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01-28-2013, 06:23 PM   #1
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Clouds...grey clouds + snow- suggestions

I live in the Great White North and this winter has been not one of my favourites for outdoor photography. Very little sun...mostly grey clouds and loads of snow on the ground.

I enjoy taking photos of birds of prey such as Owls and Bald Eagles...perched in trees....particularly when the sun is out and lighting them up like a Hollywood flood light.

No such luck this winter with a reliable sun and it's attendant light.

I usually shoot at F 8, on aperture control and the lens I use for wildlife is my Pentax 55-300mm...racked out to 300mm...camera, usually the K-5.

Another overcast day tomorrow...but I plan to head out anyways...getting cabin fever.

Any suggestions on how to best deal with this light, the subjects and my particular equipment.

Thank you.

01-28-2013, 06:54 PM   #2
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Since you have clouds/overcast, the lighting will not be changing much.
I don't do a lot of bird photos but I would try this,
When you get to your location, set your camera to shoot RAW, set it to M mode.
Then, choose your ISO(I might start with 400) and f/stop, adjust shutter speed to +1 on your meter and take a test shot. Check the histogram, if there is blank space on the right side, lower your shutter speed, or open your aperture, or raise your ISO. Do this until your histogram is just barely clipping on the right side.
Then shoot away, keeping an eye on the histogram.
01-28-2013, 07:05 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Swift1 Quote
Since you have clouds/overcast, the lighting will not be changing much.
I don't do a lot of bird photos but I would try this,
When you get to your location, set your camera to shoot RAW, set it to M mode.
Then, choose your ISO(I might start with 400) and f/stop, adjust shutter speed to +1 on your meter and take a test shot. Check the histogram, if there is blank space on the right side, lower your shutter speed, or open your aperture, or raise your ISO. Do this until your histogram is just barely clipping on the right side.
Then shoot away, keeping an eye on the histogram.
I'm pretty new to the World of Pentax having just picked up a K-30 a couple of weeks ago. But, one of the things that astonish me about this camera is the ability to produce REALLY good images in the higher ISO ranges. I'm assuming the K-5 can do the same. I shoot with the Sigma 170-500mm and I get some great results at ISOs ranging from 800 to 6400 and sometimes higher. Have you tried using these ranges?
01-28-2013, 07:22 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Swift1 Quote
Since you have clouds/overcast, the lighting will not be changing much.
I don't do a lot of bird photos but I would try this,
When you get to your location, set your camera to shoot RAW, set it to M mode.
Then, choose your ISO(I might start with 400) and f/stop, adjust shutter speed to +1 on your meter and take a test shot. Check the histogram, if there is blank space on the right side, lower your shutter speed, or open your aperture, or raise your ISO. Do this until your histogram is just barely clipping on the right side.
Then shoot away, keeping an eye on the histogram.
I have done it exactly that way too. Even with the Q with limited dynamic range it results in good exposures like this:


01-28-2013, 08:09 PM - 2 Likes   #5
dms
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while the testing is fine--it is better if you start with some grounding in theory--so later you can understand better. Take a reading off the white snow and open lens 2 1/2 stops (or equivalent). That takes the meter reading of the snow that tries to make it 18% reflectance (gray)--and increases it to 100% (i.e., white). 18% to 36% is 1 stop, 36% to 72% is the 2nd stop, and 72% to 100% is about 1/2 stop. Total 2.5 stops. If the snow isn't fresh it will be closer to 1.5 stops. Not saying it will be perfect but you start to thinking more logically about it. Then experiment from this starting point. It means you will learn to meter dark, medium, light--whatever--and make mental correction.
01-29-2013, 10:52 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
while the testing is fine--it is better if you start with some grounding in theory--so later you can understand better. Take a reading off the white snow and open lens 2 1/2 stops (or equivalent). That takes the meter reading of the snow that tries to make it 18% reflectance (gray)--and increases it to 100% (i.e., white). 18% to 36% is 1 stop, 36% to 72% is the 2nd stop, and 72% to 100% is about 1/2 stop. Total 2.5 stops. If the snow isn't fresh it will be closer to 1.5 stops. Not saying it will be perfect but you start to thinking more logically about it. Then experiment from this starting point. It means you will learn to meter dark, medium, light--whatever--and make mental correction.
Great explanation on getting nice white snow. Thanks for sharing!
01-29-2013, 03:05 PM   #7
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Yep. I start with +1.5ev in snow country and go from there.
01-29-2013, 09:46 PM   #8
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Consider:

Combine 3 shots to get a better range of light.

Converting your pics. to B&W. This works well with the snow.

Also, look at a ND filter to block out glare from the snow.

02-01-2013, 06:50 AM   #9
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I too live in snow country - we average over 20 feet (~7m) each winter. The sun doesn't shine a lot for weeks on end. If you have a colorful subject, by all means shoot color. But in many cases, I think better images are created in B&W where it is texture that matters. The mind has a great way of interpreting the shades of gray back into shades of white.
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