We’ve had a bit of snow around my area and I’m looking out the window at an almost completely white scene. I’m heading out in a bit and my goal is to capture a high key photograph. This week’s challenge is to:

Photograph White on White

Snowy barn
White on White. Snowy barn

Just because I’m seeing white snow, don’t think that your only option this week is to head out in the cold. White sometimes sits neutrally in the background letting other colors take the center stage. This week, let the whites shine. Look for scenes in shades of white.

Oia Greece Santorini
Santorini, Greece is know for white and blue architecture built in a crater of a volcano. This scene highlights the shades of white in the buildings of Oia.

Or set the stage with some graphic details.

White coffee cup against a white background.
White coffee cup against a white background.

But anything white with a white background will work. 

White sails against a cloudy sky. Scilly, England
White sails against a cloudy sky. Scilly, England

Photographing white on white is challenging. When I travel to photograph wild horses in the Ozarks, mornings are often foggy in the valleys. It’s hard to see white horses in white fog and my camera really doesn’t know what to focus on.

White horses on a foggy morning.
White horses on a foggy morning.

Quick tip: When photographing foggy or snowy scenes, over-expose the scene. The automatic settings on your digital camera may be fooled by the bright white and think it needs to snap a darker photo. I know it seems weird, but our cameras get a bit overwhelmed by all that white and overcompensates. Use your exposure compensation dial if you have one to go up a stop.

Portrait photographers talk about shooting “high key” photos – purposefully bright images. Naomi’s looking particularly bright in her white dress against a white background. 

high key portrait
Naomi in a high key studio photoshoot

White is a color that’s easy to overlook. Bad weather days are perfect for looking for white – white clouds, white snow, white fog – or set the scene with a white backdrop in the studio. 

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