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Need help with 'blown out' snow pictures (3 images)
It's pretty snowy here in Northeast Ohio recently, so I need help with taking pictures that don't overexpose the snow. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me. Here are three sample pictures:#1 They were searching for something edible. 1//..

Comments (28)

I don't have an answer to your question but I want to congratulate you for your awesome shots of the deer, especially that last one. How did you do it?..

Comment #1

Carolyn,.

It might help if you could tell us what camera you are using..

MaddogOlympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #2

AndyfromVA wrote:.

I don't have an answer to your question but I want to congratulateyou for your awesome shots of the deer, especially that last one.How did you do it?.

Thank you very much for the compliment. If you are asking how I got so close to the deer, that is probably the easiest part of taking these pictures. We walk regularly in a park near home that has a large herd of deer. Lots of people walk the trails, many with their dogs. The deer are so accustomed to people that they will walk up quite close to them. I was within a few feet of these deer.

It was pretty cold today...around 20 degrees Fahrenheit..

Carolyn in NE Ohio.

My photo galleries can be seen at http://lingenfelter.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #3

Maddogmd11 wrote:.

Carolyn,.

It might help if you could tell us what camera you are using..

You're right. I thought of that after I posted. It's a panasonic FZ 30...

Comment #4

The scene situation is that the snow is very white and bright far more than the trees or deer. the mens that you have a greater dynamic rsange than the sensor can handle..

This gives you 2 choices..

1. decide what is you primary subject in the scene and meter and shoot THAT. this means that you would accept whatever exposure you get on the other items in the scene. the primary subject in your scenes would have to be the deer OR the trees. NOT BOTH. this what your shots are trying to do..

1a. meter for the snow only and accept what you get as an exposure with the deer. normally the snow would get an exposure compensation of a positive 1 stop(to let more mlight in. this is done to make the snow white and not garyish). this by implication would also help illuminate the deer by making them appear brighter..

2. you somehow equalize the exposure by reducing the dynamic range to something the camera can handle. the simplest way is to use flash to light up the deer. this would make them appear brighter to camera meter, and the deer brightness and snow brightness would be closer together and would be covered by the dynamic range of the sensor. one tool to do this with flash is to get a Better Beamer attachment for your flash. the BB extends the flash range to a much further distance...

Comment #5

I don't have any experience with this camera. You might get faster, and more informed results posting it on the Panasonic forum. Sorry I can't help. Loved the shots though!!.

MaddogOlympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #6

Your FZ-30 has manual controls so all you need to do is set your exposure compensation between -1 and -2EV. You could also shoot RAW to perhaps get a little more detail in the snow or if you compensate, detail in the shadows..

You could also try a different metering setting..

Cheers..

Comment #7

Like it or not, snow is going to burn out in an otherwise correctly exposed shot unless you go to exceptional lengths with controlling the exposure. You can shoot RAW (if your camera supports it) for maximum dynamic range, adjusting the exposure so that the snow slightly underexposes, then adjust the response curve in Photoshop..

The usual problem isn't overexposing snow, it is underexposing because all that glare fools the camera into choosing a lower exposure. This would be corrected with a *positive* exposure compensation - enough to brighten the snow but trying not to burn it out..

Your shots don't really suffer from either problem though, because it's not sunny (so you don't have the worst extremes of contrast) and there is enough midtone for the camera to make a pretty good stab at a correct exposure. You won't do much better than that without a DSLR and some careful post-processing...

Comment #8

For your suggestions. I had been (more or less) following the first approach, using center-weighted metering. I will experiment with the other metering systems, and also try your suggestions to meter for the snow and experiment with the flash. Thanks for taking the time to help..

Carolyn in NE Ohio.

My photo galleries can be seen at http://lingenfelter.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #9

Maddogmd11 wrote:.

I don't have any experience with this camera. You might get faster,and more informed results posting it on the Panasonic forum. Sorry Ican't help. Loved the shots though!!.

Thanks, maddog. It would probably be a good idea for me to experiment a little more and then post my results on the panny forum with a request for help. I appreciate your feedback..

Carolyn in ME Ohio..

Comment #10

Rocklobster wrote:.

Your FZ-30 has manual controls so all you need to do is set yourexposure compensation between -1 and -2EV. You could also shoot RAWto perhaps get a little more detail in the snow or if you compensate,detail in the shadows..

If I remember correctly, I didn't use any EV compensation...had it set to 0. I will give it a try at -1 and -2 or so. Thanks for your suggestion..

Carolyn in NE Ohio.

My photo galleries can be seen at http://lingenfelter.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #11

Steve Balcombe wrote:.

Like it or not, snow is going to burn out in an otherwise correctlyexposed shot unless you go to exceptional lengths with controllingthe exposure. You can shoot RAW (if your camera supports it) formaximum dynamic range, adjusting the exposure so that the snowslightly underexposes, then adjust the response curve in Photoshop..

I've never tried shooting RAW...not even sure my camera does support it. And I have a lot to learn about photoshop. However, I am contemplating a step into DSLR land. Then I will be sure to give RAW a try...especially in situations like this where the dynamic range is so great..

The usual problem isn't overexposing snow, it is underexposingbecause all that glare fools the camera into choosing a lowerexposure. This would be corrected with a *positive* exposurecompensation - enough to brighten the snow but trying not to burn itout..

If I understand correctly, you are suggesting that I set my EV compensation at +1 or +2. I can certainly give that a try..

Your shots don't really suffer from either problem though, becauseit's not sunny (so you don't have the worst extremes of contrast) andthere is enough midtone for the camera to make a pretty good stab ata correct exposure. You won't do much better than that without a DSLRand some careful post-processing..

Well, I'm looking at the Nikon D40 and I'm open to learning more about PP. Maybe that will be my most satisfying solution. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my question..

Carolyn in NE Ohio.

My photo galleries can be seen at http://lingenfelter.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #12

Let's try again..

First some theory..

When your meter points at a subject, it reads the light being reflected back into the camera, and determines the exposure. Meters work based on being pointed at mid-toned subject, and set the camera so that mid-toned subjects turn into mid-range exposures..

Point it at a person in a mid-grey sweater, for instance, and the sweater will look good, brighter things a pink scarf will be lighter, and darker things a black hat will look dark. ALL AS ONG AS the meter was pointed at a mid-tooned subject..

But in two of your pictures, the first and third, most of the subject area is pretty dark dark bark with cloudy light on it, and pretty dark-furred deer..

So, in these shots, the meter looks at the on-the-dark-side main subjects, "thinks" (as meters all do, that these are mid-toned subjects, and sets the exposure a bit brighter (longer shutter speed, wider aperture) to properly expose the main subjects trees and deer..

For the middle of your shots, the snow really is pretty good. That's because the meter sees the snow, which is on the brighter side, and the trees, which are on the dark side, and compromises..

IF YOU WERE OUT OF THE WOODS so the deer were a bit farther away and most of the picture was just snow in a field, the snow would have turned out grey. That's because the meter would have seen the snow, figured it was mid-toned, and set the exposure so it turned out the way the mieter thought in error it should look. And a deer in this field would have been extra-dark, too..

Now, add into this theory some of the earlier comments about dynamic range. Getting the white snow and the dark deer and bark is a challenge for your camera..

So, what to do?.

If it was me, I'd turn my camera onto Manual, and take a meter reading off a medium grey glove, medium grey tree, or even my hand, with the glove taken off..

This would have set the camera at an exposure that yields a picture a little darker than your first and third shots, and the snow would not have been blown out. The downside to this is that the deer and trees would have been even darker..

Which, in fact, is the way the scene really was, to the extent that you can ever accurately say "really was.".

The human eye have an aperture like in a camera lens. Next time you see a deer in a clearing filled with snow, try this. Look at the scene, paying attention to how dark the deer looks to you. It'll be pretty dark. Then make a little tunnel with your hand and fingers, and look through the tunnels with your fingers squeezed so all you see is the deer. It will look lighter and brighter.



If it's cold, you can do the same thing indoors looking at, say, a vase of flowers in front of a white wall..

What about using exposure compensation instead of manual aperture and shutter speed, you ask?.

With manual exposure based on, say, the mid-blue mittens or even your hand (hands vary by heritage and tan-qoitient, of course) the exposure will stay the same regardles of how much deer and bark in the shot and how much snow..

With exposure compensation and auto exposure, the auto exposure will vary depending on how much light snow and dark deer in the shot as you zoom, with the exposure comp changings similarly..

ALMOST FINALLY it realy is hard to take good shots in lousy cloudy weather, so that's a bit of a problem, too..

Depending on your camera, lowering the contrast settings and boosting the saturation can make the shots better, and perhaps pull some detail into the snow..

FINALLY As already mentioned, under some conditions you pays youyr money and takes your choice darker snow makes the deer too dark, so live with the brighter snow and have the deer bright, too..

BAK..

Comment #13

Carolyn in NE Ohio wrote:.

Steve Balcombe wrote:.

The usual problem isn't overexposing snow, it is underexposingbecause all that glare fools the camera into choosing a lowerexposure. This would be corrected with a *positive* exposurecompensation - enough to brighten the snow but trying not to burn itout..

If I understand correctly, you are suggesting that I set my EVcompensation at +1 or +2. I can certainly give that a try..

What I'm saying is *if* you have the very common problem of underexposure making the snow look grey, then positive exposure compensation is needed. But your pictures don't exhibit that problem. The reason they don't is that there is a lot in those pictures (especially the first and third) which isn't just white snow, so the camera doesn't need the 'hint' of exposure compensation to get it right..

Your question was about *over*exposed snow, which is completely different - that was what I was suggesting RAW for. It involves a slightly more advanced technique of taking a deliberately underexposed image to 'protect the highlights' then adjusting that on the PC..

But I'll say once again - your pictures are actually pretty good. If you are starting to find the imperfections frustrating, then yes, it is time to start looking at DSLRs. A warning letter to the bank manager might be a good idea.....

Comment #14

Bak, I am trying understand proper metering as well and would appreciate any help you can offer..

I assume when in manual you take a spot meter reading of your hand, grey glove, or tree. Once you have this reading you can then set your shutter speed and aperture depending on the subject an effect you want and it would stay at these settings as long the scene and light does not change - Am I on the right path here?.

Would you then leave the level in the middle of the scale or would you over expose by a stop or 2 for the snow?..

Comment #15

Maddogmd11 wrote:.

Carolyn,.

It might help if you could tell us what camera you are using..

Maddog.

Hey, Maddog, she left the EXIF data in her pix. Just look at it?.

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #16

I assume when in manual you take a spot meter reading of your hand,grey glove, or tree. Once you have this reading you can then setyour shutter speed and aperture depending on the subject an effectyou want and it would stay at these settings as long the scene andlight does not change - Am I on the right path here?.

Yes, exactly..

Would you then leave the level in the middle of the scale or wouldyou over expose by a stop or 2 for the snow?.

No, leave the exposure as you measured it off a reasonably middling subject (hand, tree etc.). That will give a correct exposure for an 'average' brightness subject (like a deer, for example). Ignore what the camera says. It will be trying to tell you that you are over-exposing the picture because it will seeing the snow and thinking that the scene is, overall, too bright. But you don't care about the snow, you care about the deer..

You only need the +1 or +2 stop exposure compensation if you are using an auto mode and letting the camera make a (wrong) decision which needs correcting..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #17

Hey thanks Mike. I live in Northern Canada so figuring out snow exposures is important to me. Now if they could only make the dials bigger so my mitts could turn it...

Comment #18

...you've given me a lot to think about here. When I'm out in the snow again (it's still falling), I will take the opportunity to try out the techniques that you and others here have shared. I have been reading the panasonic forum for quite awhile and occasionally posted there, but just recently ventured into this forum. It's a very helpful place. Thanks again. I will try to post a few more snow pictures soon..

Carolyn in NE Ohio.

My photo galleries can be seen at http://lingenfelter.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #19

Steve Balcombe wrote:.

What I'm saying is *if* you have the very common problem ofunderexposure making the snow look grey, then positive exposurecompensation is needed. But your pictures don't exhibit that problem.The reason they don't is that there is a lot in those pictures(especially the first and third) which isn't just white snow, so thecamera doesn't need the 'hint' of exposure compensation to get itright..

Your question was about *over*exposed snow, which is completelydifferent - that was what I was suggesting RAW for. It involves aslightly more advanced technique of taking a deliberatelyunderexposed image to 'protect the highlights' then adjusting that onthe PC..

Whew! (sign of relief) it makes much more sense to me now. Thanks!.

But I'll say once again - your pictures are actually pretty good. Ifyou are starting to find the imperfections frustrating, then yes, itis time to start looking at DSLRs. A warning letter to the bankmanager might be a good idea....

Thanks...and thanks for the warning. I'll keep it in mind, but still think seriously about the nikon D40..

Carolyn in NE Ohio.

My photo galleries can be seen at http://lingenfelter.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #20

Mike703 wrote:.

I assume when in manual you take a spot meter reading of your hand,grey glove, or tree. Once you have this reading you can then setyour shutter speed and aperture depending on the subject an effectyou want and it would stay at these settings as long the scene andlight does not change - Am I on the right path here?.

Yes, exactly..

Would you then leave the level in the middle of the scale or wouldyou over expose by a stop or 2 for the snow?.

No, leave the exposure as you measured it off a reasonably middlingsubject (hand, tree etc.). That will give a correct exposure for an'average' brightness subject (like a deer, for example). Ignore whatthe camera says. It will be trying to tell you that you areover-exposing the picture because it will seeing the snow andthinking that the scene is, overall, too bright. But you don't careabout the snow, you care about the deer..

You only need the +1 or +2 stop exposure compensation if you areusing an auto mode and letting the camera make a (wrong) decisionwhich needs correcting..

Best wishesMike.

This is a very helpful clarification. Thanks..

Carolyn in NE Ohio.

My photo galleries can be seen at http://lingenfelter.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #21

Bumperkleebaum wrote:.

Hey thanks Mike. I live in Northern Canada so figuring out snowexposures is important to me. Now if they could only make the dialsbigger so my mitts could turn it..

It doesn't help that my fingers inside the mittens are almost frozen stiff! Taking pictures outside in this way below freezing weather is extra challenging. But that all aside, everyone here has been very helpful, and I appreciate it..

Carolyn in NE Ohio.

My photo galleries can be seen at http://lingenfelter.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #22

Mike703 wrote:.

... you don't careabout the snow, you care about the deer..

This is an important point which I didn't make clear in my post. It is *much* more important to expose the deer correctly..

If on the other hand you were taking a shot of a wide, snow-covered landscape with deer in the middle distance, it might be more important to get a perfect exposure for the snow to avoid it being either dull grey or featureless white...

Comment #23

Take a light meter reading off the palm of your hand at a arms distance then keep that setting when you recompose your picture. this will give the camera the average gray it looks for and gives you perfect snow. but it does take some practice...

Comment #24

It seems to me your exposure is pretty good. I would really suggest experimenting with RAW. It was mentioned earlier that you camera supports it. Doing this may give you enough dynamic range to pull some detail out of the snow. Since your camera supports RAW, it would be worth exploring..

What has been said is true - you generally want to use more exposure than the camera suggests for scenes that are predominantly snow. These pictures don't quite fit that. If your camera has a 'scenes' function for snow you may try that. I believe this preset increases exposure and uses a warmer white balance so the snow doesn't come out looking blue.WayneCan0n G-nine 0ly C-21oo/C-4ooo/..

Comment #25

RE>Am I on the right path here? <.

Yes, and Mike's answer is fine..

BAK..

Comment #26

BAK wrote:.

RE>Am I on the right path here?.

Yes, and Mike's answer is fine..

I have found all your answers to be more than fine...they've been very helpful. I have just started a new thread with pictures taken using some of your suggestions. I hope they show that I am learning something from all of you. Thanks you so much for the help..

Carolyn in NE Ohio.

My photo galleries can be seen at http://lingenfelter.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #27

Hi Carolyn,.

You have hit on a problem that most people would think could be solved by an exposure adjustment. to a certain extent, it can be minimized by exposure adjustment, but the deer would become darker (and they look about right to me)..

What you actually are demonstrating is the upper limits of the sensor. The snow is so much more reflective than the deer, that they are outside the sensors dynamic recording range. therefore, it "blows out.".

The histogram undoubtedly looks right heavy..

There is an old adage in digital, 3-4 weeks old at least (if anything is digital is old): Expose for the highlights and develop for the shadows..

The solution, as best as it can be managed with your camera and software, is to use a smaller f/number (-1 exposure approximately or more) until the whites values in the histogram do not bump up against the right edge (but they should be very close to it)..

Now the deer look much darker..

Then in software, raise the shadow (or the deers' coasts) value to taste. This is limited by the software and the total detail and the file format, but it will work even with 8 bit jepgs to a fair extent..

I hope this helps.Van..

Comment #28

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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