A couple days ago as the big snow was about to arrive here in the Dayton area, I posted about how to take better snow pictures.
Having lots of white snow in your picture fools you camera’s meter and computer
Snow is white and bright and it will trick your camera into thinking that it needs to cut down the amount of light coming into the camera. You see cameras are calibrated to average the scene at 18% gray (actually it is much more complex than that, but you just want white snow, right?). When you are shooting snow and most of the scene is white, your camera is programed to make the scene 18% gray or there abouts. So your camera without a little help from you will severely underexpose your snow pictures. Your white snow will become gray murky snow because not only is it under exposed severely, but because it is underexposed there will be an increase in digital noise (that looks like little specks of various colors sprinkled about the picture).
What is the solution?
How can I make my camera take pictures so the snow turns out white like I see it?
What needs to happen to make good snow pictures? Most modern digital cameras have a control called “exposure compensation”. If it is in your menu, it will show a marker that can be moved to +1, +2, or +3 to add more light or -1, -2, or -3 to reduce light reaching your sensor or reduce the exposure. With snow, you want to increase the exposure by +1 or +1.5 or even +2. This is counterintuitive because the snow may seem very bright to your eyes (it is not what you expect without much thought). But, you don’t want gray snow right? So do it. Now take a picture with lots of snow in it and take a look at the histogram on the back of your camera. The white portion of the scene will show mostly on the right. If the histogram graph shows mostly in the middle, your snow will be gray. If most of the data is to the left your picture will be very underexposed, very dark or almost black.
When the snow comes enjoy it with your family and share your snow pictures with white snow on facebook
The snow came and I noticed a bunch of dark snow pictures on Facebook and other places. I am sure there are many folks out there, frustrated that their portraits and snow pictures did not turn out very good.
This morning we woke up and saw that there was hoarfrost all over the trees. It was very cold and yet the air had some humidity in it. The humidity frosted onto the branches of the trees as if it had snowed. It’s very pretty. My wife Patty said, “lets go take some pictures of the hoarfrost and the horses. The following portraits are the result of using the exposure compensation adjustment (on my camera there is quick access to the exposure compensation). I tried 2+, but that was a tad too much. When I looked at the image on the back on my camera my over exposure blinkers were showing. I moved it down to 1.5+ and in some cases 1+ and the images turned out great.
Additonal portraits from this morning’s session can be found here: SNOW PORTRAITS
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