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  1. #1
    pellicle's Avatar
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    printing snow as white but keeping texture

    Hi

    I want some texture to be appearing on snow in images like this

    Pardon the scan looking like it does ... but I'm not really interested in the digital versions of this.

    I'm intending to be contact printing this and, as I understand it, I can get a higher density on the paper than I can with enlargement (no longer have access to a 4x5 enlarger anyway).

    The side shown is actually away from the sun (on an overcast day), so I'm wondering is it quite normal that the white snow renders as grey looking in order for me to get texture appearing there? (or is this indicative of perhaps not pushing my exposure higher)

    thanks
    Theory: you understand why it should work but it doesn't
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    Here theory and practice meet, things don't work and I don't know why
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  2. #2

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    The paper can't get any denser than it's full black, and that's achievable via enlarging or contact printing, assuming you're using the same paper. Contact printing, on it's own, won't change that.

    But, to address your question;
    If you metered the snow and didn't compensate on the exposure by opening up 2 or 3 stops, then your negative may not have enough density to render the snow near white in a "normal" print. You might need to heavily dodge the snow to get it white, and perhaps filter for more contrast, or use a harder grade paper, in addition to dodging the snow.

    If the snow areas in the negative are sufficiently dense to render the snow near white, then you may be over-exposing the print.

    Getting snow rendered well is tricky, and it has all sorts of shades depending on the lighting, it certainly isn't always white.

  3. #3

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    Snow isn't hard to shoot by itself. Your camera's meter reading gives you the grayish look to the snow, since you are exposing for the brightest area in the scene. When you shoot a scene with snow and other subjects, (landscapes, buildings, people) the correct meter reading for the buildings, etc. will overexpose the snow and it will appear white with little detail in the print.

    Snow is very hard to expose properly when it is part of a scene. Some people meter off the snow, and open up two stops (which overexposes the snow, and correctly exposes the buildings, etc.). To get detail in the snow in a mixed scene, some dodging and burning during the print stage is usually in order.

    Using a lower contrast grade of paper usually produces a rather flat print with some detail in the snow. I have never successfully done split grade printing. Maybe someone who knows more than I do can comment on the application of split grade printing to snow scenes.
    Rick Jason.
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  4. #4
    sun of sand's Avatar
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    Tiny, man.
    Snow doesn't look brilliant white unless hit with sun so it may not be too far off ..how did it look when you took the shot? Dodge it a bit? Take shots of the snow till you get whitest as possible while retaining texture? I think too often people MAKE snow appear brilliantly white when it shouldn't be

  5. #5
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    It is precisely for situations like this that multigrade papers and split grade printing were developed.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  6. #6
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    It's also very helpful to shoot snow through a yellow filter (K-2, 8, etc.) as the snow will contain a good bit of blue light. The filter will help with microcontrast and make it more realistic. Follow what the other folks have said about exposure.
    juan

  7. #7
    pellicle's Avatar
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    Folks

    thanks for the suggestions. I thought I'd post a scan of the negative (as negative) for those how may be more comfortable answering questions with "some view of the negative" (also sun of sands comment to it being a small image)



    Sun of Sands, I agree that people try to print snow white, when this snow was not in direct light.

    Looking at the neg I can see that there is texture in there (and you can see the dust speck up there in the bit of snow in the middle of that sample). I know that the snow isn't blow out, and is more or less where I think is ideal on the negative.

    BTW I don't use an in camera meter, I'm using a 4x5 camera which has no meter, so I meter with a separate digital spot meter
    Theory: you understand why it should work but it doesn't
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    Here theory and practice meet, things don't work and I don't know why
    Homepages: here Blog: here

  8. #8

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    Take a look at snow scenes by Ansel Adams (for example). You may be surprised how much tone (i.e. grey) is given to the snow, but it still looks like snow.
    When printing snow, our brains may tell us it should be white. When viewing snow in a print, our brains tell us it is snow white, even when it is grey, providing the other tones in the print make it look like snow.
    Tim

  9. #9

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    I am not you, I don't have the neg, and am not printing it. That being said, here is what I learned about printing snow.

    Get to know your paper's dry down. Other than that, I second Tim's observation that snow white is perceptual. We see the texture in the snow because of the all the shadows and high lights in it. You say the day was over cast. This means the snow was not "white" as it was not in direct sunlight. Check out Earlyriser's photos in the gallery. Very few of the snow pics are white.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004



 

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