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03-09-2014, 09:33 PM   #1
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Exposure in snow, bright landscapes, and anything backlit

Hey everyone! I recently just purchased a 645n. I've been using a digital camera my whole life so I've always had the luxury of trial and error when it comes to shooting photos at the right exposure in tricky lighting situations. I'm going to be going to Alaska in a few months and I know that I will likely come across many snowy landscapes and backlit scenes. The meter on my camera works great, but I know that there are certain situations where the lighting will throw everything off. Any advice for shooting at the right exposure in these types of situations?

03-09-2014, 10:18 PM   #2
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One thing about film is it's a bit more tolerant to over/under exposure, so as long as the meter is in matrix mode, you should be OK. Worse case you could always snap the same scene with a digital camera to see what settings deliver the best histogram

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03-09-2014, 10:36 PM   #3
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If center weighted or spot metering fresh snow (or matrix if the field is essentially all snow) with reflected light meter/in camera meter--increase the exposure by 2.5 stops. If metering old snow, increase by 1.5 stops

Fresh snow has a reflectance of about 100%--so if you don't want it to be gray--you need to increase the exposure. Ditto for older/dirty/compacted snow except it has a reflectance of about 50%.

If using an incident meter--then no adjustment--follow the meter.
03-09-2014, 10:36 PM   #4

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Also decide whether you want negative film or positive transparency (slide) film.

Transparency film can have a very nice appearance. But negative film has much more latitude. It can be under or over exposed by as much as 2 or 3 stops. Transparency film should be within 1/2 stop of correct exposure.

QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
If using an incident meter--then no adjustment--follow the meter.
I'm no film expert, so I'd feel much more comfortable using my light meter. I got my Minolta IV on Craig's List for only $50. Its readings exactly match my friend's $300 Sekonic.

eBay might be closer to $100. But if you want to spend $300 for the Minolta, it's still being sold new under the Kenko brand name:

Last edited by DSims; 03-09-2014 at 10:48 PM.
03-09-2014, 10:40 PM   #5
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BTW if you find metering can be tricky--for color work I suggest getting an incident light meter--far more positive results. A used L398 Sekonic is a good standby and likely will be ~$50. (I have used this and the prior version for many decades--w/ great results for color film.)
03-09-2014, 11:49 PM   #6
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Film is actually very intolerant of under exposure. You can't recover highlights like with digital. On the other hand, you can overexpose it crazy amounts and you will be fine. That goes for negative films.

For snow you should meter +2. Or better, yet, get incident meter and then you don't need to deal with any guess work. Correct exposure, first time, every time.
03-10-2014, 01:07 PM   #7
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Rule of thumb for snow is to meter the snow, then add 2 stops.
03-10-2014, 11:31 PM   #8
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Thank you everyone for the responses. I've written it all down in my photography notebook! This was very helpful!


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