Sharpening ice and snow. Be cautious. Sharpening primarily affects the edges. So while sharpening might apply to the edges of a snow flake, it would make the naturally smooth curves of ice acquire an edge it didn't have before, that looks strange.
With a Canon 5D Mark III an ISO of 400 works fine, but it would not work well for smaller cameras. They would add noise. I regularly use that sensor speed in order to get more depth that will be in focus, and to stop action. Best to run tests and find out when your camera starts to show noise; start at an ISO of 100, and keep doubling,(ISO 200, 400, 800, 1600 ) with an f stop of f8. Then download all of them onto your computer and enlarge each one by 50% to see when the noise becomes objectionable. I general enlarge images by 50% which is larger than print size by quite a bit. And then when working with a filter, I'll notice immediately any adverse effects.
This was intended to be a little introduction to photographing ice and snow--which are tricky. Write me if you have questions and would like a different photographic issue addressed. Also, keep in mind that your camera has to be pretty sophisticated (not cell phone shots) and your development software has to be at least Photoshop Elements to apply what I described. My software is Adobe Photoshop CS6, Lightroom 4, Imageonic Noiseware Professional. The Canon 5D Mark III has a full size sensor that grabs far more information from everything it sees, than the human eye can see. Kind of frightening, isn't it? But this level of camera can deal with the most complicated lighting. Check out Mid West Photo's website on North High Street in Columbus, or visit them with your camera and ask what you might be able to do with the next level, compared to what you have already.
A little technical piece.
The photograph to the left
was taken on a cloudy day and under-exposing the ice enough so that the brightest part of the ice could be made brighter without blowing out every detail.
The brightest places are where the snow landed on the tops of the cascades so the exposure adjustments were made to accommodate the snow.
For those who can make adjustments in your software in "contrast," up or down, I've found that the temptation is to increase the contrast, but that would blow out the snow too. So I sometimes reduce the contrast if the brightest parts are blown--no detail, just white. This is not easy or simple.
Snow and ice in the early morning or just before dark, turn blue from the lack of light. A slight blue tint then is authentic, and makes the image even "colder."
The background, behind the ice, was darkened to black to add contrast between black and the ice, and make the ice come toward the viewer, and the black the recede from the viewer. The background behind the ice distracted from the ice.
This is a carefully chosen selection of a larger file--cropped. If you've seen
group photographs of humans, then the really good groupings have the heads going up and down,
rather than straight across.
i applied the same logic here, choosing a selection where the ice goes up and down and makes for an intriguing composition.