Correcting White Balance in Snow Photography

Winter in Nebraska can be fickle. We can have a season of blizzards, or just a couple of big snow storms that dump 8-12 inches a few times during the season. This year we have had no big snow storms, just a slight dusting at Christmas time, enough to say we had a white Christmas and nothing more.

The news is full of winter storm watches, bitter cold and above average snow falls from Chicago to New England, but nothing in Nebraska. So I’ve gone back into my archive photography files to get a taste of a snowy winter. The year is 2012 and in February we had a really nice, slow snowfall that coated everything. I went out with a camera I just got for Christmas, my oldest Marine son gave me his Canon Rebel before he deployed, and took photo after photo of the amazing scenery.

I have since started shooting in RAW and editing in Lightroom, so I thought I would rework a photo to see how I can improve on it now.

Winter snow on the plow

1. Before SOOC

Snow on the plow

2. After: crop, white balance, edited in Lightroom

Lightroom photo edit: snow on the plow

Click on image to see Lightroom details in editing.

First I cropped the original to a 5×7 and zoomed in a little closer. Then set the white balance in Lightroom by using the eyedropper on the snow, this eliminated the greenish cast. I also increased the highlights, clarity and contrast to give more texture. Below is horizontal crop version where I applied noise reduction. Since this image was originally a JPG shot at 400 ISO I thought it could use some smoothing out.

Which do you like the best, 1,2 or 3?

Winter farm storage

3. Horizontal crop with Lightroom noise reduction

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2 thoughts on “Correcting White Balance in Snow Photography

  1. White balance is the name of the game and you did a nice job. I do prefer the composition of your picture before you cropped it–the tree is an element that you lose in the horizontal crop without gaining anything as strong to replace it–the tree draws your eye to the subject of the photo, which is the wheels in the snow. The horizontal crop is still visually pleasing, but not as dramatic.

    I have been making an effort to stand back further from my subject and let the background and foreground tell more of the story, and I have been more satisfied with my pictures of grain elevators. The temptation is to cut out everything that isn’t my subject, and I wind up going back to the original picture as I first framed it.

    Oh well, that said, both pictures are nice and I would be pleased with either one.

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