Saturday, February 9, 2013

It's a winter wonderland outside!

By no means is this a post about how to take photos in the snow...this was my experimentation at it!  If you're a photo person, please feel free to give me your input!

I was a little afraid that I would wake up this morning to find that ALL the snow we had dumped on us would be melted (as happened during the last "snow storm") but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's all still there!  I can't really give you a definite on how much snow really fell on us, I would say at least a foot, but there are parts that are past my waist and areas that you can still see ground.  It was pretty windy yesterday so there's lots of drifts!

Anyways, I decided to go out and experiment with my camera again.  It's slightly cloudy out, but the sun is shining through.  Before I headed out, I figured I should look up the best way to photograph snow.  So, I googled "how to photograph snow" and I found a Light Stalking post from 2010 that gave some pointers.  My only lens is a 55mm so I obviously couldn't achieve the exact affects the photographs have on this link, nor was I shooting under the same conditions.

He suggested taking photos with a setting of f/4, which are these two photos below.  Assuming I have the correct photography lingo down (please correct me if I'm wrong, I've never seemed to be able to get the correct vocabulary down for manual photography!), this would be too much exposure to light.

So, I adjusted to f/12, and that seemed to work a little better.  I can't quite remember what my shutter speed was, I adjusted it a few times just playing around, but I kept it at a quick shutter speed, around 1/1000. (Photo followers, should I have upped that a little more?  Some of these photos look cool but some probably could have used a little more contrast...)

Gorgeous sky!

Our car is buried...on one side!  The other side looks like it's been plowed! lol

I LOVE these photos of Daphne!  My shoveled deck gives the appearance of an edited, rustic photo! ;)  

Now I need to figure out the right setting for taking photos of my white dog against white snow!  I was trying to get a photo of all the frozen snow on her fur, but I may need that 300mm lens to achieve that... 

It was only after I came inside that I remembered about the little -/+ dial on my camera where I can change the amount of light that is let inside the lens...


  1. Oh no! I just wrote a huge, detailed comment, and my iPad ATE it! Darn!

    So let me try again. I'd say that most of your photos look overexposed; you need either a smaller f/stop or faster exposure.. Snow (and beach sand) can be tricky, fooling your light meter, which is why most cameras have a snow/sand setting in their 'scene' selection. Don't be afraid to use it. But it is complicated by the fact that you have a really bright day, and are often shooting a dark dog against the white snow. If you expose to show detail in your dog, you bleach out the snow. If you expose to get some good value gradations in the snow, you silhouette the dog. Generally it's recommended to overexpose a stop for snow/beach, but you seem to be too overexposed, probably because the day is just so bright. Which is why I loved what I could do in the darkroom, in my days teaching silver photography, sadly long gone. :-(

    Anyhow, I recommend bracketing exposure if you are trying to learn to expose manually. That means shoot one at the metered 'correct' exposure, and one above, and one below. Keep track of what you did so you know what works best for your camera/lens/etc.

    Meanwhile, have you been reading Art Project Girl lately? She has been posting some camera advice tutorials, based on her training at RISD, and reading her posts could be really helpful. Here's a link to her most recent post:

    Now I'd better publish this before my iPad gets hungry agin!

  2. Just looked at your pics again, and even the ones with the white dog are too overexposed. Smaller f/stop! or faster exposure! You definitely could use more depth of value in your snow, not more contrast (which would only bleach your snow even more). Try takins some pics late this afternoon, when you see some nice shadows on the snow. Good luck!

  3. Now, a smaller f/stop means you actually want a bigger number, right? I can never get it right in my head...

  4. Yes. Here's a link to an easy understanding of f/stops:

    Another thing to remember: the larger the f/stop OPENING, the LESS the depth of field. So in bright sunshine, when you can use a small lens opening, you can get greater depth of field (that means the area that the photo will be in focus). But you also need to think about exposure, because, if you are taking a pic of a moving object (your dog) you probably want a fast shutter speed to freeze the action rather than blur. Again, your DSLR likely has a scene setting for pets, or action photos.

    Thanks for helping this rusty old photo teacher think about all this stuff!