What's it all about?

This blog is about photography and photoediting. Its purpose is to provide hints and tips and links to interesting and useful resources for digital photographers, regardless of their level of expertise or experience. It is aimed at people who use digital SLR cameras and who process their images using the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

The author of this blog is Glenn Springer and you can read more about him at his web portal at faczen.com. Information on workshops, and links to everything is at photography.to. Glenn's original blog, which is an ongoing journal of his photographic meanderings goes back to 2006 and contains many additional hints and tips, as well as representative images that he has made. Gallery quality prints are available through his Smugmug gallery site. It is an interesting place to visit to see a variety of quality images, as well as an ongoing general journal of photos going back several years.

Photography workshops are scheduled every few weeks starting in the Spring. For an overview of what's happening, please visit the photography.to website.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Winter Photography

Shooting pictures in winter is just like shooting pictures in summer except:

(1) it’s cold. That affects you and your equipment. The last thing you want to do is take your camera and lenses into a warm environment then back out again. Condensation makes it impossible to shoot some times, and can’t be good for your stuff*.

(2) there’s this white stuff on the ground. It really messes with your exposures. You need to think it through.

Spot metered on Lynx and exposure compensation set to +2/3EV. 1/60 at f/4.5, ISO=200

If you’re shooting with a spot meter, nothing changes. You’re metering on the subject, not the snow (well unless you’re shooting a snow scene). If you’re using averaging or matrix metering, your camera is going to try to make the snow 18% grey, not white. So your picture is going to be underexposed. So if you are trying to meter a scene and not an individual subject, it’s probably a good idea to overexpose a little. As a general rule, probably around one full stop, so set your exposure compensation to +1. That way, the subject will have a better chance at being properly exposed and you’ll have nice white snow.

Normal exposure. Nice "grey" snow. The camera tries for 18% grey. 1/2500 at f/2.8, ISO=200

This is the same shot at +1EV. The snow is blown out but the exposure on the huts is better.
1/1250 at f/2.8, ISO=200
Nice white FEATURELESS snow. Blown out. Overexposed. What to do, what to do. The dynamic range between the snow and the possibly dark subject is too high. Oh, wait: did I just use the phrase “High Dynamic Range”? HDR for short? I did, didn’t I. Not a bad idea, if you’re shooting a static subject, but what do you do when the subject is moving? Say like the lynx... you have to get the amount of light on the subject closer to the amount of light on the snow. Hmmm... what to do... aha! Flash Fill! Or use a reflector to throw more light on the subject.

HDR created from a total of 5 exposures – one at nominal, the other 4 at -2EV, -1EV, +1EV and +2EV. Look at the detail in the snowpile to the left and in the trees behind.

Generally, I'll bracket exposures like crazy in the winter. Sometimes you'll guess very wrong. And sometimes you'll be right, but use your head!

Spot metered somewhere on the lake surface, NO exposure compensation. White vignette added for effect. 1/5000 sec at f/8, ISO=200.

* I'm still waiting to find out. It looks like the continuous autofocus servo or the software controlling it failed on my D300. Last time it functioned was at the Minden Ice Races and I'm thinking the cold might have gotten to the camera. Nikon has it as I write this, so we'll see...

That said: to prevent condensation, go to a canoeing or kayaking store and get yourself a DRY BAG big enough for your camera and lens. Before taking your camera into the warm from the outside cold, seal it in the bag with outside air. Let it warm up to room temperature. Cold air contains MUCH less moisture than warm air so when it warms up it stays dry.