Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Metering Snow - Winter Photography Tips and Tricks - Part 1

Metering is a very complicated subject and i am still learning the basics of it. All camera meters try to expose the subject as a medium tone/ Average exposure. In many cases that will work. Many of the objects that we deal with in real life have medium tone.

All light meters are calibrated to 18% grey or Average. What this means is that when you expose for an average subject you have a very good chance of getting the metering right. But consider a more complex situation like Snow or a Black gorilla. These are not average subjects and the light meter will be way off if it tries to meter them. If you take pitures of snow, you may notice that the snow itself appears grey and not white as u see it. This is because your camera light meter is trying to expose the snow as 18% grey and not as white.

In these situations its best to have a 18% gray card with you. Meter the gray card on the same light that falls on the snow. This is very important. Adjust your exposure to get the right settings and shoot. This will give you the correct exposure you need. Snow will start to look white again.

18% grey cards are very inexpensive and are available in most photo shops.In addition to exposure control, these grey cards also help you to maintein proper white balance in your picture. If you have pictures with tint of yellow or blue tint, then this could be a very good solution to these problems. What you need to do is take an additional photo with the grey card on the same light. And the in post processing, set the custom white balance to the grey card's color. This will correct any color deviations in your picture in one click.

Here are some highly rated ones from Amazon.

If you are serious in getting proper color and exposure in your pictures, then you should definitely invest in one of these.

Again you may not be able to carry these cards everywhere you go. Here is a good trick in those situations. This will help with correct exposure but not with white balance. Use the gray card to calibrate the palm of your hand. Once you know the difference in exposure, its easy to meter off your hand and adjust to make it 10% gray reading.

This tip will help very much during Winter when you need to capture fun moments in snow .

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