Tips For Better Snow And Ice Photography

Tips For Better Snow And Ice Photography  - Top tips for better snow and ice photography with your Samsung kit.

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Landscape and Travel


David Clapp snow

Image by David Clapp

Winter brings a new range of photo opportunities where familiar colourful scenes are suddenly covered in a blanket of snow. Bare trees become stark outlined silhouettes against a brilliant white backdrop, grasses poke out from below white canopies and old barns look like sets from pantomimes.

If you're planning to head out into the snow and ice to shoot, make sure you wrap up warm. Remember that batteries sometimes don't perform as well in cold weather, so it's worth warming them up in your pocket or in your hands before you start shooting. 

If you come out of warmth straight into the cold, you'll need to allow the camera time to acclimatise before shooting, otherwise the lens may mist up. 

The main problem with snow is that its brilliant white and highly reflective tones fool the camera's metering system. All cameras have built in metering systems that are designed to deliver a perfect picture assuming the contrast range is normal. They do this by scrambling the tones and then adjust so the scrambled colour brightness is mid grey or average. This is fine when the subject has a wide tonal range with everything from black to white being present, but when the subject is predominantly white, such as snow, the camera underexposes so that the white becomes grey. This also happens, to a lesser extent, on beach scenes where the sand is the main part of the subject.

All you need to do is override the camera's automatic setting using the exposure compensation setting on a full auto camera or by going to manual on one of the more advanced models, such as the NX1 or NX30. If you set the exposure compensation to either plus 1 and 2 stops depending on the amount of snow in the picture your results will be much better. If your camera has an exposure lock, usually set be half pressure on the shutter button, point it at a mid tone to lock the exposure before recomposing and taking the photograph.

With snow pics you should try to include some areas of detail to avoid a complete wash of white. Use a telephoto lens to crop in on branches laden with snow to create lovely abstract patterns. Similarly frost or ice on leaves can pull out nature's patterns producing detail that's almost etched. Move in close and avoid flash, which will reflect off the ice and cause hard to avoid, distracting highlights.

Also try shooting while the snow is falling, but avoid flash. The light levels will be low and an automatic camera will think flash is needed. Switch it off because the flash will reflect off the nearby flakes making the picture full of large blurry blobs that distract.

If you mount the camera on a tripod you can shoot at a low shutter speed and gain a real blizzard like effect as the falling snow is recorded as a blurred streak down the photo.

But watch the camera! Snow will quickly melt and the water could damage the electronics. Cover the camera with a clear plastic bag with a hole at the front for the lens to shoot through and wrap an elastic band around the bag on the lens barrel to hold it in place. Screw a filter on the front of the lens if you're using an SLR to protect the element from drifting snow.

View Directory Page : Samsung Cameras
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