Chinnor winter wonderland
One of the great things about photographs is being able to rekindle past memories. This morning I was reminded of how different the weather was last year. Already this morning the sun is climbing over Bledlow Ridge and melting the morning frost from the first real run of chilly weather this year.
Go back twelve months though and it was a very different scene outside. We were still clearing the last of the heavy snow. Sorting through my photos I came across these, taken in my village in the first week of January! No wonder the British talk so much about our weather when it is so changeable.
I love snow and frost scenes but they can present problems to the casual snapper. Camera phones in particular struggle to cope. They may be convenient but they lack the sophistication to cope with such scenes. Even a professional camera will get it wrong without a little help. The same problem happens on the beach with all that bright sand
The problem is cameras are really not all that clever. They assume what is in front of them is an ‘average’ scene. In most cases that means the bulk of the colours would come out around mid grey if you were to shoot in black and white. That actually works quite well with human skin and the typical landscape. Unfortunately grey snow looks less than exciting and that alas is what your camera will try to do as it thinks the image is too bright and underexposes to ‘compensate’. The same happens with sand. where you will often find the beach looks great but your friends are dark blobs
So what can you do about it? Well all is not lost. Many cameras have additional settings their owners tend to forget about and images can also sometimes be rescued later.
Look for a snow/sand setting. Many modern compacts have extra settings designed to tell the camera things are not quite what it thinks. Some have a snow or beach setting . Use this and you images will allow the extra exposure needed to produce nice crisp snow and if you are furtunate enough to be somewhere lapping up the sun ensure your beach shots are exposed correctly too
Use exposure compensation. You will have to dig into the manual for this as all cameras differ but essentially you need to set around +2 stops extra exposure. Remember to set it back after though, otherwise all you normal images will seem rather dark!
Correct it later in a program like Picasa. There is always an option to increase the brightness Really I do not recommend this though. You will lose some detail doing it this way, particularly in the shadows.