How to Take Action Photos

Taking Action Photos in the Snow

Using the previous techniques, you can freeze a skier or blur the background to show speed. However, capturing these shots in the snow combines extreme weather, difficult lighting and movement. With that said, if you have the proper gear, practice your exposure skills and follow snow photography tips, your photos can shine.

Besides dressing warmly and considering a hand-warmer (since you'll need to remove your gloves), consider your equipment. For water protection, look for a sealed camera or a rain and snow cover. Keep your batteries and camera warm while it's not in use -- inside your jacket next to your body, for instance. For stability, use a wrist strap. A neck strap is too dangerous to you and your camera if you fall in the snow; a tripod will get in the way of your mobility and subject's safety.


Exposure in snow can be tricky. The snow's brightness makes your camera think it's lighter outside, resulting in underexposure. Your snow will look fantastic, but your subject won't. Here are some options for figuring out settings on a snow day:

  • Point the camera at the sky -- away from the sun. Set your exposure settings (combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO).
  • Before your subject heads out, point the camera at his or her face and set your exposure. Keep those settings in place while shooting.
  • If your skin is similar to your subject's, set the exposure using your hand in the same lighting and angle of your shot.

Conversely, if you are taking snow photos on an overcast day, compensate even more for the camera's tendency to underexpose. Try overexposing by two f/stops.

If you're having trouble determining which setting combinations work and have a digital camera, use your histogram (exposure guide) in the preview mode. With lots of snow around, you want the curve to be higher near the left edge. If that isn't the case, tweak your settings.

In addition to your gear and settings, consider the following photography tips for shooting in the snow:

  • Set up as close to the action as possible without getting in the way.
  • If you can get close, you can also show the expression on your subject's face or see interesting reflections in his or her sunglasses.
  • Get low and shoot up to highlight your subject.
  • If you want to emphasize sprays of snow, shoot toward the sun. Be careful not to shadow your subject.

Now that you know how to shoot action photos in the snow, advance to the next section to learn about adventure photography from a boat.