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02-08-2011, 01:32 PM   #1
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All shots taken of snow are too dark

I am new to the DSLR world. I have the K-X kit with both lenses. No matter which lens I use, with the settings set to auto, or snow, every shot comes out dark. It does not matter if it is sunny or cloudy. I am not using any filters. Any suggestions? Thanks!


Last edited by specbil98; 02-08-2011 at 01:33 PM. Reason: Added experience level
02-08-2011, 01:35 PM   #2
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Oy.

When you shoot snow, it will always underexpose. Set your camera +3 ev compensation to start.
02-08-2011, 01:45 PM   #3
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Someone has answered the questions, but I would recommend this book as you may have exposure issues in other settings too, unless you have a basic undestanding of how exposure works:

Amazon.com: Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera (9780817439392): Bryan Peterson: Books
02-08-2011, 01:45 PM   #4
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The camera meter wants to make everything gray. White, black or chartreuse - it doesn't matter. The camera wants to make it a medium tone.

This is where you have to look at your scene and say "That looks a bit light overall" (bridal dress, snow...) or "that looks a bit dark" (black dog close up) and make your exposure compensation (EC) accordingly. If it is bright, you need to overexpose the meter. If it is dark, you need to underexpose the meter.

Clear blue sky (no clouds) facing away from the sun, 10AM-2PM is the correct exposure (close enough). Palm of you hand and open 1 stop works too - most palms are the close enough regardless of skin color.

02-08-2011, 01:46 PM   #5
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I have checked my manual, and I am a complete dummy right now, PLEASE!! how do you change that. Thanks
02-08-2011, 01:47 PM   #6
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Cameras are stupid. Even modern digital ones. Behind all electronics and software, it still have to assume something about what you meter. It doesn't know that it is snow. So it does what cameras have done at autoexposure since the very first cameras with autoexposure. It assume that the average brightness of the subject you are shooting is grey. In many cases this work. Not so in a white winter landscape. The snow will look grey. What should have been grey will look black, and black will not look at all. There are several strategies around this:
-shoot manual
-shoot on automatic exposure but use exposure compensation
-spot meeter something grey and expose according to that
-fix it afterwards in the computer (at the cost of part of the dynamic range)
02-08-2011, 01:59 PM   #7
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I don't have the K-x, so I don't know its behavior when set at "snow" scene. In fact, I've never used any of those scene settings. My answer below is very general.

The light meter of the camera assumes the scene has "average" reflectivity. Snow has reflectivity higher than average. In other words, snow reflects more light back to the camera's light sensor, and the camera tries to compensate by increasing shutter speed (or narrowing the aperture). The result is an underexposed photo.

If you take the photo of a black dog lying on a pile of charcoal, the reverse happens. The black dog and the charcoal reflect less light than average. The camera will try to compensate by decreasing shutter speed (or widening the aperture). The result is an overexposed photo.

For scenes that are not average, you need to tell the camera by using exposure compensation setting. Use positive values for bright scenes (snow, beach) and negative values for dark scenes (night, dark objects).

For more details, read this article.
02-08-2011, 02:13 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by specbil98 Quote
I have checked my manual, and I am a complete dummy right now, PLEASE!! how do you change that. Thanks
The Kx should have a button marked "+/-". Press that and then use the scroll wheel.

02-08-2011, 02:15 PM   #9
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on the top of your camera is a little button with +/- marked on it, press that button and hold it while you turn the dial on the back of your camera several clicks to the right (thereby changing the Exposure Compensation to overexpose the image slightly), take a photo, if the result is still dark, try doing the same thing again and moving it a few more clicks to the right.

if this still doesnt make sense to you look up Exposure Compensation in your manual. You need to overexpose your snowy images. And +1 on buying Understanding Exposure

EDIT Ksevin beat me to it!
02-08-2011, 02:26 PM   #10
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Thanks a bunch. That helped. I'm an old fogie with a new toy!
02-08-2011, 02:37 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by specbil98 Quote
Thanks a bunch. That helped. I'm an old fogie with a new toy!
No probs, sometimes when you ask questions here you get a more detailed response than you had hoped for
02-08-2011, 03:03 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Deimos Quote
No probs, sometimes when you ask questions here you get a more detailed response than you had hoped for
Hay, that's MY specialty! So I'll go against type now, and just say: There are many ways to handle difficult exposures. Lots of theory, lots of calculation. You'd probably be surprised by how many serious photographers have math degrees. Oh, my head...

Then there is the easy way: CHIMPING! Which means to take a shot, look at it on the LCD screen, and adjust settings accordingly. Picture too dark? Go +EV. Too light? Go -EV. Bad composition? Re-frame and shoot again. Stuff you can't do with a film camera.

Another easy way, which CAN be done with film or digital: METER YOURSELF! I'm not sure about the Kx, but my K20D has an AE-L (auto-exposure lock) button. Aim at something of medium brightness, push the AE-L button, then aim at your subject and shoot. Look at the subject and figure what else nearby is about the same brightness -- if it's a person, then meter off your hand or sleeve. I used this trick a lot Back In The Day when center-weighted metering was high-tech.

Meanwhile, read up on how exposure works. And memorize the multiples of the square root of two: 1, 1.4, 2, 2,8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11... [/me head explodes]
02-08-2011, 03:31 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Meanwhile, read up on how exposure works. And memorize the multiples of the square root of two: 1, 1.4, 2, 2,8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11... [/me head explodes]

Looks like the powers of the square root of two to me!

2^(0/2), 2^(1/2), 2^(2/2), 2^(3/2) = 2 * 2^(1/2), etc.

Thanks for pointing this out, I never would have realized that's where this sequence came from.
02-08-2011, 04:04 PM   #14
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Thanks again, RioRico! I just spent a couple minutes in my head and on paper convincing myself of the mathematics that make the square root of two important for halving the area of a circle
02-08-2011, 09:27 PM   #15
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Yes, of course, I meant powers, not multiples.

[/me smashes lying calculator with sledge hammer]
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