I am in Montana...(Snow Question)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Pistol Pete, Apr 18, 2006.

  1. Pistol Pete macrumors 6502a

    Pistol Pete

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    So Cal
    #1
    I have a Nikon D50 and was wondering what is the best settings to shoot snow?

    I know it is hard from what I have tried but I just know that there are obvious settings out there.

    Thanks for all of your help.
     
  2. pdpfilms macrumors 68020

    pdpfilms

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Location:
    Vermontana
    #2
    Depends.

    If you're shooting the snow itself (only snow, just for texture), you can probably let the camera meter and tell you what the correct exposure is. If you're shooting anything else (I.e. a bunch of rocks and trees in a snowy environment), you're going to want to use Manual mode, and set the exposure to two stops higher than balanced. What happens is the camera tries to account for the large amount of almost all white from being overexposed, and brings the exposure down. Shots end up looking gray, and any subject other than snow is going to be way too dark. By bringing the exposure up a bit, you regain the natural whiteness of the snow as well as the natural look of the shot.

    This is a proven practice by ski photographers world wide.
     
  3. Pistol Pete thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Pistol Pete

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    So Cal
  4. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Location:
    Behind the lens
    #4
    Bracketing shots is best.

    if you MUST get something to look right, shoot manual and go up 1 or 2 stops from the light meters recommendation, and down 1 or 2 stops.

    That way you should have 3-5 shots to work with, one of which should be correct.
     
  5. Pistol Pete thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Pistol Pete

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    So Cal
    #5
    im sorry im an amature, could you explain a little more...Sorry!

    But thank you very much.
     
  6. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2001
    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #6
    True enough, but going +/- a range is biased here by the information that we know that a lot of the image is white snow. As such, the lightmeter is going to be biased in only one direction by that. If I want the snow to be anything approximating "white", I'd bracket the shot as:

    +0.5
    +1.0
    +1.5
    +2.0

    (these are all "overexposed" vs. what the meter's telling you, since its inerpreting the white snow as 18% grey).

    FWIW, if I couldn't bracket (whatever reason), based on past film experience, I'd shoot it at +1.5, since I know that I can normally push/pull a half stop between film negative and print.

    A good reference here is John Shaw's books...any of them that talk about assigning tonality. I was looking for my copy of Shaw's Nature Photography Field Guide, but only found his Landscape Photography guide (ISBN 0-8174-3710-X), which has info on it on page 26.


    -hh
     
  7. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2001
    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #7

    The technique of "bracketing" is, in simplest terms, taking more than one photograph of the scene, with each photo using slightly different exposure settings.

    The reason for doing this is to try to get one of them right! :)

    The default for bracketing is to take one photo at what you think is the correct exposure setting, then one photo above this (overexposed) and one photo below this (underexposed).

    The general measuring stick that's used are "stops". For example, "+/- 1" means plus/minus one stop.

    For example, if the camera says that the proper exposure for something is 1/60sec at f/8 and we're going to bracket with aperature, then we would shoot:

    1/60sec @ f/8, then 1/60sec @ f/5.6 (+1) then 1/60sec @ f/11 (-1).

    FYI, we can also choose to bracket with shutter speed. So we could have also done (these produce the same exposures):

    1/60sec @ f/8, then 1/30sec @ f/8 (+1), then 1/125sec @ f/8 (-1).

    Okay, hopefully you have the basic idea now: bracketing is "insurance" to make sure that you got a good exposure for the shot that you want. What this also means is that if a photo is really important to you, you may choose to make more than just one shot above and one shot below. What you'll find on many SLR's is an automatic bracketing feature. On consumer cameras, this feature generally offers half stop (0.5) adjustments, whereas on professional grade SLR's, it might be in on third stop (0.33) adjustments.

    Here's some illustrations I found on the web:

    [​IMG]
    This shows the net effect of changing the exposure. To my eye, this is a good example of variations in tonality; it looks like a change of around a half stop, plus and minus.


    [​IMG]
    This shows what an SLR camera's displays might look like while you're trying to do this. Don't worry...each camera is different (this one looks a lot more complicated than mine!). One thing to notice are the bar graph indicators on the right side, and how the little arrow on the left side that indicates "proper" exposure isn't always matched up with the white rectangles on the right side. This is showing you what the setting variation is for that specific shot. FYI, on many systems, when you set this up (AEB: Automatic Exposure Bracketing), it has a three image sequence setting: first shot normal, #2 high, #3 low.

    With a little practice with AEB (for where you need it), you get used to the idea of composing, then "click-click-click", then moving to the next composition, 3 shots, next composition, 3 shots, etc. Obviously, in the days of film, this meant that a roll of 36 gave you only 12 sets of 3!



    -hh
     

Share This Page