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Thread: why is it so hard to get good pic in snow condition where most things are white

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    Member ivans75's Avatar
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    why is it so hard to get good pic in snow condition where most things are white

    Need help on some ideas in camera setting, light reading (composition), etc when shooting in the snow alpine region like mt buller for both landscape and moving skiers/snowboarders, i ve been taking alot of shots with diff apperture/speed but none give me satisfaction
    thanks in advance

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    There is a simple statement that photographers often forget to adhere to "Expose for the highlights".

    What this means is make sure you set your camera so that you do not blow out the highlights (whites) to pure white with no detail in the pixels. Once a photo is over-exposed, there is no way to recover the detail in those bright over-exposed areas. However your camera is good and having detail in the shadows. So expose for the highlights (snow in your instance) and then use your post processing to bring out the detail in the shadows.
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdj101711 View Post
    ..... when shooting in the snow alpine region like mt buller for both landscape and moving skiers/snowboarders, i ve been taking alot of shots with diff apperture/speed but none give me satisfaction
    thanks in advance
    I'm assuming that your images are too dark? dull and grey instead of bright and white?

    Post a sample image to give us an idea of what it is you don't like.
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Mdj... They may look disconcerting, but they will have all the image info
    (assuming properly exposed) that you will need to tweak them into how
    they are "supposed to look". That is, snow will be white, dark rocks dark,
    etc., etc...
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mdj101711 View Post
    Need help on some ideas in camera setting, light reading (composition), etc when shooting in the snow alpine region like mt buller for both landscape and moving skiers/snowboarders, i ve been taking alot of shots with diff apperture/speed but none give me satisfaction
    thanks in advance
    The problem is often/usually the white balance. Most cameras will assume the snow is neutral grey ... The results are then pretty ugly.

    If your camera has the feature, set a manual WB using your camera's method.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John King View Post
    The problem is often/usually the white balance. Most cameras will assume the snow is neutral grey ... The results are then pretty ugly.

    If your camera has the feature, set a manual WB using your camera's method.
    I've never found WB as a reason to differentiate white and or grey, or even black.
    In fact I regularly use black as my whitebalance reference point.

    But, when you use a WB tool that allows the use of a point, or selection area, to choose a white balance, you can easily use white grey or black .. assuming they are in fact white grey or black, and not tainted in some way.

    But what you've described in the underlined section is usually a metering issue.

    Another aspect of snow conditions is if it's bright and sunny and snow covered, or is it snow covered and gloomy and blizzard-like conditions.
    If it's bright sunny blue sky type weather .. a CPL(polariser) will help you immensely with keeping the massive highlight blowout in check.
    If it's gloomy blizzard like weather, then it's going to be very grey, and I remember the last time I was up there with the kids, +0.3 to +0.7Ev gave me well exposed kids, even tho the images displayed conditions much brighter than was the reality.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    To get back to your thread title, Mdj..., it's hard because you don't know how.
    So post up a typical, unaltered pic when you can and we can go from there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    I've never found WB as a reason to differentiate white and or grey, or even black.
    In fact I regularly use black as my whitebalance reference point.
    Arthur, this topic is routinely discussed on international fora where snow is a commonplace.

    Some cameras require a neutral grey card to take a custom white balance. Some are happy to use a small sheet of white paper. Undoubtedly there are some that have other requirements.

    Significant amounts of snow in a shot affects the WB because snow is not actually white, but cameras tend to assume that it is.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John King View Post
    .....

    Some cameras require a neutral grey card to take a custom white balance. Some are happy to use a small sheet of white paper. Undoubtedly there are some that have other requirements...
    I'm glad I have Nikon then. Never had a problem in snow(to the point where it caused me a problem).
    But I did once have a WB issue in an old bluestone ruin, amongst green and brown trees, cloudy conditions with sunny breaks and the walls still have paint on them trying to photograph some solidified tree sap. A very vidid orange red substance that just didn't want to be photographed nicely. Pulled out the grey card then .. only time other than the occasional flash or other light test.


    Quote Originally Posted by John King View Post
    .....
    Significant amounts of snow in a shot affects the WB because snow is not actually white, but cameras tend to assume that it is.
    Weird.
    I don't profess to be an expert in such matters, can only reiterate what my cameras have done over the years. From day one, I've the snow(clean patch) as my WB reference point in PP.
    Images come out looking ok(just usually a bit bluer than I prefer), but from the autoWB choice that the camera made .. I've never seen a variation that could be considered in any way "a problem".
    The only subtle variations I see are scene depenedent(eg. if snow in a green forest, AWB may produce a slightly red/magenta cast compensation for the excessive green component as well.
    (in PP!!) I usually point to the snow(always a clean patch) it then balances to a cold WB rendering, I tweak it with a touch more warmth and I'm done.

    Next time I'm out in the snow(hopefully soon) I'll use my grey card and also use the snow as another WB source and make a comparison.
    Will get back when I get it done.

    Admittedly I have limited experience in snow .. maybe a thousand or two images all up. But none of my three Nikons have ever given me WB issues in snow so that it botches the exposure in any way.

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    White balance is unlikely to be the problem. The problem will be exposure.

    Ivan, the way auto exposure works is that the camera measures the amount of light coming through the lens and adjusts the exposure to make it the "right" amount.

    What is the "right" amount? Well there are two factors: (a) how much light is falling on the scene (is the sun out? are there bright lights shining on it?), and (b) how bright are the objects in the scene? (Are we looking at snow? Or a lump of coal?)

    The camera does not and cannot know how bright the light falling on the scene is, but that's OK. All it really needs to know is how much light is being reflected from the scene, and it adjusts for that. It does that by adjusting the shutter speed. (That's in Av mode - other modes are similar only adjusting some other thing instead, such as aperture or ISO. We will stick with Av mode for this explanation.)

    So the camera tries to guess the "right" amount of light to let through by looking at how bright the scene is. It doesn't know if the scene is a flower or a face or a bird or a motorbike or a building or a candlelit dinner or a snowfield or a coal mine, it just knows how bright it is and adjusts the shutter speed to make it the exposure "correct".

    What is "correct"? So far as the camera is concerned, "correct" is where the overall average brightness equals medium grey. Medium grey is a known, standard, middling level of brightness, and it just so happens that if you make your picture average out to medium grey, it will be usually be correctly exposed. The camera assumes that every scene it sees is, on average, medium grey, adjusts the shutter speed, and Hey Presto! you get a correctly exposed picture. This usually works just fine for flowers and faces and birds and motorbikes and buildings and candlelit dinners, because they are all (on average) medium bright. However snowfields and coal mines mess the system up.

    The camera does not know that snow is snow, it just sees way too much brightness and increases the shutter speed until that glaring white is back to a sensible "correctly" exposed medium grey. And you get a horrible picture, way too dark!

    Now take a picture of a coal mine (or a man in a black suit standing in front of a hearse - anything mostly black). The camera does not know that this scene is supposed to be black, it just sees nowhere near enough brightness and reduces the shutter speed until all that black is back to a sensible "correctly" exposed medium grey. And you get a horrible picture, way too light!

    Simple rule: the camera tries to make everything medium grey.

    90% of the time, that's perfect. The other 10% of the time, YOU have to step in and say "No, I want it brighter than that". (Or darker, in the case of the coal mine.) You can do this with exposure compensation, or by switching to manual mode. Either way works. Most people will use one or the other depending on circumstances.
    Tony

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    You haven't given much detail about why you are not happy with photos and more importantly what settings you are using.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    White balance is unlikely to be the problem. The problem will be exposure.
    This is it.
    Snow can confuse the exposure the camera wants to capture depending on the settings you are using.
    Add +1 or 2 exposure compensation and see what happens. (and of cause you'll come back and say the photos are over-exposed already )

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    Agree with the above about using exposure compensation. Then it is a matter of experimenting until you get the effects that you want.
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    When you shoot anything white, you have to meter the scene manually to get correctly exposed pictures, if its bright white like snow or the white water of a breaking wave in the surf, use centre point metering on the brightest part of the scene and then set exposure to over expose 1 and 1/2 stops. I prefer to shoot everything in manual, if your a TV or AV kinda guy, you'll need to set your desired setting and then dial in 1 and 1/2 stops of + exposure compensation

    no more than 1 and 1/2 stops or the white snow will be burnt out and you'll have no texture in the snow just a mess of white, I've gone 2 stops over but it is playing with fire 1 and 1/12 works best for me


    Here are 2 pics of scenes that can really confuse a camera, but metering the scene properly will over ride what the camera thinks it has to do






    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by patchy; 07-10-2017 at 4:52pm.

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    Ausphotography Addict Geoff79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patchy View Post
    When you shoot anything white, you have to meter the scene manually to get correctly exposed pictures, if its bright white like snow or the white water of a breaking wave in the surf, use centre point metering on the brightest part of the scene and then set exposure to over expose 1 and 1/2 stops. I prefer to shoot everything in manual, if your a TV or AV kinda guy, you'll need to set your desired setting and then dial in 1 and 1/2 stops of + exposure compensation

    no more than 1 and 1/2 stops or the white snow will be burnt out and you'll have no texture in the snow just a mess of white, I've gone 2 stops over but it is playing with fire 1 and 1/12 works best for me


    Here are 2 pics of scenes that can really confuse a camera, but metering the scene properly will over ride what the camera thinks it has to do






    I know you’re just helping out here, but assuming they’re your shots, I like them a lot. Especially the bodyboarding one. Would love to see more.


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    Member patchy's Avatar
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    Yeah they are mine, I'll post up a few more when I work out how to do it??? can't find the image attachment thingy majiggy


    That was published in Rush body boarding magazine years and years ago along with dozens of others

    - - - Updated - - -

    see if this works???



    Last edited by patchy; 10-10-2017 at 8:30pm.

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    Ausphotography Addict Geoff79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patchy View Post
    Yeah they are mine, I'll post up a few more when I work out how to do it??? can't find the image attachment thingy majiggy


    That was published in Rush body boarding magazine years and years ago along with dozens of others

    - - - Updated - - -

    see if this works???



    http://i141.photobucket.com/albums/r...h-huge-ars.jpg
    Yep, that worked. That looks like a photo of me.

    Very cool. I saw in your bio you pretty much only shoot surfing shots. Would love to see them around here regularly.

    Are these shots taken from the beach?


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    If you want to see some technical description on shooting in snow. Tony Northrup has a great video on why exposure is difficult to get right on snow scenes and the relation between grey scale and the sensor exposure measurement. Just search on youtube for Tony Northrup.
    Please be honest with your Critique of my images. I may not always agree, but I will not be offended - CC assists my learning and is always appreciate

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    Member patchy's Avatar
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    You are at Umina, I lived in Wyoming for a few years, go and look at Banzai at Forresters beach, Crackneck at Bateau Bay it is about a 2km walk sth from the car park along the beach then very slippery rocks, take a big bottle of water if you go around there, I used to shoot a little bit there but mainly surfed as was before I got into photography, at Crackneck you'll need something about 400mm in total taking into account any crop effect the body you use adds and shoot from the rocks at the bottom of the cliff as you need a bit of elevation, and Banzai you can stand on the rocks at low tide about 20m from the surfers, just keep an eye out for the larger waves that will wash through on the incoming tide

    Both of those spots need a SE swell and N/SW winds mid tide going high or high going low


    These shots above were taken at Duranbah on the gold coast, shot with a 600/4 and D30 back in about 2002

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    Ausphotography Addict Geoff79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patchy View Post
    You are at Umina, I lived in Wyoming for a few years, go and look at Banzai at Forresters beach, Crackneck at Bateau Bay it is about a 2km walk sth from the car park along the beach then very slippery rocks, take a big bottle of water if you go around there, I used to shoot a little bit there but mainly surfed as was before I got into photography, at Crackneck you'll need something about 400mm in total taking into account any crop effect the body you use adds and shoot from the rocks at the bottom of the cliff as you need a bit of elevation, and Banzai you can stand on the rocks at low tide about 20m from the surfers, just keep an eye out for the larger waves that will wash through on the incoming tide

    Both of those spots need a SE swell and N/SW winds mid tide going high or high going low


    These shots above were taken at Duranbah on the gold coast, shot with a 600/4 and D30 back in about 2002
    Thanks for the tips. Well noted. I know of both those spots, though not actually been to Crackneck myself. I do need to get a lens first. Still stuck with ineffective all purpose lenses.

    I’m actually on a local photographers Facebook group thing and the guy who runs the thing, I think, mostly does drone photography. He must live at bateau bay as he has constant, and excellent shots at crackneck. Looks like an amazing, and rather heavy, wave. I’d love to surf it but cannot handle crowds. That said, the crowds would be perfect for surf photography.

    Just need a good lens. Thanks again for the tips.


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