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  • Photographing snow/ice

    I'm looking for suggested settings for photographing scenes with a lot of snow/ice in them. We're doing a cruise through the Inside Passage in a couple of weeks and I'd like to be prepared.
    From what I've read on the subject it looks like it is best to shoot bracketed shots of +1.0 +1.5 +2.0 to have a good chance of getting a decent shot. I have 4 metering modes available, Evaluative, Partial, Spot, Centre-weighted, which is the most suitable?

  • #2
    Sorry John, can't help you with any useful information. But my offer to carry your bags on the last trip still stands for this trip - looking forward to the photos.

    Cheers, Gary

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    • #3
      I did a search of Fstoppers, not a real lot showed up, but there was this article, mostly with general tips, but you might get a couple of things out of it.

      https://fstoppers.com/education/tips...ng-snow-157375

      Or theres this from B&H,
      https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora...otographs-snow
      Cheers, Brad.

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      • #4
        John, never photographrd snow (too cold), but the is still snow at BawBaw and Buller. I would be going up there and running some tests.

        Bob

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        • Grumpy John
          Grumpy John commented
          Editing a comment
          I might wait for a nice sunny day and look for a sandy beach. Similar settings apply.

        • oldgreybeard
          oldgreybeard commented
          Editing a comment
          I read your comment last night and thought I would sleep on it. As I said, I have not photographed snow / ice so cannot offer advice, but I will raise a few things for you to consider .
          1. Quality of light - from experience in UK and Ireland last summer (thier time), there was a big difference in the quality of light. The light was much softer (less contrasty) resulting in flatter images with less intense highlights and shadows. The colour of the light (white balance) was noticeably bluer resulting in a WB of around 6000 for 'daylight'..
          2. Exposure is going to be more difficult due to the lower light contrast. On a number of occassions in UK, noteably at Stone Henge, I could not reliably use auto exposure and the manual settings which I would use in Australia were out by up to 2 stops. I would expect your settings for a "Nice sunny day at the beach' are not going to simulate a vast snow / ice scene.
          3. Focus - most DSLRs use image contrast for auto focus. As much as I had problems with auto exposure at Stone Henge, auto focusmore often than not resulted in the auto focus 'hunting'. I used manual focus probably more often than auto exposure.
          4. Metering mode - I doubt that there would be much difference between metering modes, unless the image contains a good tonal range and contrast, in which case I would use the mode you are most comfortable with.
          5. Bracketing is possibly a reasonable sameguard - if you have enough memory cards. With the D800 I get just under 800 images on a 64GB memory card. If I an bracketing 3 exosures for every shop that would reduce the number to about 250. My average daily number of shots was a bit over 100 - so I would need a new card every 2nd or 3rd day.
          6.How accurate do you need to be? What are your realistic expectation of being able to correct colour balance, exposure errors and image contrast, etc. in post-production?

          Sorry John, no answer - just questions for you to contemplate

          Bob
          Last edited by oldgreybeard; 13th September 2017, 09:14 AM.

      • #5
        Thanks for the response Bob. I think the main difference this time will be that I am shooting in RAW which will give me much more control in PP.
        From what I have read on the subject :
        "Finding the correct white balance while photographing snow can be tricky. More often than not, snow reads on the blue side of the color spectrum. If you don’t plan on adjusting your white balance and prefer to get everything right in-camera, use the “flash” setting. It is intended to compensate for bluish flash lighting, and can warm up your snow-filled image. However, if you try to resolve all of the blue, your snow could suddenly have a yellow cast to it, which is obviously not ideal. A slight blue cast with neutral highlights results in a balanced image."
        So your comments in point one are spot on
        Exposure is definitely going to be a trial and error situation, but I'll try setting the EV to +1.5 and bracketing .5 stop either side for starters.
        Focus, another trial and error situation.
        I think I'll stick with my usual spot metering setting unless the results indicate otherwise.
        Regarding memory card, for my 7D I have a 128G CF card capable of holding in excess of 2000 images and a 16G Cf card which holds ~600 images. For my 100D I have 2 x 32G SD cards cabable of holding 1200 images each.

        I have Hoya CIRC-PL filters for my Sigma 17-70 and Sigma 24-105 lenses, which should help in achieving better results. I also use lens hoods when shooting outdoors to help keep out extraneous light . My Sigma 8-16 does not accept filters.

        At the end of the day I will be shooting landscapes and will have plenty of time to make adjustments. Also having 2 cameras and shooting RAW should give me plenty of PP experience.

        Here are a few of images from my 2010 cruise, straight from the camera (resized for forum). Feel free to have a play with them if you wish.

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        • #6
          Heres another article, its on a Nikon website, but the info will still be relevant to you.

          http://www.nikonusa.com/en/learn-and...andscapes.html
          Cheers, Brad.

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          • #7
            Played with the first image while I had a coffee.

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            I would like to see less of the blue in the mountains, but removing anymore results in blown highlights in the snow cap. It would probably have been better if your white balance had been warmer. I think you might need to experiment with that - maybe do bracketed white balance (if the Canon camera will allow it) rather than bracket exposure.

            In all of the images white balance is the major concern. Although exposure is a bit under, setting a +1 stop EV should fix that. You seem to be consistent (with one exception) with your exposure.

            Hope this helps.

            Bob

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            • Grumpy John
              Grumpy John commented
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            • oldgreybeard
              oldgreybeard commented
              Editing a comment
              I see that you have the option to use a custom white balance. I think it would be worth trying.

            • Grumpy John
              Grumpy John commented
              Editing a comment
              Bob, while I agree that setting white balance "in camera" is probably the way to go, for several reasons I would prefer to leave it at AWB
              1 as the light changes I would have to apply a different value
              2 there is a very good chance that I would forget to reset the WB after the shoot, thereby potentially ruining subsequent shots (DAMHIKT)
              3 shooting in RAW gives me plenty of control over WB in PP

          • #8
            Yes, I agree that changing to manual mode takes some practice and a more regimented approach to you photography practices. However, it isn't as hard as you might beleive. If you want to take a drive to Mt Waverley, I am happy to spend a couple of hours with you and show you my routine.
            Had a go at another of your images - another challenge wnd only partially successful.

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            • #9
              I had a play with them all. I moved the black point and white point, and a little bit of contrast and sharpening. I tried to warm the white balance, but I didn't like what it did to the snow so left them as is.
              I think giving the whites a boost by moving the white point has made the snow look whiter, the blue hue helps convey the feeling of coldness ( IMHO )
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              Cheers, Brad.

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              • #10
                Interesting to see the different methods to try and improve the posted images. I think that all will agree that the job was made more difficult because the original images were shot in jpeg using the auto setting on a point and shoot camera.

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                • #11
                  LOL - I've been trying to figure out what menu settings on the Canon 7D which might have caused these problems.

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                  • #12
                    Originally posted by oldgreybeard View Post
                    LOL - I've been trying to figure out what menu settings on the Canon 7D which might have caused these problems.
                    Sorry guys, I neglected to mention that the camera I had back in 2010 was a DiMAGE Z20. basically a fancy point and shoot. The camera had a menu driven manual setting system that was hard to use, so I mainly used the preset settings on the dial. This coupled with the fact that the images were saved as jpeg files is why I ended up with very ordinary images.
                    In fact these images were the catalyst for me to invest in a DSLR, and I have never regretted it.

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                    • #13
                      John, you raise an interesting point
                      while I agree that setting white balance "in camera" is probably the way to go, for several reasons I would prefer to leave it at AWB

                      Personally , unless I am shooting under mixed lighting conditions, I always have my WB set to daylight. But I also include a reference card (X-Rite Colorchecker Passport) but it could be a white card or a neutral grey card in a 'reference' image, which I use to establish the WB settings in Lightroom or Camera Raw when converting the Raw images .

                      There are 3 reasons for doing this:
                      1. AWB can , and often does, change when the scene contains large areas of a 'single' colour even when the light does not change. The camera is fooled into thinking there is a colour cast which needs to be corrected.
                      2. I want a known 'standard' to select when using the WB eye dropper. This is particularly important in avoiding 'false' white or mid-grey. - Technically you cannot use pure white for white balancing because pure white contains no colour.
                      3. I have a camera prolile based on the X-Rite Color Checker, which when applied in Lightroom or camera Raw, establishes a 'preset' against which the reference image colours are known to be 'correct" - this is analogous to establishing a colour profile for your computer monitor and / or ptinter to ensure that the colours you see on the monitor and print are the same, only it ensures that the colours your camera captures are also matched to the screen and printer. This not something that needs needs to be done on a frequent basis.

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                      Here I am using the x_Rite passport, but it could be a white card, it just needs to be 40% or more of the image and is in the same light as the scene you are photographing. You only need one reference image for each lighting condition. After you have used the eye dropper to get the correct WB for the reference image, you can plug these Temp and Tint values into any image taken under similar light conditions.

                      These values can be used for images taken under similar light conditions at anytime , not just on the day in which the reference image was taken. Over time, you will build up a set of reference files which will give you custom white balance values which you can incorpoarate into your RAW conversion process. Using my camera WB set to daylight means that I have a standard representaion of the image on the LCD screen on the back of the camera against which i can evaluate the exosure histogram and make educated decisions relating the treatment of highlights and shadows. AWB provides a 'moving target' which I find annoying to unhelpful.

                      Bob

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