The Magic in Winter Series: Post Processing: Part 4 of 4

Dec 31, 2019

It’s always an excellent idea for a photographer to capture technically strong images in-camera. However, I think that there’s also an artist in each of us, and post-processing not only allows us to tweak components within our pictures but also provides opportunities for creative freedoms. This week, which is the final installment in The Magic in Winter Series, I’m sharing with you tips for tackling some common winter image problems so that your final winter photographs will ooze magic.

1. Tweak underexposed subjects

If you have exposed for your snow and not blown out your highlights, sometimes your subject in your photo will be a touch underexposed, especially in strong backlit situations.  If I’ve exposed well in the camera, brightening up my image globally in post-processing can sometimes result in blown-out highlights within that already bright snow.  To tame this dilemma, I selectively brighten up just my subject.  My favourite tools to do this are the radial filter in Lightroom, which I can invert and then add a touch of exposure, only to my subject. In Photoshop, I’ll use a levels layer and then mask that brightening adjustment onto my subject.  


ISO 250, 92mm, f4, 1/2000SS

2. Adjust snow luminosity

Be conscious of grey snow.  Snow is bright. Rember to maintain snow luminosity. It's okay to keep snow high in brightness.  In LR, I use the WB dropper tool to hover over my snow. Most often, I like the R-value in that tool to fall around 90 or even sometimes just a touch higher. I find this maintains good snow brightness levels.    

ISO 100, 140mm, f3.2, 1/1600SS

3. Address white balance issues

No one wants yellow snow! As I mentioned, I tend to shoot a little cooler white balance in-camera during the winter months.  Sometimes this can leave my subject looking quite cool straight out of the camera, and I’ll need to warm up my subject’s skin a touch.  Global warming can sometimes turn my snow a tinge of yellow or magenta, which I don’t want.  My favourite trick to ensure white snow in a highlight or overcast setting is to use the dropper tool in the WB Panel in LR and click on my snow to set the white balance. I can then tweak white balance selectively throughout the rest of my frame using an inverted radial filter. In Photoshop, I tweak WB using a Curves layers with a mask applied.


ISO 200, 175mm, f3.2, 1/1000SS

4. Don’t be afraid to get creative 

I love enhancing the atmosphere in my images, and I’m certainly not opposed to using creative overlays like snow and fog during the winter months when appropriate.  Sometimes snow is fine, and it doesn’t show up in the straight out of camera image.  Sometimes I want to add larger snowflakes into an image.  Other times, I want to enhance the fog. Whenever I want to add a little extra unexpected magic into an image, I turn to overlays, which can help me enhance the atmosphere and execute my creative vision.  Photoshop is my favourite place to apply overlays.

ISO 250, 105mm, f3.5, 1/1600SS

Post-processing can be an enjoyable way in which you can add your creative vision and touches into an image you’ve captured. Don’t be afraid to play around some and experiment. As you do this, you will learn new techniques and grow in your post-processing skills. Most importantly enjoy the creative process in bringing an image to life and infusing a touch of magic!