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Exposure for snow and mountains


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#1 Chris Clarke

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 06:55 AM

Hi all.
I'm off to the Swiss Alps for a few weeks on a film next week. I was hoping to take some stills whilst there on slide film. I'll be using an older camera so all my exposure will be through a meter (incident and spot).
I got to thinking about how to judge the correct exposure allowing for the snow and ice reflections and thought it would make an interesting topic generally for snow scenes, bright skies etc.
I love the way the snow scenes were treated in Fargo, but equally I'm interested in the epic blue skies and mountain vistas of the Alps.

I look forward to your ideas....

Chris.
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#2 Dan Goldberg

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 10:38 AM

Hello,

There are many things youc an do but it depends on what you're doing. I've heard that if you take the darkest shadow in your shot/picture and expose 2 stops less if it is really dark (black) or 1 stop less if it is only a little dark, it balances the bright white snow and the shadows very well. Of couse this all depends on the weather too. I'd suggest that if it is a bright sunny day and the snow is extremely bright.

As well, there is the "Sunny 16" rule. On a sunny day, with the lens set at f16, set the shutter speed to 1/ISO of the film you are using. With 100 ISO film, use 1/100 sec, with 400 speed film use 1/400 sec etc. Use 1/125 sec and 1/500 sec if your camera can't be set to the revious ISOs, alhtough 1/60 and 1/250 may be better since it is likely better to overexpose than underexpose. If it is overcast use f11.

Hope that helps! ;)

Dan Goldberg..

Edited by Dan Goldberg, 05 May 2007 - 10:39 AM.

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#3 Brandon J Barron

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 10:59 AM

Remeber, an incident meter is going to measure the light falling on the snow for 18%. So, use that meter and set your camera to that and, BAM you're whites are white. Now, spot meter is going to give you 18% reflection off the snow. So measure the snow, that will make all your snow gray, over expose 1stop and you'll have 36%, +2 72%, +3 and you'll have 144%, which will be blown. That theory being said, I would use the incient meter when possible and, and still underexpose just to be safe on the whites. As we all know, when reversal film blows whites, they are gone. Besides, underexposing slides will give you a very nice, saturated chrome.
I hope that helps. All those years of photo school should have taught me something.
Enjoy the Alps.

-Brandon
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#4 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 03:16 PM

Some photographers who work in the snow recommend to take a light reading directly from the sun-lit snow and then open up the aperture 1 and a half stops to two stops. Either use that strategy or look for a mid tone like the bark of a tree or an 18% grey card. Or use an incident light meter as has already been suggested.
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#5 Chris Clarke

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 01:39 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll be interested to see how the incident and interpreted spot readings compare.
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