Snow Isn’t Blue

Ah…it is the time of year for…BLUE SNOW.

Oh wait. Snow isn’t blue.

However, that’s not what Facebook shows me. Apparently, the world is full of blue snow.

Without going into too much detail about how cameras work, I’l just explain that cameras have a hard time figuring out that we like our snow nice and white. It’s all about the way your camera sees color, and you can read some good information on blue snow right here.

White correcting your white balance in camera is a great way to keep the smurfs out of your fresh powder, I know that there is often not time or know-how to fix the problem before you click.

Instead, I am going to show you a ten second edit in Photoshop Elements. I’m using version 10, but the same steps will work in both 11 and 12.

I pulled this photo from Wikipedia Commons. It’s a perfect example of what I mean by blue now. At first glance, you might not even notice it. That’s because our eyes and brain work together. Our eyes see blue, but our brain sees snow and it knows that snow is white. It ignores your eyes and tells you that you are seeing nice white snow. That’s fine and dandy until you tell your brain to stop talking. Ask your eyes again. Is that really white?

The good news is that this is a simple fix.

In Photoshop Elements, go to Enhance > Adjust Color > Remove Color Cast.

The Remove Color Cast dialogue box will appear. Your curser will turn into an eye dropper. Simply choose a place on your photo that is supposed to be white (I picked the large patch of snow between the back wheels of the two bikes), and then click OK.

This is the result. However, the result is a little grey. We’ll fix that next. At least it’s not blue!



Next, in your layers palette, click the little half white/half black adjustment layer icon. When the dialogue box appears, click on levels.

See that little white triangle on the right? You need to to scoot it to the left until it is at the base of the black “mountain.”

Merge your two layers and DONE!



What a different 10 seconds of editing makes!


A few more examples from my friend Clarissa who is from Alaska. I grabbed these right off her Facebook account (with her permission, of course!)


So how about it? Do you have any snow photos that need some de-smurfing?


If you do want to learn more about while balance and getting it right in camera, check out these posts:

White Balance with Katrina Kennedy

Working with White Balance

Four Common Photography Frustrations and How to Solve Them

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