Winter Photography Tips

This has been posted each winter

since this blog began

Some things are worth repeating

________________________________________________________

Little Bull Run

5 minute walk from home


The start of winter brings to mind a few tips for shooting in snow, cold and inclement weather in general. Let me first say though, don’t obsess and worry about your camera in wet conditions and allow it to ruin your enjoyment.

Reasonable care is adequate (usually)

My biggest problem & concern is personal comfort and keeping the lens face clear of water drops and condensation.

Consider insurance on your gear; when you need warranty coverage most it may not apply

________________________________________________________

Winter specific tips

  • Snow scenes require a positive exposure compensation to avoid gray snow – usually an EV of +1 (more or less depending on the percentage of the scene that includes snow). Go out with your camera today and give it a try – with aperture priority, matrix metering, & zero EV your histogram will be too far to the left. Start increasing EV until the histogram is pushed pretty far toward the right. How much EV did it take? Probably about 1-full stop.
  • If the above sounds like Greek, this post should help.
  • Cold weather eats batteries. Carry at least 2 (3-4 is best if it’s well below freezing). Keep the spares near to your body – your body heat will rejuvenate a “cold battery” and so you can swap back & forth from camera to body.
  • Chemical hand-warmers are great. Besides keeping your hands warm, taping one to your camera near the battery compartment will mitigate the previous problem.
  • Wrap tripod legs if metal and not already wrapped. I have mine wrapped with foam pipe insulation – cheap at Lowe’s. It’s a big problem when your  hands touch cold metal.
    • Bought a carbon-fiber since the original post 😉
  • It’s hard to change camera settings with gloves. Consider the type made for trout fishermen that allow you to uncover fingers when needed.
  • Gortex from head to toe >> hat, jacket, pants, boots and in cold weather – layers
  • _____________________________
  • One last cold weather tip – if the temperature is near or below freezing take care when bringing your camera back into warm temps (house or car) as moisture will condense on AND IN the camera/lens and may cause problems (if not immediately, then later).
    • A simple trick is to wrap a plastic bag or two (like a grocery bag) around the camera and tie it tightly so that air doesn’t get in.
    • Leave your camera/lens in the bag until it has time to warm up to ambient temperatures.
    • I often wrap my bagged camera in my jacket for good measure.
    • Condensation can cause water damage & it’s unlikely your warranty will cover the repair.

Precipitation (rain, snow, sleet….) tips

Your camera needs protection from precipitation, too. The amount depends on whether you use a “pro” body or a “consumer” body (the latter for most of us, I suspect). Consider the following –

    • Using a lens hood in rain/snow helps greatly (keeps the lens face back from the elements and keeps your images from being ruined by drops on the lens face)
    • If you’re not going to shoot for several minutes replace the lens cap.
      • Finished shooting for now?
      • Yes, then > check lens for water – replace lens cap – move on to next shot. Repeat.
    • Use a “rain coat” for your camera. Here’s one that’s cheap (2 for $5), effective, and works with a tripod. No camera is water proof and even if the lens is dry the water may eventually cause problems – and that’s why a camera rain cover.
    • Check which direction the wind (rain/snow) is blowing and try to avoid shooting INTO the wind. If you do shoot into the wind, and often it’s unavoidable, dry the lens face immediately after the shot else you’ll forget.
    • Check your lens face before getting ready to shoot – each & every shot, not just the first.
    • My experience with the D800E, a step up from the D300 and D70 bodies I used previously, has changed my mind about better bodies needing less protection.
      • Given their higher cost (purchase & repair) they may need more protection

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Another Concert Video

Summary – I recently posted a video made from still images I captured at a concert. Just did another concert to try another approach.


COME ONE, COME ALL

Enter the Nature ExhibitDetails here

Check out the Nature Exhibit entries to date.



.

A Concert by The Swing Shift Big Band

If you’re a child of the big band era

Like Me

This was the concert for you

 It was so dark (except the stage)

I was at ISO 25,600 for lots of shots

Never under 3200 (no flash)

Amazing – between the camera and P-P noise reduction

These images are fine for the intended use

Hand held (all 6#-7# of it) with ISO 25, 600 – WOW!


The last one of these I did

Was with my Nikon 24-70 2.8 and the D800E

This time I tried the 70-200 2.8

What I needed was a “tweener”

Next time I’ll try the 24-70 again, but

I’ll use the D800E in its DX lens mode

Making the 24-70 a 36-105 35mm equivalent

 


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The Bronx Wanderers Revisited

Summary – I recently posted a video made from still images I captured at a concert. I took some time to redo that video.

 


.

A Concert by The Bronx Wanderers

I redid the video because even though

The stills were reasonably in focus & sharp

As shown by this 100% view of the watch above

2014-04-02_13-45-50 LR2

The resulting video was blurred by comparison IMO

 

So – where did I go wrong?


I placed the still images (58 of them) into a slide show program

I had the program create

The highest quality HD video possible

Further I used a wizard to

Give this video lots of energy

Slide movements and fancy-pants transitions

The show’s duration was synced to

A 3:21 audio recording

(which itself had a distracting low-frequency hum

removed in Audacity, an audio editor)

The basic problem with the above setup was

Too many fast-moving parts

Solved by –

Removing 1/3 of the images

They were similar to others and

Added little (detracted, in fact)

Thus images could move much slower

50% more time to move

And reducing the energy level a little bit

.

Those two solution steps gave an improved product

You can see this same video larger without going full screen

Better viewing experience IMO – go here

 

.

Here’s the original


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Wandering with The Bronx Wanderers

Summary – Monday evening I wandered out of my comfort zone – as in a slow, methodical outdoor nature photographer shooting an indoor rock & roll concert. Take a look at the preliminary results.

Vote for your top three abstract exhibit entries

Lots of exhibit entrants want to hear what you thought (me, too)

.


.

A Concert by The Bronx Wanderers

D800E-_140331_195557__DSC2213_orig LR2

 

I went to a rock and roll concert Monday evening

Being a child of the 50’s (HS class of ’55, college ’59)

I was in my element

until I decided to do photos for the sponsoring group

My D800E’s performance in an event setting had me curious

.

I’m reasonably satisfied with the photos

I am not happy with the slide show video 😦

I like the high energy BUT the in-focus photos are all blurry

I’m posting it (reluctantly) as a 1st draft

and will post a better version (hopefully) in a few days

 

.

Out of my element – A partial listing

#1. Hand held

I use a tripod 99.99% of the time

#2. Natural light

Cool – that’s me 100% of the time

But – wait; it’s in a dark auditorium & no flash photos

#3. Subjects are people

People are in my photos – like almost never

Unless they walk into my shot

 

 

So what did I do (had a great time)

 #1. Left the tripod at home

D800E with pro lens was heavy but manageable

#2. Disabled the flash

Set the ISO at 3200; not a big issue with the D800E

Kept shutter speed at 1/100 or better via aperture

Used a fairly fast 24-70 f/2.8 lens

It was pretty dark

Exposure increased in post-processing

Totally hides that fact

I was after visibility, not realism

#3. Pretended everyone was a flower

No really not a big deal

Just not my 1st choice of subject matter

Keep out of the dancers’ way & be inconspicuous

.

Do I getting a passing grade for my 1st attempt or

Should I stick to my day job? 😉


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Another option – Click on the “Follow” button at the bottom right of the screen.

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A Variable Neutral Density Filter Anyone?

Summary – Neutral density (ND) filters make it possible to use shutter speeds that are slow (-er than without them). Think cotton candy water, streaming clouds, fireworks. As compared to a normal ND, a variable ND allows you to vary the amount of shutter speed slow-down to suit the subject.

Spring in the Great Smoky Mountains NP

Nice to dream about – when it was near 0° (F ) while writing this 😉

Read here – Cotton Candy Water Techniques

_________________________________________________________

Today’s  opening summary at the top gives essentials of

What ND density filters are used for

For more on Variable ND read here

The main purpose of this post is to

Point you to an inexpensive Variable ND (< $15)

Something you can experiment with before spending big-$

On something you may rarely use

Here’s an excellent review of VND filters

The <$15 shown above is referred to as Cheap-O

Before laughing – note that it gets a good review

As a point of reference

Name brands (quality products) run hundreds of dollars

My Singh Ray (thin ring) is $390

_________________________________________________________

Don’t forget the International Abstract Photography Exhibit

Entries close March 31st; it’s free

Entry details are here

The gallery is here


Subscribe (see sidebar). New posts daily.

  • No sidebar? Click here or the blog title at the top of this page.

Another option – Click on the “Follow” button at the bottom right of the screen.

  • Or – “Follow” in your admin bar, displayed at the top of the screen, for logged-in WordPress.com users.

Winter Photography Tips

This has been posted each winter

since this blog began

Some things are worth repeating

________________________________________________________

Little Bull Run

5 minute walk from home


The start of winter brings to mind a few tips for shooting in snow, cold and inclement weather in general. Let me first say though, don’t obsess and worry about your camera in wet conditions and allow it to ruin your enjoyment.

Reasonable care is adequate (usually)

My biggest problem & concern is personal comfort and keeping the lens face clear of water drops and condensation.

Consider insurance on your gear; when you need warranty coverage most it may not apply

________________________________________________________

Winter specific tips

  • Snow scenes require a positive exposure compensation to avoid gray snow – usually an EV of +1 (more or less depending on the percentage of the scene that includes snow). Go out with your camera today and give it a try – with aperture priority, matrix metering, & zero EV your histogram will be too far to the left. Start increasing EV until the histogram is pushed pretty far toward the right. How much EV did it take? Probably about 1-full stop.
  • If the above sounds like Greek, this post should help.
  • Cold weather eats batteries. Carry at least 2 (3-4 is best if it’s well below freezing). Keep the spares near to your body – your body heat will rejuvenate a “cold battery” and so you can swap back & forth from camera to body.
  • Chemical hand-warmers are great. Besides keeping your hands warm, taping one to your camera near the battery compartment will mitigate the previous problem.
  • Wrap tripod legs if metal and not already wrapped. I have mine wrapped with foam pipe insulation – cheap at Lowe’s. It’s a big problem when your  hands touch cold metal.
    • Bought a carbon-fiber since the original post 😉
  • It’s hard to change camera settings with gloves. Consider the type made for trout fishermen that allow you to uncover fingers when needed.
  • Gortex from head to toe >> hat, jacket, pants, boots and in cold weather – layers
  • _____________________________
  • One last cold weather tip – if the temperature is near or below freezing take care when bringing your camera back into warm temps (house or car) as moisture will condense on AND IN the camera/lens and may cause problems (if not immediately, then later).
    • A simple trick is to wrap a plastic bag or two (like a grocery bag) around the camera and tie it tightly so that air doesn’t get in.
    • Leave your camera/lens in the bag until it has time to warm up to ambient temperatures.
    • I often wrap my bagged camera in my jacket for good measure.
    • Condensation can cause water damage & it’s unlikely your warranty will cover the repair.

Precipitation (rain, snow, sleet….) tips

Your camera needs protection from precipitation, too. The amount depends on whether you use a “pro” body or a “consumer” body (the latter for most of us, I suspect). Consider the following –

    • Using a lens hood in rain/snow helps greatly (keeps the lens face back from the elements and keeps your images from being ruined by drops on the lens face)
    • If you’re not going to shoot for several minutes replace the lens cap.
      • Finished shooting for now?
      • Yes, then > check lens for water – replace lens cap – move on to next shot. Repeat.
    • Use a “rain coat” for your camera. Here’s one that’s cheap (2 for $5), effective, and works with a tripod. No camera is water proof and even if the lens is dry the water may eventually cause problems – and that’s why a camera rain cover.
    • Check which direction the wind (rain/snow) is blowing and try to avoid shooting INTO the wind. If you do shoot into the wind, and often it’s unavoidable, dry the lens face immediately after the shot else you’ll forget.
    • Check your lens face before getting ready to shoot – each & every shot, not just the first.
    • My experience with the D800E, a step up from the D300 and D70 bodies I used previously, has changed my mind about better bodies needing less protection.
      • Given their higher cost (purchase & repair) they may need more protection

Subscribe (see sidebar) and don’t miss anything. New posts daily.

  • No sidebar? Click the blog title at the top of this page.

Another option – Click on the “Follow” button at the bottom right of the screen.

  • Or – “Follow” in your admin bar, displayed at the top of the screen, for logged-in WordPress.com users.

AUTO – Nothing

Off to Charleston, SC for a week

I’ve auto-scheduled posts for that period

Dragged out a few oldies (but goodies?)

During the stay there, I’ll throw in  daily photos

If time permits – lots of great photo-ops

________________________________________________________

To create the image that you want, not one like everyone else’s, you must be in control of the camera and not vice versa.

In the lessons on exposure, focus, and motion (shutter speed) we covered the basics. Also, we discussed how to go beyond the basics. In every instance, going beyond has meant taking control away from the camera – first and foremost by not using the camera’s Automatic Exposure mode but using one of the following exposure modes instead,

  • Aperture Priority
  • Shutter Priority
  • Manual
  • and further, when precise focusing is needed, Manual Focus.

Is that all of the ways for camera to automatically “help” us? No. Two very important functions have automatic options. If you insist on using them (don’t) at least be aware of their downside. They are –

  1. Auto- ISO
  2. Auto-WB (white balance)

________________________________________________________

ISO – Changes to ISO result in two things-

  • 1. Change in shutter speed (higher ISO results in a faster shutter speed)
    • Raising ISO is desirable when opening the aperture isn’t appropriate because either
      • The aperture is already wide open, or
      • You need the DOF at the smaller aperture
  • 2. Increase in noise with increasing ISO
    • Raising ISO is undesirable because it introduces unwanted noise in the image
    • Lowering ISO is always desirable

Using Auto-ISO puts the camera in charge of both shutter speed and noise. You should do this advisedly – and not as a matter of routine. I allow my camera to use auto-ISO in only one situation – when I choose my self-designed saved preset, Action (action photos). In this case-

  • Shutter priority
  • 1/250s is my specified slowest allowable shutter speed
  • Auto-ISO makes ISO changes only when the aperture is wide open and that, by itself,  is inadequate to keep the speed faster than 1/250 sec.

________________________________________________________

White Balance (WB) – I am dismayed at the number of times I’ve read “tips” that say to use auto-WB. Just as with ISO, there are times when it’s appropriate but, as a rule, you are better off by choosing a manual setting (such as Cloudy for outdoors – regardless of whether it’s actually cloudy). Some thoughts-

  • If you shoot RAW your WB setting, regardless of what it is, can be changed in post processing.
    • The downside is that you have to do this manually (or batch) for every image to fix your mistake
  • Here is the big problem with auto-WB
    • The light color outdoors changes constantly (literally second by second even though you can’t see it)
    • This means that the color (cast) on each of your images is different since “auto” is constantly “fixing it” for you
      • In auto-WB the light temperature is monitored constantly & “fixes” are made to the image – each “fix” different
      • With a manual WB setting, the same “fix” is applied to each image, thus a constant color rendition
    • If you used auto-WB and want the same color in every image made of a scene, good luck figuring out how to do this on an image by image basis (unless you shot in RAW)
    • This problem is seen easiest if you shoot certain color flowers (like a pink/magenta wild geranium, or a violet)
      • Take a dozen shots of the same flower over a period of 5-10 minutes using auto-WB
      • Load these images to your computer and compare the colors
      • Imagine what you’d do to make the colors all the same (again – easy in RAW)

________________________________________________________

Here’s the final AUTO-never:  never shoot in anything other than RAW (unless you use a RAW+JPEG combo).

  • If you don’t use RAW, you’ve turned the entire process for converting your camera’s captured (RAW) image into a viewable and printable form over to the camera’s automation.
  • In general, there are many ways to do the RAW-to-JPEG conversion – each with different results.
    • However, in your specific camera there is one way and only one way.
    • That 1-way is the auto-process decided upon by your camera’s manufacturer.
    • Usually, the selected process works well but, when it doesn’t, there’s no turning back, no do-over’s, no mulligans, nada.
    • You get what the manufacturer decided was good and that’s it. You’ve just chosen – AUTO-CONVERSION – which may be the worst “AUTO” of all.
      • JPEG is the worst of the worst if the quality introduces undesirable artifacts due to compression
        • If you do use JPEG and not RAW at least use the highest quality (something like Extra-Fine)
        • The  TIFF format, if available, avoids the JPEG compression artifacts problem
        • Once shot & converted there is NO going back.
  • Event photographers (shooting thousands of images – weddings for example)
    • Sometimes use JPEG (after fine-tuning all of their camera settings and their processing workflow)
    • It’s a post-processing time constraint that leads to this (like offering prints on the spot)
    • If you’re not an event photographer, you don’t have a good excuse for skipping RAW

________________________________________________________

Summary –

  • ISO – changes can’t be undone even in RAW
  • WB – changes can be undone in RAW; may or may not be fixed easily otherwise
  • Conversion – if you didn’t choose RAW you get whatever you got for better or worse

________________________________________________________

Subscribe (see sidebar) and don’t miss anything. New posts daily.

  • No sidebar? Click here or the blog title at the top of this page.

Another option – Click on the “Follow” button at the bottom right of the screen.

  • Or – “Follow” in your admin bar, displayed at the top of the screen, for logged-in WordPress.com users.

________________________________________________________