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Snow•tog•ra•phy

Photo Tip of the Day

Snowtography – noun: Getting the perfect shot of a winter wonderland before your fingers freeze off. (see also: photografreeze)

Snow means lots of things: snowball fights, harried commutes, slippery roads. It also means great opportunities for amateur photographers brave enough to capture one of nature’s great phenomena before the urge to go inside and drink lots of hot chocolate sweeps over you.

So what’s the best way to take pictures of blindingly white snowscapes? If you do nothing, your camera will be confused and make everything mid-toned, which makes for dreary gray images. Here are some tips to help your camera:

Like any other photograph, you must frame and focus first. Then you have to ‘fool’ the camera…the camera thinks it is very bright and will make everything darker. So you have to choose an exposure compensation value between +2/3 and + 1 2/3 that will lighten everything. If your camera has an Exposure Compensation feature, you dial the PLUS in. If you want to do it manually, look at the meter reading and remember the settings—then in the manual function area dial in the new aperture and shutter speed.  Your goal is to intentionally overexpose the frame, so that the snow looks white but other objects aren’t blown out.

Here are some of my winter shots:

Here is a photograph of as it came out of the camera. The camera thought there was lots of light because of the snow, so it made the photograph darker:

I added 1 “stop” to the camera by using the Exposure Compensation button, and the scene became properly exposed:

 

I was in Brattleboro, Vermont over the weekend and I happened upon a Ski Jumping competition. It was very cool (pun intended) to be so close to this iconic Olympic sport which I have only seen on tv. What’s interesting to note is that the jumpers fly through the air about 15 feet above the jump.

All rules are meant to be broken and here I wanted the foreground to GO DARK, because the sunset was spectacular in Townshend, Vermont and the eye expects a sunset to occur in the darkening sky.

 

 

All photographs copyright Phil Cantor 2013