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  1. #1

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    metering in the snow / the digital is debilitating !!

    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!
    Last edited by Deit39; 12-21-2009 at 02:06 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deit39 View Post
    it looks like I didn't compensate nearly enough... Really dark negatives.. overexposed but still readable.
    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.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  3. #3
    Marco B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deit39 View Post
    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.
    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.
    My website

    "The nineteenth century began by believing that what was reasonable was true, and it wound up by believing that what it saw a photograph of, was true." - William M. Ivins Jr.

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  4. #4

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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. #5
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    I take an incidental reading and add 1/2 a stop.
    Ben

  6. #6

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    Your negatives sound fine. Snow is white, so should be dark on a negative.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  7. #7
    Rick A's Avatar
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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. #8
    eddym's Avatar
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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.
    Eddy McDonald
    www.fotoartes.com
    Eschew defenestration!

  9. #9

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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.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  10. #10

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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

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