Home Shoot Gray Days – Snowboarding and Skiing Photography

Gray Days – Snowboarding and Skiing Photography


Bluebird days are the most salable and best days to shoot skiing.  That being said, the majority of the season involves shooting on gray days.  Learn to make the best of these days to really enjoy snowboard and skiing photography.

Ideally, we’d love to have every day of our lives be a perfect bluebird powder day.  12+ inches of snow overnight with a deep azure blue sky.  IDEALLY….  But….. These days rarely come.   They may happen regularly with no new snow but that’s only great if you plan on shooting groomers and tracked runs. Sometimes, you’ll plan a shoot with the weather forecast for bluebird, and the sky will go gray.  So what do you do?  You go shoot anyways!

Here are some tips that will help you capture great shots on gray days!


  • Overexpose by at least 0.7 stops.  This makes the snow look a true white and will create far better looking images.  Just because it’s gray out doesn’t mean your snow needs to be gray.  Everyone likes looking at a true white snow since our eyes see it that way.
  • Avoid having ANY sky in the shot.  Gray skies match gray snow and the shot becomes less interesting.  It’s best to compose in a different way.  Some photographers will even climb trees to shoot from overhead on gray days.
  • Compose with objects of interest.  By lining up your shot around a foreground element (tree, rock, anything..) you’ll add some depth to an otherwise depthless day.  Showing some of the elements around the skier shows where the sport takes place and gives the viewer perspective.
  • Make sure your athletes are in bright colors that don’t blend with the trees.   Avoid dark colors at all costs.  On a gray day the darks are really dark.  If you want to keep the image interesting, keep your athletes in brighter colors so they stand out.
  • Frame the shot through the trees.  Framing is a cool technique where you line up with objects in the foreground or background to surround the athlete.  Trees work particularly well and by using a few branches you can add more detail and depth to your shot.  Try opening aperture for a blurry foreground, or closing it down to really bring detail into the trees as well.  Just make sure the athlete stands out the most!
  • Fill the shot with more of the athlete.  This is a sure-fire way to ensure the athlete is the focus of the image, and that you see more detail in the snow.
  • Use the APS Extreme Detail method to make the snow sparkle and retain detail in post production.  Read the article here to learn more.


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