Winter Golden Hour Snow Session ~ The ins and outs of shooting a golden hour snow session and why you want to do one with your family

free-lensed, Missy Knight Photography, lifestyle photography, Westminster, Colorado, golden hour snow session,
Fuji XT1 + 16 mm, Free-lensed, ISO 250, SS 2000

It’s January in Colorado and just now feels like winter is here. While the rest of the nation has gotten hit hard this winter, we have only had a small handful of snows.  It finally snowed last Sunday and the snow didn’t melt off very quickly like it usually does. So one beautiful afternoon once homework was done, just about a half hour before sunset, we went out to try to build a snowman.  Unfortunately, the snow was still too powdery for a snowman. Fortunately for me, the fine powdery snow combined with the beautiful late afternoon sunshine made for a gorgeous setting to take photos of all the fun my kids were having just being kids in the snow.

 

golden hour snow session, playing in the snow, building a snowman, Missy Knight Photography, Colorado lifestyle family photographer
This is about all we got of a snowman! FUJI XT1 + 56mm, ISO 250, f/1.4, SS 2000

I thought I’d share some tips I’ve been learning about shooting in the snow in a situation like this and why these photos are so important to take. Not handy with a camera? That’s okay, that’s what I’m here for, to either teach you how to use your camera to capture scenes like these or hire me to shoot a session just like this for you!  You won’t regret it. These are the photos you love to look back on years later and remember the feel and excitement of being a child and gathering together as a family.

Missy Knight Photography, Westminster, Colorardo lifestyle photographer, snow golden hour session, backlit
FUJI XT1 + 16mm, ISO 640, f/2.0, SS 2000
Missy Knight Photography, Westminster, CO, lifestyle photography, sunset snow session, free-lensing, backlit
Fuji XT1 + 16mm, Free-lensed, ISO 250, SS 2000

First of all, timing is key. We went out to the park just about a half hour before sunset. The sun was still bright but starting to fall back behind the neighborhood houses. This allowed for beautiful dynamic lighting that wasn’t too harsh but still allowed for gorgeous contrast and depth.

Next, consider positioning.  We had brought our snowman kit with us and I strategically placed it in the sunny patch of snow encouraging my children to play there. You’ll notice the shadows falling both to the left and right of this one patch of light. I backed up so my children were in between myself and my view of the sun. As I’d shoot, I’d make slight adjustments to my positioning as my kids ran around in order to keep their bodies blocking some of the sunlight coming into my lens. This allowed me to shoot them backlit to get that desirable rim light around parts of their bodies as well as some sun flare. Oh man do I love sun flare when done right and this was the perfect situation for it. In the image above, I think the snow flying so close to my lens caught some of that beautiful sunlight. My daughter was enjoying finding all the fresh patches to run through and kicking the snow up into my camera lens.

Missy Knight Photography, lifestyle photography, Westminster, Colorado, golden hour snow session, sun flare, Fuji XT1 + 16mm
Fuji XT1 + 16mm, ISO 250, f/3.6, SS 2000

Then, consider camera settings. In all honestly I realized part way through I hadn’t set my white balance initially (whoops!) so that was a little extra work fixing in post processing. Ideally I would have set that first. I knew my kids were going to be running around the entire time and the snow flying everywhere, so I needed a fast shutter speed and set it at 2000. I also knew I wanted the neighborhood houses in the background to be as little distraction as possible so I used a wide aperture ranging from f/1.8 to f/2.5. I enjoy playing with aperture in all sessions I do to get a variety of looks. My ISO started around 250 at the beginning and as the light changed I’d adjust ending at ISO 640.

Finally, I added in a little creativity by braving some free-lensing. I was nervous to attempt it with all the snow flying around but figured if I could make it work, it would be well worth it in the end. I’m so glad I did as some of my favorite images that day were free-lensed. If you want to learn more about free-lensing, check back for a future post coming up.

golden hour snow session, playing in the snow, building a snowman, Missy Knight Photography, Colorado lifestyle family photographer
FUJI XT1 + 16mm, ISO 640, f/1.6, SS 2000
golden hour snow session, playing in the snow, building a snowman, Missy Knight Photography, Colorado lifestyle family photographer
FUJI XT1 + 56mm, ISO 250, f/1.4, SS 2000

Once our toes were sufficiently cold and our cheeks and noses were rosy pink we decided to head on in to make some dinner. I’d be so happy to hear from any of you who attempt a session like this or would want one captured for you, just shoot me an email or comment below!

 

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