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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Use Exposure Compensation with Snow

Well, we've reached that time of year here in Connecticut when we're starting to see snow. As much as I hate cold weather, I have to admit that snow is wonderful to photograph--particularly when you can photograph it from indoors. I shot the photo here from my bathroom window looking out at some tall trees in my neighborhood. It was still snowing when I shot the photo and the skies were laden and gray, but the snow was wet and looked great clinging to the branches of the trees.

One problem with photographing snow (whether you're shooting from a warm cozy house or not) is that it fools light meters into thinking that there is more light than there really is. This causes the camera to underexpose (give too little light) the snow, which creates photos of gray rather than white snow. The solution is simple though: just add some extra exposure using your camera's exposure-compensation feature. This feature lets you add or subtract light from the exposure, usually in 1/3 stop increments. The typical increase for snow is about 1 2/3 stops of + compensation. If the snow is very bright you might even want to give it a full +2 compensation. Experiment a bit and you'll learn which settings work best.

You might also try the auto-exposure-bracketing feature if your camera has one and have it expose for the normal, plus one stop and plus two stops of exposure. Then your camera will fire three quick frames, automatically adjusting the exposure for you. Read your manual for more on this feature.

If you live in a snowy part of the country, you might as well get some good pictures of it!

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