metering in the snow / the digital is debilitating !!

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Deit39, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. Deit39

    Deit39 Member

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    Are there any general rules of thumb for metering in fresh fallen snow? I woke up earlier than I usually do today to run about after the puny blizzard we had here in North New Jersey.. using a Minolta Autocord TLR and a Bronica Zenza (S2? not sure the model) metering with my Sekonic L-308B light meter.. and I am a child of the digital age (I'm 23) and I have a general knowledge of exposure.. unfortunately I've been crippled by technology and my knowledge of exposure fell short today!! .. I knew that all the snow and light reflecting off the snow would need to be compensated for and that my meter would try to read the bright white snow for middle gray.. So I factored in a stop or two depending on the situation.. But I just developed the two rolls I shot and it looks like I didn't compensate nearly enough... Really dark negatives.. overexposed but still readable.

    the more I think about this, the more I feel the need to start reading about, and getting into, the zone system. I'm too carefree and lazy.

    So.. what are your tips for shooting in the snow?

    AND! - side topic - "Kids these days!!!" (of which I'm guilty) You can teach them (me) exposure.. but when will they begin to THINK in terms of exposure when the digital LCD tells them what adjustments are to be made?! When will they (me) realize that they've got to get back to the fundamentals!
     
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  2. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    It looks like you compensated too much if they are over exposed.

    The general idea is to compensate about +1.5 to +2 stops if the scene is predominantly white (for an ambient light reading) so it sounds like you did the right thing.

    Have you printed any yet? It may be that all the snow is making the negative appear too dark but in reality, it may be correct.


    Steve.
     
  3. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Your negatives should be dark! The snow is white, and thus the negative must be dark in those parts to render a light white snowy scene in your paper positive.

    You probably did OK, and should not overexpose more than you did... you may though, have overdeveloped the negative somewhat if you really feel they are to dark, but the best judge for that would be to make a quick contact print and see how that turns out and how printable they are.
     
  4. alkos

    alkos Member

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    Use your meter in incident mode (white bulb over the sensor) and measure the light falling on the snow instead of the reflected one (bulb should be pointed towards the camera). Apply no corrections, negative will cope with the contrast.
     
  5. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I take an incidental reading and add 1/2 a stop.
     
  6. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Your negatives sound fine. Snow is white, so should be dark on a negative.
     
  7. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    So far, everybody is right. You should have a dense looking negative. It may even look very contrasty depending on subject matter.

    Rick
     
  8. eddym

    eddym Member

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    On the other hand, if you are shooting snow and nothing but snow, the negs will indeed be dark, but there will be almost no contrast.
     
  9. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    P.S. Digital is not debilitating. Reflected light meters (particularly in-camera ones) are, if you do not know how to use them fairly precisely. This holds true for digital and film. I do not know if debilitating is the right word for what I mean, however. "Do not give optimum results in most circumstances" is probably how I would phrase it.
     
  10. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    It depends on what you want to show but, if you're shooting negs: If you want to show a brilliant white landscape then overexpose 3 or 4 f/stops from what the meter tells you. If you're trying to show more shadow detail then meter the shadow area and adjust exposure accordingly... common rule-of-thumb is minus 2 f/stops but depends. If you're trying to show "slightly" more textural and tonal detail in the snow then only over expose 2 f/stops. If you want to show "lots" of textural and tonal detail (little sparkles and texture) then only overexpose 1 f/stop or expose normally and overdevelop to increase contrast to accentuate textures. The latter is really only if there are no objects showing that matter and you're just concerned about the snow itself.

    Slides require a different approach, of course.

    Keep your feet and hands warm :smile:
     
  11. WolfTales

    WolfTales Member

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    Well to really understand exposure, you need a darkroom to print in (or a scanner to make a digital print onto a computer screen).

    The only job of the film is to capture information. And it did that.

    Now you have to take that information and successfully transfer it onto another media. Thats where differences in exposure will be a factor.
     
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  12. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    I agree with WolfTales. Before digital existed I used to tell people first starting out in photography to put their cameras on manual, shoot slides and have them processed at a consistently good lab. Slides don't lie and can be the best teacher for understanding and controlling basic exposure. Once they understood this then I told people to process and print their own B&W. If someone else is correcting their mistakes they'll never learn how to prevent them.
     
  13. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

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    Haven't had challenges relative to exposure. However, just thought I would stick my oar in here, when capturing in color, what I have to notice & correct is color temp. especially if it's a bright sunny day after a snow. I find that snow can be a little blue in color.

    Have a wonderful week.
     
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  15. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    A little more detailed description of the overall scene and the OP's intent on what he wanted to capture would probably help.
     
  16. photokalia

    photokalia Member

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    Not sure if this will help, but in difficult lighting situations, I like to meter of the back of my hand to get my exposure in the ballpark, and then compensate a little if I need to from there.
     
  17. Deit39

    Deit39 Member

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    well thank you to all who replied
    and yes, snow is white and I expected dark negs, but some of mine are a bit TOO dense.
    and I can't print yet, saving up money for darkroom equip.. should be ready after the holidays.
    So in a months time, the real fun will begin and I'll get back to printing!
     
  18. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    I re-read your original post. If you only overexposed 1 or 2 f/stops and your negs are really that dense then something else is awry. Maybe the cold weather is affecting your shutter speed or aperture... slow/sticky/jamming? And... you did set the appropriate ISO on the meter, right? :smile:
     
  19. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    It's good general advice to meter from the palm of the hand rather than the back as the palm skin colour doesn't vary much with regard to overall skin colour. With this method it is usual to add one stop of exposure.

    However, if you are lucky enough to have a skin tone which has the same reflectance as a standard grey card, then you are in luck!


    Steve.
     
  20. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    For slides of skiers and snow boarders, take a reading of the palm of your and a reading of a dark parka and average, unless of course you find an appropriately dark gray parka.

    Steve
     
  21. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    Reading this, I'm a bit confused. IF you took an incident reading and compensated, you've done too much. The incident reading if done right, will give you all you need.

    But I'm not sure about which WAY you compensated, either. If you added exposure, yes, you would get overexposed negatives. But you say you didn't compensate enough, which suggests that you may have given LESS exposure and don't think you went far enough. Were you to have cut your exposure, you might well have UNDERexposed. Just don't compensate and you should do fine, but be sure that you are pointing the incident meter AWAY from the camera if you stay at the camera position and are in the same light, or, if you go to the subject you'd point the meter toward the camera. Note that in both these cases the meter would be pointing in the same direction.

    Using a reflected light meter, yes, whatever you meter is assumed in the design of the meter to be middle gray. Using an incident meter is far more reliable when working in snow or other unusual conditions. Fog too.
     
  22. Galah

    Galah Member

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    OK, take it from basic principles.

    Snow is white, so you want it to look white in the print (metering without exposure compensation will render it as grey in your print).

    You want the snow to show texture in the print? Open up (let in MORE light: use a smaller "f" numer, i.e. a larger opening in the aperture) 2 to 2.5 stops.

    None or little texture? Open up 3 stops.

    Taking it another way.

    Snow is white = 90% reflectivity (meter assumes 18%).

    So, snow reflects 5x more than expected, so increase exposure time 5 times.

    (Hence, for example, 1/250th becomes 5 x 1/125th = 1/25th :smile:

    In the negatives, snow should look dark as snow is a "highlight". :smile:
     
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  23. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    It will already show texture when you take your reading directly off the snow itself, i.e. put it in the middle of the scale.
    No need (on the contrary) to open up the aperture for that.
     
  24. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    If your negatives are super dense, you may be over-developing. I'm surprised no one mentioned that yet.

    Have you run tests with this film and developer combo? Does it give you consistent results in other high contrast situations?
     
  25. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    If you read the snow on the middle of the scale it will certainly show texture but it will land in that part of the curve (straight line) where tones are separated the most. Also, all those dark things like trees, skiers, space aliens, schmoos, will be featureless black (holes in the world). What you'd naturally do then in the darkroom as an intuitive remedy to a vastly underexposed negative would be to increase the contrast to bring it back up to a full scale, and then your snow will look like chromium plated on sandpaper. Try it and see.

    You've got a meter capable of straight incident reading. All you have to do is use it.
     
  26. Deit39

    Deit39 Member

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    ok. my temp of chemicals was roughly 70F and according to D-76 I required 14 mins.. I did an initial water wash for a minute then developer I did an initial 30 sec agitation and then 10 seconds every minute for the remaining 13.5 mins.. Sprint stop for 2 mins, Ilford Rapid Fixer 1:9 for (from memory) 10 mins, wash for 3 mins, Hypo clear for 3 mins, another wash for 5 mins dumping frequently, then photoflo for 30 secs or so..