X-Rite Quick Tip: Getting Your Best Winter Photo
by Alan Winslow – March 6th, 2018
Winter can be one of the best times to get out and explore your favorite outdoor winter photo spots. Here are some quick tips to get that perfect fresh snow image!
Our camera meters are standardized for middle gray, which is great when we’re photographing most scenes. However, when we’re photographing snow, the images tend to come out muddy or gray. We recommend trying to get the best possible exposure in the camera rather than relying on post-production. A simple fix to this problem is to photograph in aperture priority or manual and overexpose. By overexposing you’re allowing more light to reach the sensor causing the snow to go pure white. Start off by adjusting your meter to *one-third over and go from there. If you prefer to photograph in Auto, most cameras have an exposure compensation control that will allow you to tell your camera to overexposure your images. Remember, that if you use exposure compensation, dial it back to neutral when you are finished photographing. This does not reset when you turn the camera on and off.
* A stop in photography is how we measure exposure. The three factors that make up our exposure include ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Typically our cameras are set up to make 1/3 stop adjustments as we rotate the dial. This small adjustment will start to push the snow to a more pure white.
Correct White Balance:
Snow can fool our cameras sensors pushing the images toward the blue spectrum. As always we recommend using an X-Rite ColorChecker Passport for proper white balance. Simply photograph the ColorChecker Passport every time the light shifts. Later I made custom camera profiles using the Lightroom Plugin for Camera Calibration software. I applied the custom profiles to my images in edit.
Here’s the workflow when shooting:
– Capture images in raw – Shooting in RAW allows you the ability to create a custom white balance prior to processing the image.
– Use any White Balance setting EXCEPT auto white balance.
– Take a well-exposed photo in each lighting condition.
Here’s a quick video to get you started making your custom camera profile.
Apply the appropriate profile to each image in that lighting condition, use the ColorChecker grey ramp to white balance after applying the profile, and sync all the images shot in that lighting.
Try to previsualize your images as you are walking around for two reasons:
1- You don’t want to footprints in your frame of freshly fallen snow.
2- Winter light changes quickly.
By having a plan, you will be able to get clean, beautiful images.
The cold drains camera batteries quickly the last thing you want is to be deep in a photographic adventure and have your batteries die. Keep spares close to your body, so they stay warm.
Before heading indoors be sure to place all your camera gear inside a bag. Condensation forming on the inside and outside of your camera can damage it, by leaving your camera to warm up in a bag you will minimize this problem.
Think in monochromatic colors:
Winter is a great time to experiment with black and white or a single dominant color image. When toning… experiment!