Whether we like snow or not, we can all agree this winter brought us plenty of it. Snow changes things. Its whiteness and lack of contrast smooths our familiar bumpy landscapes, brightens otherwise dark areas and replaces the splendid colors of spring, summer and fall with an even monochrome blanket.
Photographers are always thinking about light, the quality of light and how it plays on our subjects. When used with portraits, hard light casts dramatic, sharp shadows while soft light gently sculpts the curves of a face and highlights fragile features and expressions. Photographers will go to extraordinary measures to create this soft light. We put sheets over windows, soft-boxes over speed-lights and require our “photo helper” Uncle Seymour to awkwardly balance a diffusion disk above his head during mid-day sun in public places.
Snow also modifies light. It increases light’s intensity through reflection and softens it through diffusion. With the help of snow on the ground, a person facing the setting sun will be cast with a beautiful (albeit blinding) fill light that is painfully good for glamour-lighting portraits.
Snow is more than a subject or dressing. It is a powerful lighting tool, that surrounds us much of the winter. Enjoy it and be sure to wear sunglasses.