As inconvenient as the recent snowfall may have been many of us seem to like taking photographs of it so I thought I would post something that may help if your photos are not turning out quite as you would like them to.
If you ever taken any photos of snow you may have found that the resulting image is often far darker than you hoped it would be. How can this possibly be when the scene is so bright? This is mainly because of the light metering system in your camera.
Basically, as clever as light metering systems have got over the years, they have to make certain assumptions. One of these assumptions is the distribution of tones within any scene you may be taking a photo of. This is generally based around a mid tone (18%) gray.
A snow scene has a distribution of tones which is distorted from the average enormously by everything being covered in a temporary layer of white which the metering algorithms can't cope with (except in some top end cameras). This results in the camera exposing for a much darker scene and so brightest parts of your image i.e. the snow are underexposed.
The solution to this problem seems to be the opposite of what most people expect and you need to overexpose to get the snow bright white. If your camera has an exposure compensation function try setting it at +1.0 for starters. You will need to experiment with this setting depending on the percentage of the scene the snow covers but it is a good starting point.
I hope that helps some of you out there and please do let me know how you get on.
Member since: 10th February 2010
Chris Martin is an award winning photographer based in Southampton (formerly based in Guildford) and is the 2009 Master Photographers Association Events Photographer of the Year.