Looking back at yesterday’s post, you’ll see one of the joys of snapping photos in Alaska. Wide extremes of light, with a lot of lighter tones. Snow. We have it for nearly half the year, sometimes more than half a year.
And the colors: they’re definately muted. Lots of greys, not much in the way of intense color for 3-4 months running. Perhaps I’ll post one of those pics tomorrow.
The trade-off? Lots of low-angle light. The golden hour doesn’t last 15 minutes, like it does in warmer areas – I’ve seen it last nearly two hours at times.
So, how to avoid blowing out the highlights? Surprisingly, the sd500 does a good job of not overexposing. Unfortunately, it turns the whites to greys.
My technique: set the camera to Manual (which isn’t really manual), and push it down to ISO 50 (the slowest it goes). Alter exposure to -1/3 EV (slightly faster, slightly darker photo), which will preserve all highlights. Change metering to spot metering, and meter on one of the brighter areas (an area I care about). Don’t worry about blowing out the highlights on snow – we all know what snow is, we don’t need to see detail.
Now, the photo will come back a little muted. Using Bridge, bump up the exposure until it’s more-or-less the overall brightness desired, then tweak fill light & blacks (occasionally recovery, if you want detail in the snow) until you’re where you want to be.
Think I’m significantly altering the photo? Not really – the original is slightly less contrasty, with slightly more grey in the snow and less blue in the shadows. That’s the camera’s interpretation of a snow scene, I’m just pulling it back to the real world.