snow problem

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Leon

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it looks there might be some significant snowfall in my area early next week. This is quite rare for where I live so I am a bit flummoxed about metering/ filters etc for black and white to make the negative snow tones sparkle.

any tips?
 

Ole

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"Sparkle" is difficult - especially with fresh snow. Old snow in sunlight sparkles, ne snow in overcast doesn't.

The main thing is to avoid overexposing the snow, while keeping detail in the shadows. I suggest using a relatively long-scale film which can take just about anything - "traditional grain" or chromogenic. In my experience the Delta or T-grain films just cannot handle the contrast range.
 
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Here's the issue. If you use a built-in meter, your camera is going to try to read the entire scene as 18% gray so you get washed out whites.

There are three solutions:

Get an incident meter and hold it pointing towards the lens axis and take a reading. That will render everything in the proper place provided the light where you are doing this is the same as falling on the scene you are taking a picture of.

The other solution is to recognize that the camera's meter is doing that and open up between 2 stop and bracket around that

The last solution is to meter off a grey card. Put it down in the snow, fill the frame with they gray card and then meter. Hold the meter so its not changed, look up and recompose. Take the photo and you are set.
 

juan

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Use a yellow filter - K2 by the old Kodak numbering system (my filters are even older than me) - I think that's a #8 in the more modern numbering method.
juan
 

Dave Miller

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It seems to me that it is the opposite of dealing with deep shadows. So metering off the snow, and closing down two stops ought to get you into the right area.

I'm assuming that you plan to use monochrome, colour stock is more demanding of acurate exposure, as I'm sure you know.
 
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Leon

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thanks everyone.

Jeffrey - I use a spot meter and manual cameras but yours is fine advice none the less.

Juan - I'm curious to know what effect the yellow filter has on the snow?
 

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Over the last 4 months or so, I have shot maybe 20 rolls of 120 and 35mm, all in snowy conditions. It's a condition of living where I do!!! :D

The simplest solution is to use an incident meter. If you haven't got a hand-held meter, use sunny-16. If you only have a built-in reflective meter, compensate at least one stop, if not two, depending upon how dark your subject is. I've used both Delta-400 and FP4+ with great success in snowy conditions.

Basically, don't trust reflective readings and you should be OK.

Hope this helps,
Kent
 

Timothy

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Hi Leon,

We have had L O T S of opportunity to "work with snow" around here. The yellow filter is a very good idea because most of the light being reflected is from the blue end so using the yellow filter is about the only way to get some texture in the snow.

Tim R
 
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Leon said:
thanks everyone.

Jeffrey - I use a spot meter and manual cameras but yours is fine advice none the less.

Juan - I'm curious to know what effect the yellow filter has on the snow?

So, just find a 18% gray object and spot meter that. The bark of trees can work. Even the green in trees maps to grey for most trees. Sometimes you can even use a blue sky with the right shade.

With a spot meter, I think its easier--just find something that is gray and meter it. Take a few meters of different grays and then average them. Works the same as the other three methods.

Or, I just realized, bring a small gray card, put it in the same light as the subject and spot meter off that!
 
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Ole

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Dave Miller said:
It seems to me that it is the opposite of dealing with deep shadows. So metering off the snow, and closing down two stops ought to get you into the right area.

Open up two stops, not close down! :D
 

Donald Miller

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If you want snow to sparkle then you need to increase local contrast. The yellow filter that Juan mentions does that by affecting the blue sky reflections that all sunlit snow contains.

Another means of increasing local contrast would be to meter and open the lens one stop (after adjusting for filter factors) which would place the snow values on Zone VI and then giving the film plus one or one and one half development. Since increased development is more affective of the higher film densities (snow) the local contrast is increased.
 

rogueish

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You can also meter off the back of your hand if nothing else is available. Also off a friend's gray coat, cement walls, old pavement (new pavement is still black), off a gray dog once, and trees (as already mentioned) are good too.
 

Lee L

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I always carry the palm of my left hand with me. I know from comparing to a gray card that it's 1 stop brighter than medium gray. So in difficult lighting, I put the palm of my hand in the same light as the subject and then open up 1 stop from the recommended exposure. I'd bracket in half-stops over what seemed an appropriate range if the lighting were very contrasty.

Here's the Ansel Adams rundown on snow:

Shadows on snow in sunlit landscapes Zone VI - open up 1 stop
Average snow with acute side lighting Zone VII - open up 2 stops
Textured snow Zone VIII - open up 3 stops
Snow in flat sunlight Zone IX - open up 4 stops

These all assume that you're spot metering off the snow itself under the given conditions.

See my gallery for a woodpile in the snow. I metered with the camera's spot meter and opened up 2 1/2 stops from the sunlit snow reading. Reflected light from the snow was filling in the shadows, so the contrast range wasn't that excessive. Donald's advice is good for flatter lighting than I had.

Hope this helps.

Lee
 

dr bob

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I have observed that many photographers (including your's truly)make the mistake of thinking that snow is white. It really isn't, especially in shadow. Sunlit scenes will have so much contrast you will probably have to consider reducing it during development. I made the mistake of thinking a Wratten 11 or 15 would bring out the "sparkles" in a local scene - wrong! The result was completely dark shadows without any detail (TX400). I rephotographed with a Wratten 47 (blue) and the shadows popped out perfectly. This seems to fly in the face of general logic until one considers that the shadows in a sunlit scene are illuminated by blue light.

Several posts have advised the use of incident metering which is good. I use the palm-of-the-hand method when using a spot meter in such situations but mostly just guess based on "sunny-16". Contrast can be modified, slightly, through development but keep good records. (How many images in the galleries have "unknown, unrecorded, et c. given as the exposure specs?)
 

Donald Miller

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dr bob said:
I made the mistake of thinking a Wratten 11 or 15 would bring out the "sparkles" in a local scene - wrong! The result was completely dark shadows without any detail (TX400). I rephotographed with a Wratten 47 (blue) and the shadows popped out perfectly. This seems to fly in the face of general logic until one considers that the shadows in a sunlit scene are illuminated by blue light.

QUOTE]

Dr. Bob it seems to me that your stated experience verifies that shadows are illuminated with blue light. Yellow filtration would be minus blue and that would account for the deepening of shadow values that you noted. The 47 blue filter is plus blue and would account for the lightening of shadow values that you indicated.

This blue filter would have the effect of lowering local contrast within the snow itself since local contrast within the snow itself would contain small shadow areas that are lit by the same blue light that you noted in the shadows.

While a full scale scene may have shadow and snow both included, the actual scene would need to be evaluated to determine the exposure and development considerations. However for local contrast in the snow itself yellow filtration and expanded development would enhance local contrast.
 

Les McLean

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Leon, I meter from the snow and open up two stops as has been suggested and it works for me. One point that has not been mentioned is to use side lighting or back lighting to provide the shadows that gives the texture that makes large areas of white look like snow in a black and white print.
 

rbarker

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Mmmmm, Zone III snow. That would be different. :cool:

I agree - if metering the snow itself, open up, not close down the aperture to push the snow value up the scale. But, I sometimes confuse that myself.

Assuming a sun angle sufficient to create some texture, Leon, the highlights in the snow will be full spectrum, but the micro shadows will be heavily blue. Thus, the yellow filter accentuates that by darkening the blue shadows, as it does with blue sky. Even heavier filtration can work, depending on what else is in the scene.
 

Tom Stanworth

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Leon, you use of a staining dev like pyrocat (which I know you use) will help enormously if you get hot scintilations or whatever they are called. From experience in full sun in Spain and South Africa on small rocks, logs etc these devs really help to hold things within an easily printable (or burnable) range. You will have good margin for error with local overexposure etc with these devs, which you will be thankful for if you get shaded wnow and sunlit etc. Personally I dont just meter one area, I would meter a few areas of snow therefore getting a fuller idea of the range to be meshed with the neg, but I am sure you would do this anyway. You'll have no problems.

Tom
 
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Leon

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thanks everyone ... I guess I was most interested in effective filter choices - looks like yellow is the way to go. It's always good to get some thoughts on others metering methods too.
 

ElrodCod

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Dave Miller said:
It seems to me that it is the opposite of dealing with deep shadows. So metering off the snow, and closing down two stops ought to get you into the right area.

I'm assuming that you plan to use monochrome, colour stock is more demanding of acurate exposure, as I'm sure you know.

Closing down two stops will put the snow around zone III. You should open up three stops for zone VIII snow.
 
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Leon

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ElrodCod said:
Closing down two stops will put the snow around zone III. You should open up three stops for zone VIII snow.


poor old Dave - makes one very easy to make mistake and he gets pounced on from all angles. Perhaps people should read the threads before responding ??? :wink:
 

ElrodCod

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Leon said:
poor old Dave - makes one very easy to make mistake and he gets pounced on from all angles. Perhaps people should read the threads before responding ??? :wink:

Not near as much fun as pouncing!
 
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Leon

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ok - i admit, pouncing is fun :smile:
 
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