Camera techniques Shoot a ‘cool’ wintry portrait
James Paterson reveals how to capture a magical wintry portrait – whatever the weather!
If you’re lucky enough to have snow for a portrait shoot, then make the most of it – snow is a natural reflector of light so it gives lovely, soft, flattering light with subtle shadows. Here in the UK, though, it seems that it only snows when we don’t want it to, and never when we do, so for this project we had to make our own white stuff!
A fake snow machine such as the one we used sprays out a stream of soapy flakes that drift gently down to the ground, just like the real thing. You can hire fake snow machines from most entertainment suppliers – the same places that offer disco hire and lighting rigs. They won’t break the bank either: ours was £25 for the day, and came with a bottle of soapy fluid to make the snow flakes (you can hire specialist machines that create real snow, but they cost more, and the air temperature needs to be below freezing for them to work). Our snow fluid lasted for about 30 minutes of continuous use, so fire it in bursts to make it last. For the best effect, have a helper direct the snow so that the flakes fall both in front of and behind your subject while you shoot.
As well as making your own snow, we’ll look at a few of the key techniques and rules for shooting outdoor portraits, whether you want to fake a blizzard, capture subjects against beautiful seasonal colours, or shoot any kind of portrait in natural light. With the right choice of lens, aperture, shutter speed and focus controls, the rest is easy – we’ll show you how to create a beautiful winter portrait whether you have the weather on your side or not.
Fake snow machines won’t break the bank: ours was just £25 for the day, and came with a bottle of soapy fluid to make the snow flakes. You can fire it in bursts to make it last