Snow Photography and Special Effects (DSLR Tutorial)

 

Equipment

  • LED Lenser X21 Flashlight – This thing is a beast. Extremely reliable and bright. I use it all the time for all sorts of reasons. Definitely worth the investment. The X21 is a continuous lighting solution, not a short burst of light like flashes are. Continuous lighting lengthens motion, flashes freeze motion. Updated versions of the flashlight are available here.
  • Nikon D300s DSLR  –  Pay no attention to this, as any DSLR can produce the results you see in the video.
  • Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 Lens – Generally the best lens to have for a Nikon crop-frame DSLR and I’ve created many many images with it.
  • Manfrotto 055 Tripod – Mounting your camera to a tripod is absolutely essential in order to eliminate camera-shake.
  • Optional: You can mount the X21 to a tripod by using an X21 tripod mount. When I was outside, I didn’t want to lug around two big tripods for both my flashlight and camera, so I conveniently mounted the X21 to a Gorillapod.

LED Lenser X21 Flashlight mounted on the Gorillapod tripod

Results

Long Exposure showing motion of snow falling at night time

On-camera flash freezing motion of snow falling at night

Long exposure showing motion of snow falling lit by flashlight AND on-camera flash freezing motion of snow falling at night

Steel wool long exposure light painting with on-camera flash freezing snow flakes falling

Long Exposure of Steel Wool Sparks at Night in the Snow

If you are wondering how the photographs of those flying sparks were created, take a look at my Steel Wool Photography Tutorial and I’ll show you how to do it!

Camera Settings

As far as what camera settings were used, I mostly used Manual Mode set to a shutter speed of 5″ with an aperture of f2.8 at ISO800 but these settings can change to get different results.

Depending on what you are setting the focus point on and how much light is available, you may need a focusing aid if the area inside the focus point is not bright enough. To do this, I like to set the camera to AUTO focus, shine the flashlight on the auto-focus point seen when looking through the viewfinder, take a picture to make sure the image is sharp and not out-of-focus, then turn off auto-focus to freely take pictures after that point.

Another Idea

Another idea I got only after it was done snowing would be to take a ~1 second exposure of the on-camera flash in burst mode, where it flashes rapidly multiple times. I’d love to try it at different speeds and show the results. I’m definitely thinking the faster speeds would look best. If you have a camera that has a burst flash mode feature – give it a shot!

Have fun!

Check This Out Next

Are you tired of taking boring photos of the same mundane subject matter? Wouldn’t you rather take your photography to the next level and photograph things that catch people’s attention? If you would like to get the complete scoop and learn how to take more creative and unique shots with your DSLR, pick up my Trick Photography and Special Effects e-book and video course today!

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48 Responses to Snow Photography and Special Effects (DSLR Tutorial)

  1. Arjun Kartha says:

    Awesome work Evan! Greetings from warm India (no snow here I’m afraid!). Didn’t the snow screw with you D300? I’m always worried about getting the camera wet — I try and put a plastic bag over my D700 when I’m shooting in a light drizzle.

  2. pritam more says:

    thanks for ur helpful guideness it is superbly shooted i want to know at 0 dgree camera shutter has’nt got
    lock good work give me some tips on diamond jewellery shoot with flash system

  3. Johan says:

    Nice tutorial, but here in Denmark winter is over 🙁

    Johan

  4. Noah says:

    Totally love your house. 😀

  5. laura says:

    gracias :] aunque en Costa Rica no nieva…

  6. Ronda says:

    Evan,
    I am beyond impressed with the ‘Extreme’ creative niche you have carved out for yourself! I love engaging the lessons you share, as you are an inspirational teacher over flowing with high-energy, excitement and passion; you certainly appear in alignment with your purpose, adding to the quality of the trainings you provide! Your book (Trick Photography and Special Effects) as well as the never-ending video series (Yay me and … Thank you!) is filled with awesome information and resources! You are, as they say, ‘wise beyond your years;’ well, except perhaps not so much in the area of avian creatures (“a bird-thing”—I love it!). I am thankful for all the informative and fun trainings that you so joyfully share with the world! May you and yours experience abundance beyond your wildest dreams just as you so bless others with your gifts –as he/she/ or they cross your path! And SO it IS!
    With Heart ~ Ronda Still (from Georgia)

  7. Steve Murray says:

    Attach an umbrella to your tripod to keep your camera dry

  8. A51015 says:

    WOW..man you have a unique talent your ideas, your enthusiasm,your simple way for explanation and everything I think in photographers society they should consider u as a school of photography not just a photographers
    Thanks a lot

  9. Jackie says:

    Thank you so much for this awsome knowledge you share with us. I am an elderly lady that loves
    photography, I just need the time to take it all in and try to reproduce some “great things” too. I live in Australia and where I am we do not have any snow but, I might go back to UK for a visit when Winter is on and, may be, just may be, I could use your lesson on Effects in the snow.
    Thank you for your courses and many tips.

  10. kleijn says:

    I love your photo’s
    I hope take one picture that is 50% of yours i am hapy.
    Great! great! and thanks for sharing.
    Wim (the Netherlands)

  11. RAM says:

    You are freaking good! Please let me know how to become a great photographer like you! tnx

  12. airoze says:

    amazingly awesome!thanks for sharing this new knowledge.keep up the good work!

  13. Donna says:

    G’day Evan, Thanks a million for all your tutorials, they are fabulous, and I am learning heaps. I’m from Australia and we are off to the snow fields this winter, can’t wait to try these things out! Thanks again for all the effort you go to. The tutes are very easy to understand and my pics have improved heaps thanks to you.

  14. Arjun says:

    thnx…… Evan …nice job…i have learned a lot from your …special effects book….and these tutorials…thnk u very much . keep up this good job… \m/

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  16. Robb Thurmond says:

    I do a lot of lightpainting and have been looking at some of the really powerful flashlights in hopes that I might get away from using my flash gun all the time. The number of options is boggeling. Why did you choose the LED Lenser X21?

  17. DAYUM! We had snow fall last week and I would LOVED to have got that first shot. I had my first go at light painting (bought your ebook which is awesome BTW) on Sat night and blogged about it (pimped the ebook too LOL)

    Snow forecast for tomorrow so I might have a chance to play. BTW that torch is SERIOUSLY expensive!

  18. It is really tough and reliable. What other ones have you seen that have 1000 lumens?

  19. mayeng says:

    can i ask what model of nikon you used to capture these awesome pictures?

  20. Cristian says:

    Nice video, I finally find your website.

    I saw a video of you taking photos of your cat flying!

    🙂

    Cristian. My website if you want to see

  21. Joe says:

    We don’t get snow. What are some rainy day photography tips?

  22. mohankumar says:

    verry intresting subject for learning photography.

  23. Alexey says:

    Trick Photography and Special Effects

    I believe the Book is really cool !!! But I think $97 is a bit too much. If the price would be 20 bucks – I will be happy to pay … and I guess many other people are thinking the same way. Probably selling more for smaller price will give you bigger income at the end.

    Thank you very much for all your great work you are doing !!! RESPECT !!!

    Alexey

  24. Jenny says:

    Ok, seriously you are awesome! I am in love with the long exposure snow images. Gorgeous! Thank you for the tips!

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  26. Your enthusiasm rejuvenates me into getting out of whatever rut or commonality one can lapse into. Over all it’s light we work with and the camera is our tool to alter it. In I’ll be retiring in (4 months) from my parking cars and will to get back to adding or hindering light sources. But darn, why does that LED flash light have cost $300! I have used a Coleman Lantern with reflector to light tunnels & caves in “total” blackness, 30 minute exposures w/ Kodachrome, problem was after exposure and shutting down the lantern, then finding your camera in “total” darkness.

  27. Dave says:

    Evan==Just had to write and let you know how much enjoyment I’ve gotten from your book. It seemed that every page was overflowing with new info and techniques!
    Thanks a million!

  28. gerardo says:

    hi , where are you I miss your videos . i love your work.

  29. Shoua says:

    Hey there Evan,

    I’ve finally been able to sit down and watch some of your videos/tutorials. Although some/most of the techniques you have are definitely above my head, as I am still in the very beginnings of learning how to use my camera. (Seriously, all my cameras up until now have been point and shoot.) I still have no idea what aperture and all that fun stuff is.

    My reason for leaving a comment today is I am wondering if you have a site where your are selling some of your shots. I LOVE these snow flakes and steal wool shots and would like nothing more to have a collage of them up on one of my walls.

    Many thanks!

    ~Sua

  30. I’m from Canada where we get a lot of snow, and I have to say that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these images. It really doesn’t surprise me that, along with people wanting to buy your book, they would also love to buy some of your actual images. They’re beautiful.

    Jerry

  31. Gary says:

    Dude just want to say thanks for vids….they gave me lots of ideas….i am new to photography and i am loving the hell out of it!!!! I have tried light painting…pretty cool!!!! thanks for being an insperation.

  32. Bob Horn says:

    Evan nicely done! Enthusiasm for your subject goes a long way in counter-balancing the stereotype of slick professionally done video productions. I like your way of being yourself. It is like you are talking to me directly without the TV news readers who are reading from a teleprompter with their plastic smile and demeanor. You really connect with your audience by being yourself – talking about what you know – what you have learned by showing us how it is done in real time. Brilliant! Also – I just bought your “Trick Photography and Special Effect”. Love the interactive format of you eBook with video links. Wishing you the best of success and a bright future.

  33. I picked up this multi-color LED flashlight from Think Geek for experimenting with light painting in the snow. It isn’t anywhere near 1000 lumens, but the ability to have so many colors in one small device made it worth trying.

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/8db4/

  34. Levi says:

    Hey, sorry to bother. Im currently using a Canon T4i (650d) and I’ve been testing star trails and it seemed like it stopped taking a picture after 99 minuites and I’m just wondering if it just failed to show or is there a shutter limit of some sort. Like the number of minuites was blnking every second and it stopped on 99 minuites. Im not sure if it just cant show the numbers past three digits or what ?? sorry if this doesnt really make sense, I’m 15 and very new to photography but I’m rapidly learning my way around.

    Thanks
    Levi Brown

    -or of anyone else can help me please email me at Levibrown1@hotmail.co.nz

  35. Denice Lang says:

    I find this very, very interesting and would like to get your e-book…….but, I don’t have a DSLR, I do have a digital camera, can a person do some of these on digital (Canon or Nikon) camera? They both have manual settings, not sure about time exposure tho. Denice

  36. Linda metz says:

    Trying to register after purcasing your Trick Photography and Special Effects and it won’t let me.

  37. mina samir says:

    I’ve purchased your product in the first I did last January and so far I did not get my product I want to send me my product or my money I ask to reply as soon as possible so as not to use other ways to return my money.
    Thank you very much

  38. Ronnie says:

    I have the similar comment with Mina. I made the online payment just about an hour ago but still no news of receiving the eBook Trick Photography and Special Effects. Can someone help please?

  39. Ronnie says:

    Mina & Linda,
    I wrote an email about a similar problem I faced in accesing the eBook to Evan at this address: trickphotographybook@gmail.com. I got a reply with a link where I was able to download the eBook. If you are still having problems please write to Evan using the above email.

  40. roxanna says:

    trick photography ebook. i also paid for it a while back and have not gotten a link where i can down load it. i see other people are having the same problem. what do you suggest we do?

  41. Roxanna, please email trickphotographybook@gmail.com to get links to download the product.

  42. Abdal says:

    Would any big flash light work for this project

  43. ruslan says:

    привет. мне понравилось идея с фонарем. попробую ее развить до совершенства у себя! спасибо .

  44. John says:

    Nice tutorial. I have a high end panasonic point and shoot camera. It has amazing quality and build. Can I use it in place of Digital Camera?

  45. Laura says:

    For those on a tight budget I got a 1000 lumen flashlight at Wal-Mart for $50. Even has a red and black light option on it! Thank you Evan for sharing your knowledge! You’ve helped me WOW so many people! 😀

  46. Bali Driver says:

    very good snow and nice shot

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  48. Pingback: Snow Photography and Special Effects (DSLR Tutorial) | Stay Focus Photography

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