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Snow pictures

edited December 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
Hi! I'm somewhat new to the DSLR scene. I live in Colorado and have been trying to take cool pictures, but have been unsuccessful. My brother just got engaged and they want me to take some pictures to use for their save the dates and what not. I will be taking the picture outside in the snow (we just got about a foot of snow). The mountains will be in the background. I'm not 100% sure what settings to use to make the picture look good. Any chance anyone could help me out? It's somewhat cloudy today with some chances of blue sky and sunshine. Thank you very much! Cheers


  • edited January 2016
    The general rule for snow pictures is that you need to meter for the subject rather than the snow. When there is a lot of white in the picture, the camera's meter will try to make it gray (actually more like blue-gray), and in so doing will underexpose and leave the people as silhouettes. For people and animals against snow, your best bet is probably to spot meter on a face. For general exposure in snow (beaches too) your best bet is to exposure compensate, something around 2 stops +. It's a good idea to do some bracketing to get it just right. If that's not practical, shoot Raw files and exposure compensate in post. Don't compensate if you spot meter a face, or the face will be overexposed. Put the meter in matrix mode for general, compensated snow shots.

    If the sun is bright overhead, you might do better with fill flash, so as to avoid the shadows on the face that give people raccoon eyes.

    Try Aperture priority, spot metering on a face. The snow will blow out but the people should be well exposed. If people come out with shadowed faces, keep the exposure the same and pop the flash up. If you can, do some experimenting before the critical time, to see what exact changes need to be made.

    If you want the mountains and such to be sharp, use a small aperture (say, f/11 or so ). If you want the mountains more abstract and blurry, shoot wide open.

    Dynamic range in snow will be difficult, and chances are that when people are well exposed, the snow will be overexposed. You can get a little closer if you find a good balance of flash and exposure, and you might be able to get a little closer if you compensate less and then open up shadows in post processing (View NX2 does this pretty well), but it will be chancy. If you have time, try different levels of compensation to bracket your exposures. Unfortunately the D3200 does not offer bracketing as an automatic feature, but you can still do it.
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