Snow shooting?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by madison_marko, Dec 19, 2017.

  1. Hello! I am going to be shooting in snowy conditions for the first time, and I am feeling slightly overwhelmed. I've been doing some research, and it seems like manually overexposing 1-2 stops is the general consensus. What do you think? I plan on mostly shooting portraits of my family. I'm shooting with a Pentax K-1000, and I have 400 Tri-X, TMax, and HP5 to choose from. Which film do you think would serve the purpose best? And does anyone have any tips for metering? Should I meter on the subject then go up a couple stops from there? Thanks! :)
  2. The choice between the film depends also on the developer you'll use - they're pretty close anyway, so I'd bring whichever one you feel like using.

    For metering, if you use a handheld meter, use incident metering when possible - no need to adjust, no complications. If you do not, consider that sun-lit snow may confuse a meter: the 1-2 stops adjustment is roughly what you need for reflective metering where a substantial part of the scene is snow - the meter will "interpret" that as 18% grey, which is obviously off.
    A relatively simple trick is to meter your hand and then add one stop, if you have a caucasian skintone. And of course, sunny 16 is also still a good starting point.
  3. Being present in the same light as your 'family', like Wouter stated, simply point the K1000 (Meter) at your hand (Simulating a 'Grey Card').
    This will avoid the Bright White Snow from fooling your camera into a reading that produces 'Gray Snow'...

    A decent hand-held meter has the ability to allow a reflected measurement (Like your K1000) OR, an Incident form of measurement (with a little milk plastic cap/cover) pointing the meter towards the camera as the meter becomes 'The Family'...

    Notice light reading differences - Incidence attachment being used and installed onto left side meter.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
  4. Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
    Gus Lazzari likes this.
  5. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    I would clarify that to point out you want snow to be a light, light gray (for B&W photos) to show the natural texture in the snow. You don't want the snow to be blinding white.

    Hmm... I'm wearing my
    sunglasses as I speak...
  6. If you have a handheld meter, just use it in incident mode, pointed back at the camera from the subject position. You'll get perfect exposures regardless of the subject reflectivity.

    Alternatively, take a reflective reading from the brightest part of the snow and open up by 2.5 stops. Or just set exposure compensation to + 1.7 to 2 stops on the camera.

    'Sunny 16' is only accurate between the tropics and in full sunlight - where, strangely enough, you don't get a lot of snow! Here at 52 degrees North 'Sunny 16' is much more the exception rather than a rule.
  7. Notwithstanding, here is Kodak's recommendation for ISO 100 film - bright and hazy snow f/16 at 1/125 sec....
    from the days when cameras were steel and photographers woody.
    Julio Fernandez, AJG and Moving On like this.
  8. The K1000 like other center weighted averaging (an even just plain averaging meters) will do better with the increase in exposure. While grey snow can be lighted up in post processing, it just looks better if it gets the correct exposure. Should you ever use a camera with autoexposure of some kind you can get the same effect with the exposure compensation control. For normal cold and snow, the K1000 is a good choice since its shutter doesn't depend on batteries which can deliver less current in the cold.
  9. Those are darling Ikophots you got there Gus. I used to have one, shoulda never sold it. I have a couple of Gossens that do an excellent job, though.

    I agree that taking an incident reading with a hand-held meter is a safe bet. But if you don't have one, and assuming your camera does have a functioning meter, you do have several options. You can meter off your hand, as was suggested, but if you have very pale skin, you're not gonna get an accurate reading. The Sunny f/16 rule works great in bright sun, and the other exposure levels, as shown in that Daylight Exposure Card, will also give you proper exposure. What I do in bright sun conditions is meter the blue sky away from the sun. It's always 18% gray. But metering the sky only works if it's clear blue. Green grass is also 18% gray, but there might not be any in your snowscape.
  10. Added later for the sake of archive:
  11. I am not familiar with taking portraits in the snow, but in earlier years spent considerable time photographing snow scenes in Alberta with a K1000. My standard was PanF, exposed at Iso 32 and developed in Rodinal 1+100 1 Hour Stand. To get exposure I Spot Metered on the brightest snow showing some texture and opened up 3 stops. This always seemed to work.

    White House Framed.jpg

    Bill Bowes and James Bryant like this.

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