove the packages for the next sequence. Red is a good color for the wardrobe as it bounces against the white snow and says “Christmas” too. Always double up as much as you can to expand your shots for multiple uses. Christmas usually means snow but winter doesn’t always mean Christmas.
The all time best selling winter/Christmas scenic is of a snow-covered cabin in the woods in early evening, glowing yellow interior lights shining on the snow. The cabin looks cozy but isolated. The other big seller in this genre is a decorated tree also out in the forest. I’ve never understood that one. Why would someone go to all the trouble to decorate a tree in the middle of nowhere?

© Cta88 (Help)

© Darac (Help)

If you really want to get serious, go here
Tip: on Dreamstime search enter ‘snow Christmas’ and ‘only model released’ and you will discover a valuable image category that is virtually empty.

Mistakes to avoid:
Dirty or only scattered snow in pictures of sleding or with models
Lens too short to capture the facial expressions of people having fun in the snow
Backs to the camera
Lots of cars in the images of a cozy cabin. Should look like the people skied or hiked in.
Too many distracting elements in the image. My favorite image of all these is the boy in the red parka. His expression is authentic and happy. But I wish that darn traffic sign wasn’t coming out of his shoulder!

Comments (5)

Posted by Bertrandb on October 26, 2007
The best snow I ever saw was on a short holiday in Vienna. Snow is a tricky subject, though. It can often appear either washed out or grey depending on your aperture setting, and in sunny conditions, it can create extreme contrasts that are hard to capture at low dynamic range. For this shot I added a slight blue tint to avoid the greyness. [imgl]1366365[/imgl]
Posted by Godfer on October 26, 2007
Hi the image of the little boy in the red parka is mine. It was the first time my boys had ever seen show and is really a snap shot taken before I ever got into stock photography. You're right in your comments and I think that I will have a go at cloning out some of the background and re-uploading. I love his expression too. Thanks for using it. Mandy
Posted by Petarneychev on October 25, 2007
Here's the corrected link: Snow: Real or Instant?
Posted by Ltphotography on October 25, 2007
When I click on the link above it tells me the page is no longer available and redirects back to the DT front page?
Posted by Cathysbelleimage on October 25, 2007
Wow ! The snow flake images on Kenneth's site are amazing !!

Comments (5)

This article has been read 5045 times. 2 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Calin Tatu, Darko Draskovic, Diane Miller, Dizajune, Godfer, Iofoto, Milkovasa.

About me

I have written a about microstock photography released in 2010. I was the Director of Content at Dreamstime for two years ending in Feb, 2009. You can order my book from amazon via my website at www.ellenboughn.com/blog.

Bainbridge Island, US

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