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cjmoeser
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Snow Spotting

Sun Dec 08, 2013 7:07 pm

Hi all,

Here in Boise, it's all blue skies and there is a lot of snow on the ground. What are some tips to shooting in a really bright situation like that?
 
mjgbtv
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RE: Snow Spotting

Mon Dec 09, 2013 1:10 am

I looked through my files and found surprisingly few combining snow on the ground and blue skies. One reason for that might be that the sun is not so common here in VT as in ID. Another reason, though, is that those conditions usually mean sun+cold which is a bad combination for heat haze, so maybe I have not ended up with many keepers in those conditions.

Assuming that you can avoid heat haze, though, you could just stay in aperture mode and let your shutter speed get faster, which should not do any real harm, especially with jets. You might find that you need to lower the exposure a bit as well; I did take a few shots this past week with blue skies and snow on the ground and I got the best results with the exposure lowered by 1/3 or 2/3 stop.
 
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ghajdufi
Crew
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RE: Snow Spotting

Mon Dec 09, 2013 1:07 pm

Snow is very bright on a sunny day. The super-bright scene would actually make your camera think it needs to underexpose the photo. If you leave your camera in auto your photos will come out dark with gray snow instead pure white. You need to overexpose by at least 2/3EV to get things right. Try out some different settings and see what works best for you, keep an eye on the histogram as well.
Your photos are like your children, you will always find them perfect.
 
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seahawk
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RE: Snow Spotting

Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:13 pm

Manual Exposure settings. Your best chance.
 
Psych
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RE: Snow Spotting

Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:36 pm

Gabor has it completely right - in bright conditions the snow can fool the light meter in the camera (generally set to meter for mid grey, and therefore the bright white snow will cause the camera to 'want' to underexpose to get it back to the mid grey). So if you want snow to look white (rather than a bit grey) you generally need to purposely overexpose.

This is one of those situations where RAW comes into its own (for a non-RAW user as standard), because any error made in camera can be adjusted after the event.

Cheers.

Paul
 
sovietjet
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RE: Snow Spotting

Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:48 pm

I always enjoyed snow + blue sky + sun it is probably the best combination for spotting. The sun is low, the temperature is low, and the bright snow lights up the underside of the aircraft really nice. What more could you ask for? Why would sun + cold cause heat haze?
 
hotplane
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RE: Snow Spotting

Mon Dec 09, 2013 4:55 pm

Winter sun + snow on the ground is the best possible combo. Make the best of the opportunity and shoot everything that goes past!
?
 
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Moose135
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RE: Snow Spotting

Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:32 pm

Quoting sovietjet (Reply 5):
Why would sun + cold cause heat haze?

Heat haze is generated by the difference in temperature between the surface and the air above it. Sun shining on pavement will warm it much more than the air above it. When US1549 went into the Hudson, I was out shooting the next few days from across the river in New Jersey. We were getting heat haze because the air was +16F and water was +34F.
KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
 
LH526
Crew
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RE: Snow Spotting

Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:41 pm

Go underneatht the glidepath and shoot up:


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Photo © M C E Freese
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Photo © M C E Freese

Trittst im Morgenrot daher, seh ich dich im Strahlenmeer ...
 
mjgbtv
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RE: Snow Spotting

Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:23 pm

I know you asked about blue skies, but be sure to take advantage of the snow on its way down as well:


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Photo © Marty Gleason

 
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cjmoeser
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RE: Snow Spotting

Tue Dec 10, 2013 12:22 am

Ok, thank you guys for all the tips, I'll go out there tomorrow and take a few shots! I've been shooting on Aperture Priority at about F.6.3 with a 100 ISO and exposure up around 1, is that a good setup? I have a Pentax 30 with a Sigma 70-300MM
 
powwwiii
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RE: Snow Spotting

Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:39 am

Actually, covered with snow helps eliminates heat haze, because white snow does not absorb much heat from the sun, so it does not warm up as regular ground surface does, so there is less heat haze if the ground is covered up by snow.
 
mjgbtv
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RE: Snow Spotting

Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:19 am

Quoting CJMoeser (Reply 10):
I've been shooting on Aperture Priority at about F.6.3 with a 100 ISO and exposure up around 1, is that a good setup?

That looks like a reasonable place to start, although you could probably try a somewhat narrower aperture, like f/8, and still have a good shutter speed. I would bracket some shots and also check the histogram as suggested so you can adjust the exposure as needed.
 
len90
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RE: Snow Spotting

Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:24 am

I was lucky enough to have a free afternoon to get over to KPHL for some spotting with snow on the ground. I was shooting f7.1 ISO125 with no exposure correction (was checking histograms). The snow on the ground really created a nice lighting effect and I ended up shooting every single plane that came through. Normally I would get bored of shooting US Airways Express E170s, but not today.

If you ever have a chance to get outside and photograph planes with a blue sky and snow on the ground, DO IT!!!

Just make sure you dress warm  
Len90

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