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Photography Question 
Kristi Eckberg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/22/2003

Portrait Photography in the Snow

Can anyone give me some quick tips on how to take the best portraits in the snow? Should I use my grey card or take a reading from the subject's face? I have read that I need to overexpose a bit to get the snow to look white but will that overexpose the faces? Doing some photos later today!!

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12/8/2005 9:38:15 AM

David Earls   If the sky is clear, metering off sky blue usually works pretty well. If you're shooting in Raw, you'll be able to adjust yur exposure outside the camera, within limits.

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12/8/2005 1:11:03 PM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/6/2004
  I don't think that the faces would be overexposed. Overexposing doesn't just make the snow look white, it makes everything else look better as well. Your camera wants to average everything to about 18% gray. If there is a lot of white in your picture, the camera thinks it needs to make everything darker to get closer to that 18%. As a result, the people in your picture will be darker than usual.
I took a digital photography class this fall and one of our assignments was to take portraits using a black background. My teacher suggested we underexpose for the exact same reason as you would overexpose for the snow. It worked like a charm. It was easy to tell which students didn't follow the recommendation. Instead of a black background, they had a muddy gray background and the faces were washed out.
My best piece of advice is to bracket your shots in addition to shooting raw if you have the time and space on your memory card. Or, just bracket.

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12/8/2005 10:02:28 PM

Piotr M. Organa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/12/2004
  Right! Beware of 'noise' in underexposed faces. Overexpose 1 stop.

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1/3/2006 8:43:34 PM

Will Turner   Incident meters work really well for this situation.

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1/3/2006 8:53:14 PM

Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Yes, I agree fully with the incident meter being the best choice. Also, just expose off the face and add or subtract maybe a half stop depending on how light or dark the skin is. If you're not sure, then yeah, you can use your gray card. Problem is with routinely overexposing, you'll be assuming that most of the stuff in the frame is snow. If you meter only the center portion where the subject is (of a fairly neutral color), metering should be pretty simple.

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1/3/2006 9:15:09 PM

Alisha L. Ekstrom
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/30/2005
  I have a question about the whole metering thing. I shoot with a Nikon D70s & try to use my in camera meter... when shooting a subject in snow or shooting a subject indoors with a black backdrop where do I position my camera to read off of?..the face or the background? In other words to make my black really black or the snow really white?

Which metering mode is the best?

Color matrix metering
Center weighted metering
spot metering

Those are the 3 choices of metering on my camera. I'm just trying to figure out how to make my backdrops really black or white without adjusting them in photoshop.

Thanks for the help


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1/5/2006 9:32:43 PM

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