Skiing/Snow Photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Grimace, Jan 26, 2007.

  1. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #1
    Hey all, I'm going skiing tomorrow and thought I'd throw in my camera.

    Given a really bright environment - any tips from those who have shot in snow? I'll probably try to get a few action shots which should be easier with a ton of light, but I thought I'd ask anyway.
     
  2. CEAbiscuit macrumors 6502a

    CEAbiscuit

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    #2
    Word of advice....If it's goign to be cold and your camera needs batteries, bring extras. The batteries run down very fast in the cold.
     
  3. Grimace thread starter macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #3
    Thanks - hadn't even thought about batteries. Does the high light volume of the snow require any special tricks or is it pretty straight-forward? I'm thinking that shutter speeds of 4000 and higher may be likely, especially if using f/2.8 and f/4 for depth of field.
     
  4. bluewire macrumors member

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    #4
    I am jealous. Where are you sking at? Don't bite it and land on your 5D! :)
     
  5. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #5
    You'll need to open up two stops for fresh snow, anywhere between that and 1/3rd of a stop for sidelit or dirty snow with detail. A polarizing filter may help with deeper sky colors and reflections if you have one, definitely pack it.

    The human eye is drawn to the brightest spot in the image, so compelling pictures have to have a pretty good pattern, use of negative space or interesting subject, or the eye will wander all over the white background while the brain's getting bored because it can't find anything to look at :eek:
     
  6. Grimace thread starter macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #6
    No where special, probably NH or western MA -- mostly fake snow. :rolleyes:

    I don't plan to take shots while skiing - I'm not very good at skiing by itself! If I get anything good I'll post 'em here -- skiing shots are always pretty fun.
     
  7. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #7
    Snow's pretty featureless, so you can work at smaller apertures and not worry as much. Don't forget to double-bag everything so you have a vapor barrier when you go back inside after shooting- otherwise you'll get condensation places where you don't want it!
     
  8. bluewire macrumors member

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    #8
    What? You can't ski looking through your viewfinder? :confused:

    Not familiar with skiing in that area...the snow is pretty tame this season up here in Northern California so far this season...some of the best resorts in the world over here! :)
     
  9. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

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    #9
    Bring a gray card... otherwise shoot in raw, and adjust the WB later. Snow is tricky to shoot in.
     
  10. CEAbiscuit macrumors 6502a

    CEAbiscuit

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    #10
    My old Nikon FM2 is wonderfull in the cold. no batteries other than a watch battery for the meter. Back in the day I used a separate meter as well, so my camera could literally run all day ;-)

    If you every see one at a decent price snag it.
     
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #11
    The advive you are getting to apply one or two stops of compensations is good if your camera's meters is unsophisticated. Newer evaluative meters in the recenr Nikons can handle snow scene just fine without compensation. The are usinf what Niokon calles "RGB" meters and they "know" when some part of the scene is white.

    So your best bet is to just watch the histogram display and if you are blowing out highlights back off a stop. Much of the advive above is old, from the days of film camera shooting negative film and centerweighted meters. Digital is different. It is more like shooting slide film then negs. If you must error error by underexpsing, not over exposing. Shoot RAW if the camera allows

    Don't forget to use some video mode if the camera has it and you have enough memory. Shot video just like you would stills -- think about composition, color, the background, edges of the frame and so on. Video is hard. Each frames needs god composition even as the subjects move.

    Just watch the histogram dispay, or maybe your camera can blink the blown highlights. Adjust the exposure compensation acordingly.
     
  12. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

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    #12
    The man's got a 5D....
     
  13. Grimace thread starter macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #13
    Indeed, I'll be shooting RAW with the 5D. I don't use the histograms as often as I should - maybe tomorrow will be a good time to start! My fear was in overexposing so I'll play around with a few different shutter speeds and apertures.

    My worry is with condensation. I plan on taking a 70-200 and a 300mm+1.4x out in the elements. There won't be any snow falling, temps should be about 32F (0C). Will I have condensation problems? I have no plastic bag that will fit those biggies.
     
  14. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #14
    Whilst I don't have a 5D (I can dream) I thought I'd attach a couple of images from my Christmas ski trip in Austria. They represent basically the different extremes of the conditions. The first is from a brilliant sunny day without a cloud in the sky. The second is from a cloudy day with a lot of snow falling. The light was totally flat on the second day.

    Both images were taken with a 400D/XTi and a 70-200 f4L.

    The first was taken at:
    ISO 200
    f/4
    1/4000
    Straight out of the camera (taken in RAW)

    The second was taken at:
    ISO 800
    f/14 (should probably have been wider aperture)
    1/1600
    This has been lifted a tad in Aperture then processed through Noise Ninja
     

    Attached Files:

  15. Grimace thread starter macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #15
    Thanks so much!! that is really helpful.

    I'm surprised you used ISO800 in the second example and not a wider aperture. My assumption was that I would have my ISO stuck on 100 or 200 most of the time with shutter speeds in the 2000-8000 range.
     
  16. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #16
    Basically an error but I wasn't really able to review what I was doing or sit in the snow too long. I'd already had to dig out a flattish area to kneel down in! But yes, basically a wider aperture would have probably resulted in a better exposed shot.
     
  17. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #17
    The OP is shooting a Canon, and even newer Nikons don't always get it right in matrix mode. Then again, "right" may be a little too real if the slopes aren't pristine too. You'll want to push the snow *back* to white if it's not actually white in real life in most situations.

    I wouldn't back off in whole-stop increments, you're likely to miss the sweet spot. 1/3rd stop increments are best, but half works if you're in a rush.
    Fresh snow that's front-lit is pure white though, so you may actually want it to blow to pure white in the print. If you can't see detail in RL, then that's an accurate representation.

    Actually, in my case it was from shooting slide film with a spot meter (while my Sekonic might have a center weighting feature I've certainly never used it!) In my experience, there was always enough exposure latitude in negative film to bring snow up in the darkroom, but it was super-hard to get the same levels in a positive or even in an Ilfochrome (and a lot more expensive!) I did neglect to say "Spot meter and..." though.

    In a positive, you only get one chance to increase development in the first developer, and if you're off, you've just killed the original. In a six bath kit, pushing requires extra time in the first developer and full time in the color developer, and two whole stops was certainly asking a lot.

    I found with Ilfochromes that snow tended to look a bit better blown out than not for landscapes, but that may have been a filtration issue with my enlarger. Certainly anything underexposed tended to look a pretty muddy brownish-white where something right on, or just over the edge of the exposure latitude was very clean and blueish-white. I spent about $75 worth of Ilfochromes on a single print finding it out the hard way. :mad:

    Actually, if you must err, BRACKET. Underexposing is going to produce bad noise. It's a judgement call, but in some cases it's better to blow the snow (especially for backlit subjects) and tone it down and add some "good" noise in post processing than it is to underexpose both the snow and the subject, especially where the subject's backlit and the snow is reflecting a lot of light.

    Image-wise it's better to fill flash or bounce with a reflector, but there's generally only so much gear someone will haul around and fill flash doesn't work well if you've got snow coming down or being splashed up.

    If you're underexposing the overall scene by a stop, you're likely to be underexposing the subject(s) by more that that, and you're going to get bad noise in the parts of the image that are likely to be the most important.
     
  18. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #18
    IMO, its interesting that some new cameras may finally be able to get around the problems with how meters have traditionally been pretty "stupid", but the overriding principle is for the photographer to understand how his gear works so that way he knows how to adjust and thus, maximize his yield.

    As such, this means that the basic principles of the "18% gray" rule for how meters work applies as the baseline, and since snow isn't gray, the photographer should anticipate altering his settings to shoot at what the camera thinks is 1.5 - 2 stops overexposed.

    A reasonable & pragmatic approach to all photography.

    And yet, still the current advice being taught by the likes of photo pro John Shaw...who has experience in negatives, slides and digital...and who quotes Jack Dykinga to remind us that the camera's merely a tool:

    "Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film. Concentrate on equipment and you'll take technically good photographs. Concentrate on seeing the light's magic colors and your images will stir the soul."
    - Jack Dykinga

    Sure. And in this context, expect that your exposure compensation will be as per the "rule of thumb", ie, best results probably at 1.5 - 2 stops 'overexposed'.


    -hh
     
  19. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #19
    Your photos are an example of why you should overexpose on purpose when shooting in snow. ;)


    If you're going to stick with shooting in matrix mode, then here's my suggestion:

    - If you look through the viewfinder, and 80-100% of what you see is white snow, then overexpose/compensate your exposure by +1 1/3 stop, or +1 2/3 stops. Like Chris said, it's probably better to underexpose than overexpose in case there are details in the snow you want to keep.

    - If you look through the viewfinder and see 30--50% of the frame filled with snow, while the rest is filled with skiiers, I'd just overexpose or use Exposure Compensation and go for +2/3rds of a stop over what the meter thinks is the correct exposure.

    - Don't mess up your camera.
     
  20. persianpunisher macrumors regular

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    #20
    what kind of a camera bag do you take with you skiing?
     
  21. Grimace thread starter macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #21
    I took my full rig along, but not while I was on skis. I use a LowePro CompuTrekkerAW to fit everything. I just picked up a 10.2MP Panasonic P&S that does RAW -- much easier to put in a jacket pocket for taking pictures at the top!

    Here are some okay shots, I couldn't get in a good position for timing [seeing!] the skiiers so I had to guess a lot on focus and pressing the shutter.
     

    Attached Files:

  22. m-dogg macrumors 65816

    m-dogg

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    #22

    Where did you end up going? I'm hearing that conditions are finally starting to get decent here in the northeast but it's been a few weeks since I made it out. I'll be up at Killington for a long weekend this coming weekend and I'm praying for snow...
     
  23. Grimace thread starter macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #23
    I went to Sunapee in NH (about 2 hours north of Boston). 50 trails, 2 inches of powder on top of 18 inches of packed snow. Great time!!
     
  24. Kirbdog macrumors regular

    Kirbdog

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    #24
    snow+photography=challange

    I always find shooting on snow is very challenging. Obviously due to the reflective properties of white snow. A small change in sunlight can drastic effect on your results.
    Here are a few good results in full sunlight.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    All were shot with Nikon D70s, 18-70mm lens with a UV filter to help with the contrast
     
  25. beloved84 macrumors regular

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    #25
    this is under auto for d50 with a nikon 18-70mm, since it was a pull the camera out of the bag and then a quick snap.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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