There’s no denying that snowscapes present some wonderful photo opportunities. They also present us with some issues – specifically exposure. If you allow your camera to control exposure in the snow the chances are you’ll end up with some distinctly underexposed pictures. There’s also a good chances you’ll see a distinct blue cast. This is because snowscapes aren’t average scenes, and when a camera calculates exposure, it’s expecting an average scene. It’s expecting the distribution of light and dark and the balance of colours to be somewhere around grey. In a snow scene however, the average is pretty much white. So the camera needs to be told. The simplest way to do this is to bump up the EV (Exposure Value), which either slows the shutter speed or increases the lens aperture.
The picture above was taken with exposure set to Program mode, which calculated an exposure at 200ASA of 1/250th at f8. You can see from the image that the snow is less than white. Compare this with the photo below.
In this photo an Exposure Value of +1 was dialled in, resulting in both a larger aperture and slower shutter speed, 1/160th at f6.3. The difference is quite pronounced and gives us a truer representation of the scene.
Almost all modern digital cameras from dSLRs to compacts allow you influence the exposure using EV. Many use a dedicated button on the back of the camera, usually signified by a +/- symbol. You can use this creatively for any number of not-so-average scenes, from snowscapes to shooting into the sun. So if you find that using the cameras n=built in metering gives photos that are to dull or missing shadow detail, think about using the EV control to adjust the exposure.
After the overcast days and long nights of Winter, Spring is a welcome season of new life. For the photographer it’s a time of fresh new colour as the sun moves higher in the sky, flowers bloom and leaves return to the trees.
It starts with apple blossom and daffodils; pink, white and yellow. Sunlit against a clear blue sky these can give a picture of freshness, awakening from the hibernation of winter. As the weeks roll by, towns and the countryside turn greener, and again this green works well with the blue sky.
When taking photos of flowers you can get close up, allowing you to experiment with depth of field. Using a large aperture will give a shallow depth of field, allowing you to blur the background. However, you should carefully choose your focal point. At this point you may want to change the camera’s focusing mode from automatic to something more appropriate, either manual or single point focus.
Alternatively, you may choose to use a smaller aperture, meaning that more of the shot is in focus. The focal point becomes less important in this case but your surrounding and background might become more of a distraction.
Later in the Spring comes the blaze of colour that is rapeseed, or Canola as it is known in America. This can present some excellent photo opportunities, although photographers with a sensitive nose might want to pass this up.
If you are anywhere near a sheepfarming community, lambs and lambing can make good subject material, although it’s always important not to disturb the animals. There are invariably some great shots to be had of lambs running around the fields in the Spring sunshine.
Mayday is a good time to focus on seasonal celebrations, with May festivals and morris dancers providing good subjects.ckground might become more of a distraction.
I’m not a big fan of Autumn. In fact it’s probably my least favourite season. The nights drawing in, falling temperatures and the premature launch of the festive season, all providing good cause to mark down the latter months of the year.
However, Autumn does have one redeeming feature. It is the most colourful of seasons. The splendid reds and maroons, the vibrant yellows and orange, the vivid greens. On a clear day, these colours contrast beautifully with with grass greens and sky blues.
Early Autumn is the best time to photograph the season, before the wind blows the leaves from the trees and the rain turns them to mulch. This is when the shortening days cause chlorophyl levels to decrease and pigments such as cartenoids and anthocyanins are revealed.
The intensity of colour is related to the weather leading up to and during the Autumn. This can effect the chemical processes that take place as the trees prepare to shed their leaves.
When capturing Autumn colours I like to use a polarising filter. This reduces reflections in the leaves and really brings out the blue skies, especially at steep angles, without oversaturating the image. The effect can be especially pronounced in uncomplicated pictures.
Choosing the right setting for white balance also brings out the colours. The default setting for most digital cameras is to automatically detect the white balance, but this can be overridden by choosing one of a number of presets for such situations as sunlight, cloud, tungsten lighting and fluorescent lighting.
Autumn colours often appear at their best when photographed during the golden hour – the hour before sunset or after sunrise, when the sun is at it’s lowest. This produces a warm glow that brings out the greens especially. Manually overriding auto white balance is a must at this time as the automatic setting will try and compensate for the colour cast generated by the low sun.