Why is the Snow Blue?

Many of us like to get out and photograph fresh fallen snow. In one of my previous posts I went over how to keep snow looking white instead of grey. Click on the link for some Winter Photography tips. Another problem is when we head out and come back with a card full of blue snow images? What causes this? How can we fix it? The cause is how the snow reflects light. In bright daylight it's not a big issue but when you are in the shade the snow has this blue cast. If the scene is not being lit directly by the sun then its being lit by reflective light. So in essence the snow is being lit by the blue sky. This is why in shady scenes the snow looks blue.

It's not difficult to fix, in camera turn your white balance to shade setting. This is often symbolized by a little house with ray thingies coming off to one side, symbolizing shade.  This will help with the blue cast, but your best bet is to shoot in raw and use a white balance correction in your photo editing software. The shade setting on your camera will get you close but it may not always be as accurate as you would like. Look at the before and after images below.

This image was shot without color correction.

This is with color correction added in post processing.

As you can see there is a bit of a difference in the images and the white balance. You will also notice the sky is much more blue in the original image. I used Lightroom's eye dropper white balance tool to select a snowy area that was lit by direct sunlight. This gives me  white snow, and shady snow that doesn't look blue.

Now that you know how to fix the "problem" is it worth it? Sometimes I will keep the blue cast as it makes the image look and feel colder. This is another reason I shoot in raw. I can change my mind. Like most things in photography there is no right or wrong answer, it's what you prefer.

4 Black And White Photography Tips

Some of the worlds most famous photographs where made in black and white. My inspiration Ansel Adams has many black and white images that are considered iconic. So how can you get great black and white images? These 4 black and white photography tips will help you gain control of your black and white destiny. 1) Shoot in Raw! The reason I shoot in RAW is because RAW provides me with the most digital information from the scene. This is important when processing the image. Shooting in raw will give you a color image, so you will have to convert to b&w (black and white) using some editing software or try my favorite Photoshop plugin Silver EFX Pro. Also shoot at ISO 100 for the simple fact that when converting to to b&w the noise in the image will be more prevalent in the darker shades of the photograph.

2) Shoot in high contrast situations. The better b&w images have a high contrast scene. Something dark and something bright. Some examples of this might be some dark rocks on the shore of a lake. A longer exposure will make the water white as the rocks will remain dark.

3) Look for patterns and textures. With the absence of color the viewer will spend more time focusing on the technical aspects of the image. Sharpness, contrast, and the patterns or textures. You will have a stronger b&w image with the aforementioned elements present.

4) Focus on details. Rough looking hands and older people make great black and white images. The old beat up tradesman hands or the classic wrinkly faces of our elders are perfect subjects. I am sure you've you remember some great portraiture done in b&w. Hard shapes, lines, and the fine details that you may have not of seen otherwise make a great colorless image. Look for those details and visualize the scene.

Follow these 4 tips and you are sure to create some stunning black and white images.

 

This was a 7 image panorama stiched together in photoshop. The scene was overall grey and muddy looking so I converted it to B&W for a better image.

 

 

 

5 Macro Photography Tips

Here are 5 macro photography tips that I use when I do my macro photography.

1) Use a tripod. This is not always required but it will allow for a better "shooting percentage". A tripod helps with sharpness, will allow you to get the depth of field you need for most macro photography, and makes it easier when you are low to the ground getting those hard to reach shots.

2) Use a flash. Using your pop up flash is often not a good idea, depending how close you are to your subject your pop up flash will cast a shadow on the subject. Instead try using an off camera speed light to light your subject or better yet a ring light.

3) Manual Focus. When working in close quarters your autofocus will have troubles focusing and you will have more success using manual focus. I use my live view zoom in on my LCD and manual focus on my subject to get the sharpness I am looking for.

4) When shooting outdoors you will most likely encounter some wind. When shooting flowers or insects on flowers, it will help to anchor the flower to a stick to help stabilize the subject.

5) F16 is the minimum aperture you want, in order to get your subject in focus and achieve depth. With that being said, experiment with different apertures to achieve different effects.

This weeks post picture was taken with a 100mm macro f8 @ 1/30 sec

Hope these tips help with your macro photography!

Waterfall Photography Tips

Photographing waterfalls can sometimes be a bit tricky. I prefer the cotton candy looking water. To get that look you will need a couple of things. One is a good sturdy tripod. Second is low light for a longer exposure. There are many ways to create a long exposure, but I will go over some Waterfall Photography Tips.

1) Use a small aperture. Shooting at f.16 or f.22 will block out the light and give you that depth of field that is the signature to good landscapes.

2) Shoot with filters! In this photograph I used a circular polarizer. This does 2 things for my photograph. First it cuts down the light by about a stop and second it takes the reflections out of the water. Notice how I can see the rocks in the stream. Without a polarizer the stream would have produced glare from the sun. Another filter I use is a Neutral Density Filter or a ND filter. I have a couple but the one that I use most is a 8 stop ND. This will help give  me the cotton candy look in just about any lighting conditions. Even in midday sun.

3) Shoot in the shade/ early morning/ late evening. There is less light and will help you get the look.

Use your imagination and make pictures. I made this photograph.  I stood and set up my tripod in the middle of the stream, don't be afraid to get dirty or wet. I needed a tripod because it was a 13 second exposure. The rock in the stream, the orange leaf. I put them there to create the composition I was looking for. Is this cheating? Not to me it isn't. When I finished taking pictures I took the rock out and held on to the leaf for a few other shots I wanted to make. Use the resources around you to fulfill your vision. Photography is about creating and creative thinking.

waterfalls can be difficult to photograph sometimes, but with the right atmosphere and equipment it's fairly easy to make a good looking waterfall image.