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08-23-2011, 10:09 PM   #1
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Settings for snow

I'm never happy with shots taken in snow. My subjects (people, buildings, trees, rocks etc) always come out under exposed. I understand that camera light meters will have trouble with the brightness of snow, but wondered if anyone can suggest some settings that will help.
Particularly ... which white balance setting to use in snow (auto or daylight or?) and ... which metering mode (spot, average, etc)

Thank you.

08-23-2011, 10:13 PM   #2
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for white balance, i'd set the balance to daylight and adjust if needed in PP

as for exposure, just go against what the meter says and overexpose against the meter. if you're in an auto mode, then just add some exposure compensation
08-23-2011, 10:18 PM   #3
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Try +1 EV and see how that looks.
08-23-2011, 10:39 PM   #4
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Shooting in the snow is difficult no doubt, on the up side you will not have trouble with low shutter speeds! The KEY aspect of shooting at the snow is flash, I use it to "over power" the sunlight and bring out the shadows in the subject and allows faster shutter so as not to over expose the back ground. If your trying to take portrait photos of people I find its best to have them with their backs to the sun otherwise they will be squinty..not a great look.. as for action shots It helps to have the sun behind you . I'll post a couple of shots with different examples if i can find them.

08-23-2011, 11:12 PM   #5
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Ok so here are a couple i've found.
First (no flash or not enough) exposing for the scene.
Note:Sun behind the subject



Second is the same situation with only a touch of fill flash and exposing for the subject but needed faster shutter to compensate for bright sky.
Note:Sun behind the subject



Third is what I would call almost correct, Enough fill flash to illuminate subject, fast enough shutter to keep background exposed properly
Note:sun behind subject



Fourth is the correct amount of fill flash and adequate shutter to keep background from blowing out
Note: sun behind me (the camera)



And one last ond just because this guy was showing off for the camera in the previous photo



I would also point out I use spot metering and centre weighted metering. And I have used Auto White balance and just corrected in PP for any discrepancies.

Hope that give you a bit of insight into my approach

As for Scenes of buildings rock etc, something I have little experience with unfortunately, I might suggest flicking over to exposure bracketing if shooting without flash and merge exposures. Most cameras would struggle to cover the huge dynamic range of a lot of shots your faced with in the snow. Especially on a sunny day!
08-24-2011, 12:05 AM   #6
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Chaos Realm - thanks for the reply and the suggestions. I'll give them a try. I hope the skier in the last photo didn't crash due to the flash in his eye! Cheers, John
08-24-2011, 02:05 AM   #7
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On white balance:
The overcast (or is it called cloudy?) white balance removes that blue tint on the snow. But it can also give the scene a more golden summer look that conflicts a little with the winter mood of the snow.

On metering mode:
I s'pose you could use the spot meter and put the snow at +1.7 - +2 exposure. That'll ensure correctly exposed snow (white with details), if that's what you're aiming for in a landscape shot.

Be careful with the spot meter, it's not a general purpose setting. It's really a specialty tool that needs you to think about exposure in every shot and you should know the associated theory called the zone system. I'm saying this because people who ask about metering modes don't often know enough about exposure to use the spot meter correctly.

Sincerely,
--Anders.
08-24-2011, 05:52 AM   #8
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Here's what the numbers say...

The metering system is designed to render pure white as 18% exposure which is 2.47 stops below saturation. Therefore, take white balance & meter off the snow then add 2 - 2 1/3 stop. (asp1880 says 1.7-2 stops which nay be better in practice).

EDIT make that 12.5% these days. that means three stops compensation will overexpose pure white snow. Try 2 - 2 1/2 stops


Last edited by newarts; 09-07-2011 at 04:12 PM.
08-24-2011, 08:39 AM   #9
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There is no magic "setting"t o use with snow. You simply need to understand how exposure and metering work (tons of books and web articles on the subject) and then you will be able to figure out how and when to use exposure compensation and substitute metering to get the results you eant in any given situation.
08-24-2011, 08:58 AM   #10
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Use the histogram on the back of the camera plus exposure compensation - you need to 'overexpose' snow scenes to get them correctly exposed. The histogram should be right up to the RH side without being clipped, or with just a tiny bit of clipping. The amount of compensation seems to vary quite a bit depending on the conditions - bright sun, overcast, etc.

I always use AWB but mostly I shot RAW.
08-24-2011, 05:08 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by johngs Quote
Chaos Realm - thanks for the reply and the suggestions. I'll give them a try. I hope the skier in the last photo didn't crash due to the flash in his eye! Cheers, John
haha if you ask the skier then most definitely.
08-31-2011, 09:40 AM   #12
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For snow, which we get a lot of up here, I have found the best result to be M exposure at two stops overexposed from snow alone. If you use the exposure compensation [+/-] button, it will vary the exposure depending on how small or large the subject is, and your exposure will be inconsistent. One common way for me is:
1. Set the camera to M
2. Set f/8 for a bit of depth of field
3. Point the camera at snow in the lighting you expect to use
3. Press the green button (or your camera's equivalent)
4. Multiply the shutter speed by 4. e.g Meters at 1/1000 use 1/250.

That will get you within half a stop or so, easy to correct in post processing. I always use RAW which gives a good stop each side compared to JPEG. I don't care about the white balance because it is the easiest thing to fix later, but tend to set the camera to whatever the lighting is so that the LCD isn't way off on colour.
08-31-2011, 09:41 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the replies to this question. Its the first day of Spring here in New Zealand now and most of the snow has gone, so I'll have to wait til next Winter to try out your suggestions!

cheers,

John (Christchurch, New Zealand)
08-31-2011, 10:04 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by johngs Quote
Thanks for all the replies to this question. Its the first day of Spring here in New Zealand now and most of the snow has gone, so I'll have to wait til next Winter to try out your suggestions!

cheers,

John (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Obviously those blizzard conditions I was hearing about were down queenstown direction. I was very temped to up and leave australia when I got word of the massive falls you guys were having over there. I was over there winter (2010) as I'm a rather keen snowboarder (don't hold that against me )
09-07-2011, 02:19 PM   #15
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I've always had pretty good results following the Sunny 16 Rule in bright sunlight or snowy conditions.

The elders amongst us will recall this leftover from the film era but it works with digital as well.

See the Wikipedia link below for details.

Sunny 16 rule - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Give it a try and see what you think.

Tom G
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