* Well actually it’s not quite fifty, more like three.
It is said that the Inuit have fifty words for snow; Kate Bush certainly does**. If you live in the UK it won’t have escaped your notice that we had a touch of snow this winter. We are due some more this weekend.
Snow changes things, a lot. For a start it makes the world much quieter due to sound being absorbed. It also makes the world brighter. It can confuse camera exposure meters making everything grey, so remember to dial in a bit of positive Exposure Compensation to render it properly white.
A light dusting of snow can bring a bit of extra contrast to a landscape, which is often better shown in black and white. Here is a hill in Shropshire called Ragleth. The woodland without snow is made much more tonally separate by the snow below and above it.
Light coverings of snow can form abstract patterns when they don’t fully cover the material underneath. The roof of this village hall in Oxfordshire has turned into an apparently simple, but actually complex, array of alternating dark and light triangles. The roof vent makes a good pattern break.
Snow can be turned into a plain white background such in as this image of a maple tree branch. I shot it with a telephoto lens looking downwards onto a snow-covered patio. I increased the contrast in Photoshop to give the semi-silhouette against a white background.
The lesson is to take advantage of the snow while it’s around. It’s a great resource but vanishes too soon.
**She made an album called “50 words for snow”.