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Snow Photography - Tips

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dirtyol
 
Posts: 147

Snow Photography - Tips

Post Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:26 am


Headed up to Alaska in a couple of weeks. Any tips out there on photographing in the snow would be much appreciated (seeing as it doesn't snow in Australia much). I will be following the Iditarod sled dog race for a few days as well as seeing the Northern Lights & doing a bit of mushing.

Some handy hints I am after are exposure (any compensation needed), white balance & keeping your camera working in very cold conditions. Thanks.

prinothcat
 
Posts: 662

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:29 pm


I have shot skiing events and outdoor wildlife in snow. The one thing I do is to use at least -2/3 EC to combat all the reflected light off the snow. I haven't had issues with equipment in the cold. Typically I'm shooting in the teens or higher, or I'm not shooting :) I do know you want to have extra batteries, kept inside your coat where they are warm, so that they hold their charges better. Another tip, have some large ziplock bags for any gear that goes out and has to come into a warm humid environment. Place everything in the bags, seal em up and let come to room temp before you take them out. This will cut down on the amount of condensation that forms on the cold surfaces when you go inside. Other ideas that come to mind, a set of square ND grads to darken overly bright parts of the frame, a polarizer to mitigate glare, and spares of anything you can think of that could be dropped, broken, lost, or frozen. I find that I have to practice simple tasks with my shooting gloves on, since things get really awkward in the cold with layers of clothing and the like.
Hope this is useful,
Chris

dang
 
Posts: 3780

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:16 pm



paulsilkphotography
 
Posts: 70

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:14 pm


prinothcat wrote:I have shot skiing events and outdoor wildlife in snow. The one thing I do is to use at least -2/3 EC to combat all the reflected light off the snow. IChris


Chris that seems strange advise as reflective snow usally causes metering systems to underexpose yet you are advocating underexposing by 2/3 of a stop! :?
Keep on snapping and catch the moment if you can.
Paul

http://www.pbase.com/paulsilkphotography

prinothcat
 
Posts: 662

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Tue Feb 03, 2009 4:20 pm


paulsilkphotography wrote:
prinothcat wrote:I have shot skiing events and outdoor wildlife in snow. The one thing I do is to use at least -2/3 EC to combat all the reflected light off the snow. IChris


Chris that seems strange advise as reflective snow usally causes metering systems to underexpose yet you are advocating underexposing by 2/3 of a stop! :?
I'm curious as to your approach. What you're implying seems highly counter intuitive. If your meter is going to under expose due to the excessive amount of reflected light than why do most snow scenes have acres of overexposed snow, with no detail, jut a white wash. My experience has been to meter the subject, and drop the exposure slightly. You get a slight darkening of the subject perhaps, but the overall detail of the image is less blown out. Your thoughts?

dang
 
Posts: 3780

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Tue Feb 03, 2009 5:27 pm


Meters are set to read 18% gray, so resulting photographs will have gray snow with detail loss in lows. Plus "+" Compensation is required to make the snow white, and capture details in shadows. It's a bit tricky though, since digital sensors aren't very forgiving, but bracketing should help. Photos which aren't showing details in the snow were probably improperly taken, or over compensated in PP trying to pull out shadows. Another article which might help: http://pcin.net/update/2006/01/11/photo ... ography_t/

prinothcat
 
Posts: 662

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:40 pm


dang wrote:Meters are set to read 18% gray, so resulting photographs will have gray snow with detail loss in lows. Plus "+" Compensation is required to make the snow white, and capture details in shadows. It's a bit tricky though, since digital sensors aren't very forgiving, but bracketing should help. Photos which aren't showing details in the snow were probably improperly taken, or over compensated in PP trying to pull out shadows. Another article which might help: http://pcin.net/update/2006/01/11/photo ... ography_t/

Right, so if you meter your subject at 18%, the resulting image will show your subject in the gray range of light values, with the snow around it blown way out since it's now far more luminous than the subject. If one was just metering just the snow than yes I see where + EC would be useful. I'm looking at trying to make a compromise between a "perfect" subject and a washed out background. Granted evaluative metering will help with the averaging, but in extreme lighting I still think a bit of - EC is helpful. I'm still working my way around digital, and fall back on what I used in film, where one had more exposure latitude than most digital sensors allow.
Off to do some suggested reading, thanks D,

Chris

(and maybe I'm smoking crack here... it's possible. I don't always remember things the way I should....)

dirtyol
 
Posts: 147

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:23 am


Thanks for the replies. I too was a bit confused about the different views of + or - compensation. That is why I asked the question. To get answers from experienced snow photographers. I will do a bit more reading on the subject. Thanks again.

parpho
 
Posts: 235

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:31 pm


Most articles on white or black subject matter tell you what to do but not why. If you think in terms of film, over exposure for snow will give you a denser (darker) negative which will in turn hold back the light when one is making a print giving a whiter print. The reverse is true for darker subjects. As an exercise take two pieces of material outside one white the other black, similar types of cloth helps out a lot towels being perfect, make 7 exposures of each (meter reading and three stops over and under). Then make an exposure of the two together and compare notes. This involved 15 pieces of paper when I was in school and a large bunch of time. The plus for you is you don't have to get cold to do all this.
Cheers,
Michael

prinothcat
 
Posts: 662

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:44 pm


dirtyol wrote:Thanks for the replies. I too was a bit confused about the different views of + or - compensation. That is why I asked the question. To get answers from experienced snow photographers. I will do a bit more reading on the subject. Thanks again.

Got to agree with you, after this discussion. I can see usefulness of both + and - EC. That I suspect is where the judgement of the photographer becomes important.
Consider me more learned.
Chris

dang
 
Posts: 3780

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:18 pm


dirtyol wrote:Headed up to Alaska in a couple of weeks. Any tips out there on photographing in the snow would be much appreciated (seeing as it doesn't snow in Australia much). I will be following the Iditarod sled dog race for a few days as well as seeing the Northern Lights & doing a bit of mushing.

Some handy hints I am after are exposure (any compensation needed), white balance & keeping your camera working in very cold conditions. Thanks.


Consider dog sled races means the ground, is most likely, completely covered in white. This should take much of the guess work out of the equation. The primary concern for amount of compensation will be if it's bright sun, or shade when shooting.

White balance can be a problem, but should be easier corrected if shooting RAW.

Last time I was in snow, I shot slides... You might search for snow galleries taken this year, and check further with people using digital.

madlights
 
Posts: 912

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:19 am


I think and it's only an opinion, that snow is the hardest thing in the world to shoot ( or close to it ). Overexpose to get whiteness and you lose detail, underexpose for the detail and you get grey snow. Then there's sunny blue sky days, and you get blue snow. If you remove the blue, photographers will see that it doesn't look correct with the sky, but people who aren't photographers will complain that your snow is blue if you don't Photoshop out the blues on the ground and shadows...and it is amazing how reflective snow can be. I don't know if anyone has tried HDR with snow scenes. Guess all a person can do in the end is shoot to where it looks pleasing to yourself. :) or maybe correctly expose your subject with a spot or partial spot metering and the heck with the snow (we have had record snows here for the last two years...and I don't know honestly if I know any more now than when I first tried shooting it, more years ago than I care to remember.)

prinothcat
 
Posts: 662

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:25 pm


madlights wrote:I think and it's only an opinion, that snow is the hardest thing in the world to shoot ( or close to it ).

I believe you just wrote a perfect summery for this thread.

suephoto
 
Posts: 7
Location: Embrun, Ontario (Canada)

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Wed Feb 11, 2009 4:16 am


I just photographed a dog sledding race on the weekend. Setting your white balance is the first thing you should do. I set it for the sun symbol (Canon 40D) F/7.1 400 ASA I used my 85mm lense because I can easily hand hold it while I'm sitting on the ground. Bring a heavy blanket to lie on and a cushion and have fun! Take a look at the photos I took: Larose Forest. suephoto

moxfactor
 
Posts: 317

Re: Snow Photography - Tips

Post Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:25 pm


i also tend to use -2/3 for snow, just to get enough definition/contrast, especially on well stepped-on snow like this... (but also, i like a little slight coloured tint on the snow so i don't need to boost contrast too much on the lighter end)

Image


strong B&W on white snow is even worse than colour on white snow.... :)

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