How To Shoot Ice & Snow – With Flash



A thick Hoar Frost looks amazing.

It only happens now and then, so you really need to make the most of it when it happens.

One of the downfalls of this frost is that the sky can be very dull on such days, so your usual landscapes can lack impact.

So how to add something a little different?

Get your strobes out

You can create something more interesting with flash – even “on camera” flash can create something slightly different.

The shots in this article are all taken with the flash “off camera”, triggered with radio triggers. More about those later


Exposure settings

Try underexposing the background for starters – that’ll create a dark canvas on which to place your frosty plants.

Most of these used these settings

  1. ISO 100 – 400
  2. F8-F14
  3. 1/200th second

That gave a reasonable dark background – use your metering skills to work it out, set the white snow to -1 or 0.

_MG_4311Flash Kit

For this I used a very basic 1-flash set-up, including

  • Flash stand
  • Shoot-through umbrella
  • Flash head
  • Manual flash trigger and receiver
  • Manual flash (yongnuo)
  • CTO flash gel – orange
  • CTB flash gel – blue

It’s basically the “my first strobist” kit – you could of course introduce more flashes and coloured gels to add more light.

How to set it up

This is where you apply your strobist knowledge to judge flash power, distance, how to use the umbrella etc.


Here’s a shot showing how I had the kit set up. The stand was pretty high and the umbrella very close to the twigs.


The creative photographer may be interested in mixing the subject and background colour temperatures. In this shot I had a CTO (orange) gel on – this allows you to make the background look very cold.


You can use a blue gel on the flash and create a relatively warm background.

This is best done by shooting in RAW mode, the colour correcting later – using your RAW editor’s the “eye dropper” tool to select the white ice.


Here are a few examples from an hour in a field near Bradford. All editing done in Lightroom 4.1 – very minimal.



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