Snow & Overexposure

The other day I was asked to submit a gallery idea to our local paper but for some reason it didn’t fly so thought I’d post it here. It’s a simple Photographers’s Notebook type entry for people that use point and shoot cameras and like AUTO mode. Get out of AUTO mode and try this.

Avoid those wintery whiteout photos

When you first step out the door to take pictures in winter two things may happen immediately. The lens on your camera may fog up and the brightness of the snow causes you to squint your eyes. Don’t wipe the lens. You don’t want to damage it. The fog goes away after a few minutes. Your eyes need to adjust to the brightness of the snow and so does your camera. You will have to compensate for the brightness of the snow so pictures don’t become overexposed. Here’s a simple idea on how to get started.

If you have a point and shoot camera try this. First, get out of AUTO setting. Turn the mode dial to AV or aperture priority and set the ISO (similar to film speed) at 200 or 250. Once these settings are made you can now experiment with the f/stops. Start at f/8 and make several pictures at different f/stop settings from f/5.6 to f/11. It’s like squinting your eyes and then having eyes wide open. Once the ISO and AV modes are set you are ready to experiment with composition.

The key to any good picture is composition. Get close to your subject and find things that have bright or contrasting color to create interest with all the white snow.

PHOTO #1: (f/5, ISO 250)
The Hollingsworth family dog, Sasha, is laying in fresh snow in Montpelier’s Hubbard Park last February.

dog tied or resting in the snow

Husky done with the chase and cooling it in the snow.

PHOTO #2: (f/4, ISO 200)
Robert Sassaman of Calais goes sliding during lunch break in Montpelier’s Hubbard Park last winter.

sliding break from work

Sassaman takes a break from work

PHOTO #3: (f/2.8, ISO 250)
Snow and ice create a cold winter scene on barn doors found on a building near the County Road in Calais last March.

old bard doors

Old Bard Doors in Winter

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