Balancing Light & Dark in Winter Pictures

Middle Fork, Flathead River
Glacier National Park, Montana

Whether you photograph under cloudy or sunny conditions, one of the big challenges for winter nature photography is balancing the bright white snow with the dark shadows of trees, rocks and water. It is best to brighten your camera's exposure by +1 for sunny days or up to +2 for overcast days. This ensures the snow appears white and adds more light to the dark areas of the scene. Later you may decide to lighten the shadows even more with photo editing software. 

In this image I made an average exposure with the camera. So the snow retained detail, but the water, rocks and trees were nearly black instead of aqua and green. I lightened the water and shifted its green toward blue using Adobe Lightroom Classic's masking sliders.

Get more tips for your pictures in Winter Nature Photography from Start to Finish, beginning February 1, 2024, at the Lifelong Learning Center in Missoula, Montana. Click for details and registration.