Any beginning photographer wielding a camera in snow gets pretty surprised when they see his or her first results: All that fluffy white stuff, more often than not, turns gray in the picture.
The solution? Do not to trust your in-camera meter when shooting snow scenes.
In winter settings dominated by white, your camera’s meter tries to make the snow gray. This results in “dirty snow” and “bad exposure.” If you’re shooting digital, you’ve made “extra work” for yourself; if slide film, you’ve created “lots of trash.” Basically, the snow in your photos is dull and dark, the shadows have lost all detail, and your mid-tones are muddy.
Here are two options for saving yourself from a drift of deficiently exposed snow scenes:
- Spot-meter on an area of bright white snow, then open up 1.5 to 2 stops under sunny conditions, .5 to 1 stop under cloudy skies. This should give you an accurate exposure.
- If you don’t have a spot meter, use your camera’s matrix meter to attain an exposure estimate, then open up one stop and bracket for three frames (a half-stop in either direction).
If you’re shooting digital, check your histogram. You’ll want it to read high on the right (indicating that there’s a lot of white in the frame) without being clipped too much (use the highlight-warning feature, if your camera has it).
This technique is applicable in warm weather, as well — when shooting at the beach on a sunny day, that bright sand will fool your meter just the same the snow did.
Nature Photography for Beginners
Nature photography is an exciting and very rewarding pastime. It seems only natural that when you see something exciting or interesting in the natural world, you want to capture it or record it in some way. Cameras are a great way to do just that!
I will focus here on digital cameras, since currently a majority of photographers (especially beginners) start with digital cameras – though many of the ideas and techniques mentioned are transferable to film cameras as well.
So, let’s look at some things you can do to practice nature photography for beginners…
What Do You Want to Capture?
So you want to try your hand at nature photography? Even before you purchase a new camera or start using one, ask yourself what is it that you want to capture? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
As much as we would like to hope that the quality of food writing on the internet is increasingly improving in range and depth, food blogging continues to be a highly visual medium, and the words that are typed beneath images are often there just to describe a dish or ingredient. Click into any of the leading food blogs (most of them, let’s face it, created in the U.S.) and you will see the same, beautiful (albeit saccharine-sweet and repetitive) style of collage photography throughout: shiny, white light through a flower; gingham plastic cutlery; fruit scattered on a white tray; small child stroking a chicken; pea shoots in a polka dot bowl etc, etc.
Whilst not wishing in any way to enter the foray that is this very competitive, high maintenance level of food blogging, I thought it instructive to spend a day with a professional food photographer to learn the basics of the craft of creating simple, appetising photography to share on social media and my blogs, and to find out more about where the future of digital food photography is going. I was also particularly interested in understanding the functionality of my camera, a Canon EOS 60D, by demonstration, as instruction manuals are often far too dry and technical.
So I turned to Rob Wicks, the founder of Eatpictures, who, after graduating from Liverpool University with a degree in physics, worked as a film and video maker for the BBC for 17 years before setting up his Bristol based business, Eatpictures. Rob specialises in creating food photographs and videos for PR agencies, magazines, websites, restaurants, cookery schools and food producers.
He sent me a very helpful list of hints and tips which you can see here and in addition, by spending a day with me at my house, he showed me how to get the very best out of my camera using only natural light, a new attitude and a few changes to my camera settings. Here is a summary of just ten of the things I learned. (more…)
Photography is both an art and a science. Photography allows us to express our feeling and emotions, but to do so we need to master the scientific part of the medium. Unlike a painter, who is in direct contact with his subject and his canvas, a photographer is separated from his subject by the camera and from his “canvas” by computers and printers today and by darkroom equipment previously.
The scientific aspects of photography can be both overwhelming and fascinating, so much so that for some photographers photography comes to be just that: a scientific process that they attempt to master over their lifetime. However, to achieve mastery of the technical side of photography is to address only one of the two aspects of photography. The result is often technically excellent photographs that lack emotion and “seeing” qualities. In this regard, I share the opinion of Ansel Adams who said, and I paraphrase, that there is nothing more boring that a technically perfect rendering of a fuzzy visual concept. In other words, an artistic photograph is created when technique is used to express a vision and an emotion, not when technique is used for it’s own sake.
Countless articles are written daily about the many scientific aspects of photography. From equipment reviews, to image processing techniques, to tips on how to be a more efficient photographer, to stories about what works and what doesn’t, there is no shortage of material on the subject. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I have contributed my share of articles on this subject and I will continue to do so. Again, the scientific aspect of photography is very important and learning as much as you can about it is certainly worth your time and efforts.