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Jon Hewitt

a6000 and photographing in the snow

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#1 set a custom white balance off a white card / paper / object. If you use auto white balance your camera will turn the snow grayish.

 

#2 correct exposure without blowing out highlights largely depends on you and your exposure mode settings. In snow or any other scenes where I'm shooting quickly in very bright areas and don't have time to check each shot and re-take, I shoot in RAW+JPG and and use anywhere from -0.7 to -1 EV. If you're happy with the jpg's, great. If not, you really have a lot of latitude bringing back the darker areas on RAW files in post processing.

 

#3 it may cost you 1 - 1.5 stops but a circular polarizing filter can really help reduce reflections. It's effectiveness will vary based on the location/angle of the sun on the scene.

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You are unlikely to get better pix with your 

a6000, in the conditions mentioned, than

you'd get with your phone. Use that. They 

don't call them SMART phones without a 

lotta good reasons ;-) Speaking of smart, 

the a6000 is not weather resistant. 

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Guest Jaf-Photo

Realistically, you'll have to use different methods, depending on the scene and the light. Shooting snow is not much different from normal methods for managing highlights. Use your normal techniques, which should involve selection of metering mode, exposure compensation and raw file processing.

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Guest all8

Easiest thing to do is set your white balance to "Cloudy" and Exposure compensation to + 0.3 EV.

 

Yes, in snow you need to over expose a little.

 

 

 

 

Here you see some examples : https://500px.com/tim-de/galleries/solden

 

in most of them I had to increase the exposure even further + 0.6 to + 1.0 EV. But, I did not have to adjust the white balance ... highlights seem fine to me.

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Guest Jaf-Photo

I hope you don't mind. Unwittingly, you have posted photos which show the potential pitfalls in exposure, colour management and processing. First of all you have overused clarity or some similar contrast enhancement setting. I presume this is because your original images didn't show enough details in the snow. The better way to remedy this is to adjust the levels, to spread out the peaks in the highlight area. This will increase the tonal range of the snow and show more details. Secondly, routinely overexposing the shots is not correct. You have to understand how the reflective light meter reacts to different scenes and adjust exposure compensation up or down depending on what area will be dominating the light reading. Thirdly, your colours are too warm and saturated (caused by the cloudy setting). Together with the clarity excess, this gives the images an unnatural, plastic look.

 

The best two tips I can give the OP is to use a grey card to equalise colour and an incident light meter to get an accurate light reading. Not everyone has a light meter, but the alternative is to use the grey card to meter the light, This will remove some of the reading errors caused by very bright or dark areas in the scenes. 

 

Also, I would say this. Even if you like photos with boosted colours and contrast, you should first learn to produce photos with neutral colours and contrast. With that as the base line, you can take the photo in different directions. But if you don't know what natural colours and contrast look like, anything you do to the image will be fairly random.

 

 

 

 

Easiest thing to do is set your white balance to "Cloudy" and Exposure compensation to + 0.3 EV.

 

Yes, in snow you need to over expose a little.

 

 

 

 

Here you see some examples : https://500px.com/tim-de/galleries/solden

 

in most of them I had to increase the exposure even further + 0.6 to + 1.0 EV. But, I did not have to adjust the white balance ... highlights seem fine to me.

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Guest all8

Yes, that is OK, but actually the most recent batch are pretty accurate and there is not very much PP at all, they are all stamped with the same minimal preset, listed in terms of effect on the image - Dynamic Contrast (too strong in some cases, its a very difficult, but useful effect), light sharpening, highlights/shadows/black/white points and something called Sunlight glow. Its not much .... and I certainly made no particular effort (with one exception where I actually worked hard on the image).

 

And that is the point ... is you can set WB to cloudy and Over Exposed a little and get a reasonable outcome with very little PP effort. And if you shoot Jpeg, they you don't need _any_ PP. Its a great starting point.

 

 

 

From the most recent batch, my own feeling with most images (taken with a Ricoh GR) is that the snow is being affected too much from the Dynamic Contrast setting. And in some particular cases, where there is bright colour, the color too. The easiest way to solve that is turn the effect down, the images do look better, and it fixes the problem you list. The images are better than the camera produced JPEG's.

 

I'm still learning the Dynamic Contrast effect (On1 Raw), its very intricate, basically each image has to be individually tuned.

 

 

In the one image where I did make an effort, its really good, and has even less PP - almost none - it was taken with A7ii + Batis and that combo does not need much PP. But still, the starting point was WB = Cloudy, and exposure comp +0.3 EV and that did not need adjustment in PP.

 

 

So, when a grey card and light meter are not practical ... start with WB = Cloudy and +0.3 EV.

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Guest Jaf-Photo

The images are seriously overcooked.

 

If you start using a grey card an neutral colour profiles, your eyes will adjust to a natural look. Then you'll be able to see if you go too far with the colour and contrast enhancers.

 

It's a bit like eating too much sugar. it will lose its flavour and you'll need to keep adding more go feel the taste.

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Guest all8

I don't know about over-cooked, the ski slopes are very colourful and bright.

 

Start with WB = Cloudy and +0.3 EV.

 

 

Raw left, processed right ... both sides are accurate, right more so. WB was cloudy, and exposure was +0.3EV

 

 

 

 

You can post process it how you want .... change profiles, whatever.

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Guest Jaf-Photo

The left one is not actual raw, it has some settings applied to it in the software. It's not perfect, with some colour shift, but far better than the processed version in terms of tonality. The point is if you use a grey card you start with neutral colour and then you can add whatever tinge you want. In this case you'll be adding a tinge to a tinge and that's where things get out of hand.

 

Anyway, I am very careful to give other people advise. I can't tell everyone how to do everything. But I can tell some people how to learn to do some things. You shouldn't really be giving out advice when you're not sure what you're doing yourself.

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So with a 18% grey card, is it better to use that card to set the WB in the camera before taking shots or is it better to take a few shots of the card and then use those photos of the card to determine the WB for the pictures in post processing ?

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Guest all8

Either method will work. Its also useful to take a photo of a colour chart, which has several shades of grey, white, black and all the colours. You can calibrate against that in post. IIRC there is even a plugin for LR which will do that automatically, and generate a colour profile based on the colour chart.

 

I have one (from X-Rite), its really useful, but not always the right solution since you need to have the card/chart in the same light as you subject - not always possible. The Expo-disk is then apparently the better alternative.

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Guest Jaf-Photo

You should do both. Setting the white balance off a grey card will give you a close to neutral staring point in your software. Taking a photo of the grey card will give you a means of fine calibration using the white balance tool in your software.

 

So with a 18% grey card, is it better to use that card to set the WB in the camera before taking shots or is it better to take a few shots of the card and then use those photos of the card to determine the WB for the pictures in post processing ?

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Guest Jaf-Photo

I think I was too subtle so I'll just spell it out. Your photos look awful. Stop giving advice.

 

You are right! The phones do a better job of this.

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Guest all8

I think I was too subtle so I'll just spell it out. Your photos look awful. Stop giving advice.

 

 

 

No, you were not too subtle ... but I can give advice on this and other things. I'm learning, this is a hobby for me, and its all about taking the next step. There are other people, I guess, like me, who are looking to advance ... when they have some time. I think that should be OK and it should be possible to share your own advice.

 

What is most disheartening about your comments, is that I have been striving to achieve a natural post processing, and I'm really making an effort and learning along the way. Not in every image, and certainly not in the Solden set, but I am putting really significant effort into learning how to do that better, and now relearning since I start using On1 Raw.

 

Now this image (WB=Cloudy, Exposrue +0.3 EV) I am really proud of. I don't think its terrible, but perhaps it is. The PP is not finished, I still don't exactly know how to use the On1 Raw in this situation ... and I think I will wait from some more updates to On1 Raw (Lens corections) because there is a technical problem in this image...

 

https://500px.com/photo/201627563/puitkogel-and-hohe-geige-by-tim-rule?ctx_page=1&from=user&user_id=1853157

 

If this really is a terrible image, then I should give up.

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The left one is not actual raw, it has some settings applied to it in the software. It's not perfect, with some colour shift, but far better than the processed version in terms of tonality. The point is if you use a grey card you start with neutral colour and then you can add whatever tinge you want. In this case you'll be adding a tinge to a tinge and that's where things get out of hand.

 

Yes, I know, and I had a grey card with me ... the problem is ... it was cold, windy and an area of snow prone to avalanches. I could _not_ place the grey card even if I wanted too. What can you do? I anticipated that and had a preset ready to go with WB = Cloudy and +0.3 EV, that is what I had to use. Now I work to fix that in PP, which is OK, because I know what I want from the image.

 

Perhaps you have not been in the High Alps? You don't see too many people with Grey Cards and incident light meters     :lol: There is a reason for that ... its not so easy like you think.

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The left one is not actual raw, it has some settings applied to it in the software. It's not perfect, with some colour shift, but far better than the processed version in terms of tonality.

 

 

Now what do you think of this one? I think its getting better myself, the snow colour is now nice brilliant/blinding white.

 

 

 

Again, left is Raw (as processed by On1 Raw), right is PP. The WB tool in On1 Raw is not very good ... I can only say I adjusted the balance from -4 (colder) to +10 (warmer), I would rather work in specific color temperatures, but that is how it is. The white and black points were already adjusted, the impact is minor, but I think it does increase the tonal range slightly.

 

What is difficult in this image is that the light is different in each 3 areas, particularly to the left (not in the crop), where the sun is just coming over the mountain ... so actually the snow there is quite blue ... I adjusted the Tint -10 (green direction) and its OK, perhaps a little too much, but it seems possible to adjust that without affecting the main part of the image.

 

 

What I do with this image is experiment with the PP settings, and then stamp my panorama images and build the pano in another tool (based on JPEG's). It seems to be the best workflow given what the software I have can do. Another interesting thing I've done is "oversample" on the panorama images, the rational with that is On1 Raw does not support lens corrections, so I oversample the images and essentially keep the middle part (which is typically the best part). That seems to have worked well as the natural vignetting in the images, even at f8, does not affect the panorama stitch.

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There is no actual white in natural scenes anywho ... 

  

Don't sweat it :-)    

    

OTOH, there IS a grey card everyone can use in the 

Alps ... but it's not 18% reflectance. It's close to 90% 

and you simply adjust for that. Just spot meter a few 

samples of "white" snow. Even tho using a so-called 

"reflected light" metering system, you'd be doing an 

incident reading, pragmatically speaking.   

   

As to WB, likewise sweat it not. "Cloudy day" is just 

fine. Or you can go "Olde Skoole" and set "Daylight" 

WB and then add an 81C or UV or whatever. Choice 

of an 81A/B/C or Skylight or Haze or UV37/39 was a 

personal preference thing in the film era and there's 

still personal preference allowed today ... except no 

glass filters are needed, just the WB control.   

   

----------------------------------------------------------------   

   

There's many "experts" here proffering very accurate 

technical advice. Acoarst, a few may be clueless but 

most are accurate. Many are accurate ... but few are 

reasonable. Sometimes it seems that only just ONE  

is reasonable. Same ONE all the time ;-)   

    

BTW, about the colors of white. Check out the "white" 

areas in representational paintings that were painted 

BEFORE the invention of color photography, and ask 

yourself "What did these artists SEE without any sort 

of technology prejudicing their eyes ?" 

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i`ve noticed that one of the most important things is having

a CPL filter. Everything else you can adjust there but having

cpl is a must when shooting landscapes especially in the snow.

I spoze ...... but hard to find one that fits your phone. 

Mebbe you could use your Foster Grants

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By far the biggest mistake photographers make when photographing snow ( or a white sandy beach) is to underexpose, because the light meter is guiding the exposure, telling you to make the white snow look like the neutral grey world. Thus the light meter tells you to underexpose the near white snow to achieve its happy grey world. To compensate one has to open up a couple of stops (to get back to near white). This seems a bit counter intuitive since you are opening up a couple of stops in a bright scene, but absolutely necessary to adjust for the light meter that has been faked out of its shoes. If you shoot film and do not make this compensation you end up with a thin and underexposed negative, and it is a bit more obvious why your photos suck. If you shoot digital you end up exposing to the left, and have to adjust in post. This usually renders an inferior result. Yes, I am advocating using Zone Photography even though I have read ZP can't be used with digital -- I would argue otherwise and have the website to support it -- markwilhelmphotos.com. Sometime I use a short cut and imagine the world in black and white and meter off something neutral grey -- green grass for instance. Then (shooting on manual is easier than aperture priority here) I ignore the light meter and frame my shot. If you know this is a kickass shot -- bracket. (I know, Ansel Adams said he never bracketed his exposures.) I cringe to say this, because so many "authors" will tell you to expose to the right, when they don't really understand when to do so; but this is basically what you are doing here, which again, sounds counterintuitive since you are exposing to the right with a bright scene. I shoot raw, and of course it is more forgiving than jpeg, but I can assure you that if you use ZP or the short cut I mentioned you will see better exposures, increased dynamic range, and you will be rich and famous. Well, maybe not the latter, but you will be pleased with your photos. Good luck, and keep shooting.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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