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Old Jan 22, 2012, 2:07 PM   #1
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Default Snow Shots

I'm looking for advice on taking photos of a group going skiing. Exposure metering in particular - how do we expose the subject properly without blowing out the snow?

Also, how fast a shutter speed do I need to stop motion on slow-moving skiers?

Thanks

Jim, in Iowa
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Old Jan 22, 2012, 7:03 PM   #2
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You may try f/8 - f/11 aperture, +1 e.v. and 1/500 for starters. You may need to play with AWB a bit. Try Auto WB first.
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Old Jan 22, 2012, 8:38 PM   #3
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Avoid auto white balance, that most likely that will turn the snow a bright blue. Shoot RAW so you can deal with the white balance later - how much you will have to do is likely to do with the amount of snow in the image.

Manual exposure is the best bet. Do some test shots and look the histogram
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Old Jan 22, 2012, 9:48 PM   #4
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If it is sunny, you won't have a problem with shutter speed, but the high contrast can give problems with subject exposure. Try metering on the snow and using +2EV to start with. Fill flash can help if skiers are close enough. (fortunately, if they are far away, details aren't going to be as visible anyway). As Bill mentions, snow tends to look blueish with auto WB. The cloudy setting should work better, even in sun.
Shooting raw will give you more exposure latitude as well as more WB control.

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Old Jan 23, 2012, 1:53 AM   #5
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I found shooting with a flash WB is best seems to give a whiter snow.
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Old Jan 23, 2012, 2:58 AM   #6
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hi i found that shooting RAW and give it some +ev will help
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Old Jan 24, 2012, 9:11 AM   #7
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My camera does reasonably well with the white balance, so just leave it on daylight setting (rather than AWB) if the sun is out.

The big thing to keep in mind is the exposure - cameras are designed to make the scene overall equal to grey, so if there's a lot of snow, or if you meter off of the snow, it will look grey (underexposed) - overexposure isn't normally a problem with lots of bright snow around. That's why everyone above gave various suggestions for setting a +ev, to compensate. My recommendation would be to start off with some sample shots using +1 EV and see where that gets you (I shoot raw and have a forgiving camera for underexposed shots, not all cameras are like that). Not all cameras meter the same, so you'll need to play around a bit. Keep in mind that if your shot includes a lot of dark trees, which could blow out the snow.

Chimp a lot if you can, especially when conditions change. I use the blinkies rather than the histogram, both give you the same idea.
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Old Jan 24, 2012, 11:19 PM   #8
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Exposure, dress warm. If you are around to take their photos, standing about will get cold, colder than if you are part of the ski group. Keep your camera warm, I usually slip mine under my outer jacket, but not inside the fleece layers. Spare battery can go warmer.

As to your photo exposures, use mtngal's "blinkies" to make sure you are not clipping the highlites, or use the camera's histogram and make sure you fill all the way to the right, just short of clipping. Doing your exposures from a gray card would be best, but carrying one on a ski hill might be a challenge.

And i know this last is the most obvious, really watch to make sure you are between the sun and your subjects. The dynamic range on a sunlit ski hill will either give you dark shadows for your subjects or blown out surroundings if you don't watch the sun's location.

Now if only we had some consistent snow this year...
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Old Jan 29, 2012, 10:26 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the help! Here's the closing shot for the trip:

This photo is heavily processed to bring out the kids, but it started with a good exposure. I boosted the fill light and then detail level and saturation to get the jackets to look right.

My Tokina 11-16 did a lot better with Ev +1. The 24-105mm did well on it's own, though I would get some darker shots here and there.
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Old Jan 29, 2012, 11:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iowa_jim View Post
....
My Tokina 11-16 did a lot better with Ev +1. The 24-105mm did well on it's own, though I would get some darker shots here and there.
The variation is due to the amount of snow in the metered parts of the image - that will often change from shot to shot even when the brightness of the scene is not changing.

That is a good reason to use manual settings. Once you have figured out what works best by looking at the blinkies, histogram, ... look at the EXIF data for that image to find the values to use.
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