snow problem

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Leon, Feb 18, 2005.

  1. Leon

    Leon Member

    Messages:
    2,075
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Location:
    Kent, Englan
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    it looks there might be some significant snowfall in my area early next week. This is quite rare for where I live so I am a bit flummoxed about metering/ filters etc for black and white to make the negative snow tones sparkle.

    any tips?
     
  2. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    "Sparkle" is difficult - especially with fresh snow. Old snow in sunlight sparkles, ne snow in overcast doesn't.

    The main thing is to avoid overexposing the snow, while keeping detail in the shadows. I suggest using a relatively long-scale film which can take just about anything - "traditional grain" or chromogenic. In my experience the Delta or T-grain films just cannot handle the contrast range.
     
  3. Jeffrey A. Steinberg

    Jeffrey A. Steinberg Member

    Messages:
    296
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2004
    Location:
    Scarsdale, N
    Here's the issue. If you use a built-in meter, your camera is going to try to read the entire scene as 18% gray so you get washed out whites.

    There are three solutions:

    Get an incident meter and hold it pointing towards the lens axis and take a reading. That will render everything in the proper place provided the light where you are doing this is the same as falling on the scene you are taking a picture of.

    The other solution is to recognize that the camera's meter is doing that and open up between 2 stop and bracket around that

    The last solution is to meter off a grey card. Put it down in the snow, fill the frame with they gray card and then meter. Hold the meter so its not changed, look up and recompose. Take the photo and you are set.
     
  4. juan

    juan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,745
    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    St. Simons I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Use a yellow filter - K2 by the old Kodak numbering system (my filters are even older than me) - I think that's a #8 in the more modern numbering method.
    juan
     
  5. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    It seems to me that it is the opposite of dealing with deep shadows. So metering off the snow, and closing down two stops ought to get you into the right area.

    I'm assuming that you plan to use monochrome, colour stock is more demanding of acurate exposure, as I'm sure you know.
     
  6. Leon

    Leon Member

    Messages:
    2,075
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Location:
    Kent, Englan
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    thanks everyone.

    Jeffrey - I use a spot meter and manual cameras but yours is fine advice none the less.

    Juan - I'm curious to know what effect the yellow filter has on the snow?
     
  7. Max Power

    Max Power Member

    Messages:
    598
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2004
    Location:
    Aylmer, QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Over the last 4 months or so, I have shot maybe 20 rolls of 120 and 35mm, all in snowy conditions. It's a condition of living where I do!!! :D

    The simplest solution is to use an incident meter. If you haven't got a hand-held meter, use sunny-16. If you only have a built-in reflective meter, compensate at least one stop, if not two, depending upon how dark your subject is. I've used both Delta-400 and FP4+ with great success in snowy conditions.

    Basically, don't trust reflective readings and you should be OK.

    Hope this helps,
    Kent
     
  8. Timothy

    Timothy Member

    Messages:
    199
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Toronto
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Hi Leon,

    We have had L O T S of opportunity to "work with snow" around here. The yellow filter is a very good idea because most of the light being reflected is from the blue end so using the yellow filter is about the only way to get some texture in the snow.

    Tim R
     
  9. Jeffrey A. Steinberg

    Jeffrey A. Steinberg Member

    Messages:
    296
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2004
    Location:
    Scarsdale, N
    So, just find a 18% gray object and spot meter that. The bark of trees can work. Even the green in trees maps to grey for most trees. Sometimes you can even use a blue sky with the right shade.

    With a spot meter, I think its easier--just find something that is gray and meter it. Take a few meters of different grays and then average them. Works the same as the other three methods.

    Or, I just realized, bring a small gray card, put it in the same light as the subject and spot meter off that!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2005
  10. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Open up two stops, not close down! :D
     
  11. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    If you want snow to sparkle then you need to increase local contrast. The yellow filter that Juan mentions does that by affecting the blue sky reflections that all sunlit snow contains.

    Another means of increasing local contrast would be to meter and open the lens one stop (after adjusting for filter factors) which would place the snow values on Zone VI and then giving the film plus one or one and one half development. Since increased development is more affective of the higher film densities (snow) the local contrast is increased.
     
  12. rogueish

    rogueish Member

    Messages:
    877
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2004
    Location:
    3rd Rock
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can also meter off the back of your hand if nothing else is available. Also off a friend's gray coat, cement walls, old pavement (new pavement is still black), off a gray dog once, and trees (as already mentioned) are good too.
     
  13. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I always carry the palm of my left hand with me. I know from comparing to a gray card that it's 1 stop brighter than medium gray. So in difficult lighting, I put the palm of my hand in the same light as the subject and then open up 1 stop from the recommended exposure. I'd bracket in half-stops over what seemed an appropriate range if the lighting were very contrasty.

    Here's the Ansel Adams rundown on snow:

    Shadows on snow in sunlit landscapes Zone VI - open up 1 stop
    Average snow with acute side lighting Zone VII - open up 2 stops
    Textured snow Zone VIII - open up 3 stops
    Snow in flat sunlight Zone IX - open up 4 stops

    These all assume that you're spot metering off the snow itself under the given conditions.

    See my gallery for a woodpile in the snow. I metered with the camera's spot meter and opened up 2 1/2 stops from the sunlit snow reading. Reflected light from the snow was filling in the shadows, so the contrast range wasn't that excessive. Donald's advice is good for flatter lighting than I had.

    Hope this helps.

    Lee
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. dr bob

    dr bob Member

    Messages:
    871
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Annapolis, M
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I have observed that many photographers (including your's truly)make the mistake of thinking that snow is white. It really isn't, especially in shadow. Sunlit scenes will have so much contrast you will probably have to consider reducing it during development. I made the mistake of thinking a Wratten 11 or 15 would bring out the "sparkles" in a local scene - wrong! The result was completely dark shadows without any detail (TX400). I rephotographed with a Wratten 47 (blue) and the shadows popped out perfectly. This seems to fly in the face of general logic until one considers that the shadows in a sunlit scene are illuminated by blue light.

    Several posts have advised the use of incident metering which is good. I use the palm-of-the-hand method when using a spot meter in such situations but mostly just guess based on "sunny-16". Contrast can be modified, slightly, through development but keep good records. (How many images in the galleries have "unknown, unrecorded, et c. given as the exposure specs?)
     
  16. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
     
  17. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,609
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2002
    Location:
    Northern Eng
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Leon, I meter from the snow and open up two stops as has been suggested and it works for me. One point that has not been mentioned is to use side lighting or back lighting to provide the shadows that gives the texture that makes large areas of white look like snow in a black and white print.
     
  18. rbarker

    rbarker Member

    Messages:
    2,222
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2004
    Location:
    Rio Rancho,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Mmmmm, Zone III snow. That would be different. :cool:

    I agree - if metering the snow itself, open up, not close down the aperture to push the snow value up the scale. But, I sometimes confuse that myself.

    Assuming a sun angle sufficient to create some texture, Leon, the highlights in the snow will be full spectrum, but the micro shadows will be heavily blue. Thus, the yellow filter accentuates that by darkening the blue shadows, as it does with blue sky. Even heavier filtration can work, depending on what else is in the scene.
     
  19. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Well, at least I got the number right. :sad:
     
  20. roteague

    roteague Member

    Messages:
    6,671
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Location:
    Kaneohe, Haw
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Provia F100, 81A :D
     
  21. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Leon, you use of a staining dev like pyrocat (which I know you use) will help enormously if you get hot scintilations or whatever they are called. From experience in full sun in Spain and South Africa on small rocks, logs etc these devs really help to hold things within an easily printable (or burnable) range. You will have good margin for error with local overexposure etc with these devs, which you will be thankful for if you get shaded wnow and sunlit etc. Personally I dont just meter one area, I would meter a few areas of snow therefore getting a fuller idea of the range to be meshed with the neg, but I am sure you would do this anyway. You'll have no problems.

    Tom
     
  22. Leon

    Leon Member

    Messages:
    2,075
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Location:
    Kent, Englan
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    thanks everyone ... I guess I was most interested in effective filter choices - looks like yellow is the way to go. It's always good to get some thoughts on others metering methods too.
     
  23. ElrodCod

    ElrodCod Member

    Messages:
    141
    Joined:
    May 24, 2004
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Closing down two stops will put the snow around zone III. You should open up three stops for zone VIII snow.
     
  24. Leon

    Leon Member

    Messages:
    2,075
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Location:
    Kent, Englan
    Shooter:
    Medium Format

    poor old Dave - makes one very easy to make mistake and he gets pounced on from all angles. Perhaps people should read the threads before responding ??? :wink:
     
  25. ElrodCod

    ElrodCod Member

    Messages:
    141
    Joined:
    May 24, 2004
    Location:
    Florida
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Not near as much fun as pouncing!
     
  26. Leon

    Leon Member

    Messages:
    2,075
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Location:
    Kent, Englan
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    ok - i admit, pouncing is fun :smile: