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  • Laura Paton

How to properly expose a snow scene

You may have taken a few pictures of snow lately only to be disappointed when you looked at the prints and noticed that the snow that was glistening white when you took the picture now appears a dull grey tone. The reason for this lies in your camera’s ability to average out the tones it sees and produce a photograph consisting of 18% grey tones. That’s great if you have a normal scene with sky, ground and a few people in it wearing different color clothing, But when your camera “sees” a predominately white scene as it does with snow or sometimes beach sand, the camera doesn’t have the ability to give an accurate exposure. It doesn’t matter if you paid $3000 or more for your camera or if you are using a simple point and shoot. If you rely on the camera’s meter reading you will NEVER EVER get the color of pure white snow that we all so much enjoyed seeing fall this past week!

So here’s the solution... You'll need to set your camera to overexpose the image. You only need to over expose 1-2 stops. There are a few simple ways to do this. If you want a truly perfect exposure of that beautiful winter landscape, your best bet is to meter off an 18% gray card. You can also take a metering off a blue sky (provided there is a blue sky, which often when it snows there isn’t) then lock in that exposure and recompose. But an even easier and quicker method that will generally provide satisfactory results is to set your camera’ s exposure compensation meter to +1EV (1x on some camera models) then try 1.5, then 2. One of these shots will render a white that you are happy with. Hope this explanation helps and remember, if you want to learn more.... sign up for my individual or group photo instruction with personalized instruction at an affordable price.

Please visit my blog page again soon! My next blog will cover how to photograph a sunbeam.

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