Thursday, 21 January 2016

How To Photograph Snow

How To Photograph Snow
When snow falls every blogger & instragrammer is obliged to venture out and take snowy pictures. We have to it is a bloggersphere byelaw so we have no choice but to share these images with you year in year out. SO this year when the snow fell I took my pictures, as the law dictates, but I thought I would encapsulate them in a post that did more than just show you how pretty snow can be. I am going to tell you how to photograph snow, the right way.
How To Photograph Snow
First of all if you are still using your expensive camera on auto stop that, it is lame and a real waste. You may as well use a point and shoot! You are not impressing anyone with that big old camera if you are hiding in the green auto box all the time. Besides it is more fun to shoot in manual, like driving a car with gears, only boring people drive an automatic, (sorry if you drive an automatic but it is lame and my opinion on this is final). Okay now we have bullied you into switching your camera to manual let's have a little chat about exposure. 

I have a hand held spot meter so that I can take various readings from an area to judge the exposure I need, most of you won't have those and often I want to take speedy candid shots and getting a toddler to stand still while I mess about with a spot meter is not going to happen. Your camera has a built in light meter and most of the time it does a pretty good job but it can only do what it is programmed to do, it is not artificial intelligence, and it is programmed to find the middle ground. What this means when you are trying to shoot snow is the camera will compensate for the bright white glare and make the image grey. The light meter will do this in auto and manual, but we can fix it in manual.  
 How To Photograph Snow
Okay so this is an image of the display on the back of my Canon60D, (it may differ for other makes/models). The part of the image I have crudely drawn around in pink, (excuse my Photoshop drawing skills), shows the exposure. You will also see this at the bottom when you look through the view finder and start to, but don't fully press the shutter button. In normal circumstances you would adjust your settings so that the marker was in the centre of that line, 0. That would give you a perfect exposure, but not necessarily the exposure you want, and this is true of snow. To avoid the grey you need to over expose your image, you are not really but the light meter in the camera will think you are so just roll with it. Try making your setting at +1 or even +2. 
How To Photograph Snow
We found our very own Stick Man in the garden
There are a number of ways you can do that; open up your aperture, increase the ISO or reduce the shutter speed. It is up to you what combination you choose. For example I was shooting Sebastian and that kid is on the move all the time so I would need to keep the shutter speed pretty fast in order to get any shots that were not showing movement. I always like to keep my aperture wide open as I like shots with a shallow depth of field, (that is my personal preference), so in order to allow for the over exposure I set the ISO, (film speed), higher than I would normally do. When you are shooting snow I would advise not having the ISO on auto. 
How To Photograph Snow
How To Photograph Snow
How To Photograph Snow
Some general advice to keep in mind, if you are holding the camera by hand with a lightweight lens you can avoid camera shake no lower than 60/s and if your hand is not as steady as mine 125/s. If your snowy subject is not going to move, and never underestimate a slight breeze, by all means get the tripod out.
How To Photograph Snow
This next shot was a tricky one as there was bright white snow next to a black dog, namely Archie, the camera didn't know what had hit it. It was taken at 600ISO/ 4.5f / 250s and +2, I did however increase the exposure to +0.14 and the gamma correction to 0.93 in post processing. You can always fiddle a little in post processing but the pictures look better if you don't and you save time by getting right in the first place, just like shooting on transparency film.
How To Photograph Snow
I hope I have shed some light on the subject and set you on the way to whiter snow. Please email me or comment below if you have any further questions or anything was unclear to you. Also if you have any snowy pictures you have taken after this post or ones you want troubleshooting share them on the Archie & The Rug Facebook page.

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