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SES PhotoGraphs


Gumby
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I'm a newcomer to this website and Forum, I've been carving for about 4 years and have competed in usasa events. I love that there is a website for this sport. It's very difficult to go at this thing alone like I have, hopefully soon I will be converting some skiiers.... (Shudder) but the more the merrier. I would like to comment on the photographs from the past SES events. I'm a serious amature photographer and I see that more than 85% or so of the pictures from past SES events are badly underexposed. The moments are caught nicely but underexposure is a problem. I know this is not the forum for photography but if anybody needs advice on how to take better pictures in the snow (which is not easy) please let me know and I will ramble on some more ;P. Great to finally be a part of something here and hope to make some friends.

Michael

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Hey Michael ,

I'll be bringing my Digi Gear and shooting RAW so compensation shouldn't be a problem besides I usually set +.5 to 1 Stop over anyway or spot meter on the subject and to hell with the background as we all know that Snow can be a right Pain .

Oh Michelle am I sposed to sign up somewhere ? I forgot to do it if so !! :

Mozz

http://www.srsphotography.com

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I dont think I will be able to attend the SES though I would love to. My work schedule is kinda screwy in the winter. I think I will take vacation for it next year and all will be well.

I've had a few requests by E-mail in addition to the ones here to help, so I'll give some pointers that have helped me and hopefully will help you.

I still shoot with film so my learning curve was slow and I had to pay attention to detail so I would get it right. First off, one very important thing in my bag is a "Grey Card", as you might know the light meter in your camera cannot see colors and judges the exposure on about a 18% grey method. Which means that if you were to take a picture of a little black cat in a mountain of white snow your camera meter will see all that white snow and a little black spec and want to average the exposure so the picture is 18% grey. Thats why most of the pictures which are taken in snow, the snow is grey (usually close to 18%).

That leads us to the grey card, which I use in high contrast situations to get my exposure right on. I will set my camera on spot metering and make sure my grey card is in the same light as my subject (and that my shadow is not over the card) and I will take a few readings of the card to see where my exposures should be at for a desired shutter speed. If you have a camera that allows shutter piority this will be easy just set the shutter speed you want, lets say 1/250 or 1/500, will stop just about anything. I will remember what the camera set as the aperature, and set the camera on manual, dial in that shutter speed and aperature and shoot away. This will get you very close to the correct exposure.

Most higher end digital and film cameras have a type of metering called matrix or segmented metering, this can also work well but you can never tell what the camera is basing the exposure on so I only trust it in High contrast situations.

After you get your grey card you can also experiment with other things as a grey card like grass, your hand, your jacket, gloves, camera bag to see how they compare to actual grey card reading then you wont have to pull out the card all the time. Just use your hand or something and adjust accordingly ( for me and most peeps when I spot meter off my hand I add 1 stop and shoot). You might find other things that are closer to the grey cary, and these things don't need to be grey(grey card is actually 18% reflectance) so it can be any color just experiment.

What you can also do if you are taking pictures of a willing subject in a controlled situation (not a race!!!) is use flash. This will greatly improve the results of the photographs, you wil be able to see facial expressions, eyes and shadows much more clearly and in the day time flash is not so annoying because it's so bright outside.

One last thing on shutter speed for those of you with cameras you can set shutter speed on. You can play around with slower shutter speeds and panning the camera to follow the subject, this will give a great effect of speed as the background will be blurred in a linear fashion and the subject will be reasonably clear, this takes some practice but with a digi-cam you can learn very quickly.

If any one wants to add or wants questions answered about this please post here so all can see. We could also offer help on pictures that you just dont know what went wrong. Hope this all helps and didn't just confuse you more!!

Michael

Here is a link to a website that tells a little more about the grey card http://home.nc.rr.com/tspadaro/The_Grey_Card.html This website goes into more detail on explaining all of this and has been a real help to me.

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Grey card is quite sure and time-proven method for exposure. But 18% card seems to be myth, light meters are calibrated to 12% ANSI standard instead (18% comes from print world). So if you meter with ANSI calibrated system 18% grey card, then you underexpose picture by half stop. More about that in Thom Hogan site

Anyway, if shooting digital, then couple of test shots should give you good idea about correct exposure. Or just add some positive exposure compensation with matrix/full frame metering, if most of frame will be covered with snow. One possibility is to meter exposure from riders cloth and go from there by zone system (if it's dark, then decrease exposure a bit, otherwise increase): carving junkies like to see position of rider and don't care from blown sky or snow.

White balance on mountain could be very tricky (blue cast in shadows, reddish in sun), therefore RAW shooting could be best. But it fills buffer and memory card faster and post-processing of hundreds or thousands of pics could become very time-consuming. Easiest would be to set WB after snow (as most people expect snow to be white) and watch out for changing conditions (sun is covered/uncovered with clouds, coming out from shadows etc).

/Me good in theory, bad in practice (and therefore entitled to teach others over Net :D )

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Use of digital has vastly improved the learning curve and made photography easier in some respects. I still use film and have had pretty good luck with grey card albiet 18%, but thats with print film which has a greater latitude than digital.

This subject is deep indeed, but it's nice to give advice and get advice on how to take better ppictures so when we are all 70 and cripple we can look back and say thats me ;P. Everyone else please feel free to post techniques and ideas that have produced great pictures for yourselves.

Happy Carving

Mike

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I just use the camera's matrix (or whatever they're calling it these days) metering system. Modern pro cameras work pretty well on this.... just shoot a couple of frames and check the histo. Then dial in whatever you need to make the graph look right. Think of it as a modern exposure meter. Then bang away, checking the histo every so often in case the light or what you're shooting varies. You'll need between plus 1/3 to about plus 1 2/3.

I always shoot RAW for quality reasons anyway, but it also gives you more latitiude than trannies.

Really exposure just isn't a problem these days, IMHO. Ditto colour balance and focus. So there's all that time and effort available to worry about composition... ;-)

Fill flash works well in the uk where the ambient is not high and the plastic isn't as reflective as snow. But in the mountains it doesn't seem to help much. Don't worry about using it with professional boarders though - it's expected and they can handle it. The main problem with flash (assuming you're using a modern system) is recycle time - even the best systems cycle at about 1 frame a second.

I'd like to shoot some more carving, but there are so few people able to do it these days that I seldom meet anyone ripping it.

Here's one from today.

A19S19635.jpg

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Yeah too bad you dont live in my area we could take pictures all day long ;). It's kinda tough to pursuade my wife to sit on hill and take pics of me let alone figure out how to run my camera. You are probably right about the segmented metering, I'm just stuck in my old and trusted ways. I guess when I go digital in a few months I will be able to trust it more. Cheers and keep shooting.

Mike

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  • 1 month later...

Warming up old thread, but maybe someone is interested in technical details for SES: in Zinal I took pics with D70 with following setup: matrix metering with +0.3 exposure correction, auto white balance with -1 correction (to get more warm pictures), program P mode. AF-S, center focus area, continuous shooting mode, JPG, ISO 200 (for action shots, for landscapes I went with NEF and up to 1600 in "cinema" shots). Weather was clear sky, most pictures were taken on sunlit areas. Exposure was ca. 1/1000, aperture 1/8-1/10,

Results are here:

http://web.starman.ee/vkrouverk/zinal/index.htm

Pictures are only resized, no other correction done. Exposure was OK in most of pictures (in shadow or overcast one can add more exposure compensation probably), white balance in some cases too blue (custom with metering from snow would have been perfect, but I was too lazy for that) but mostly OK. For some reason some of pictures were out of focus (they are not shown in my homepage), although AF-S shouldn't allow this according to my understanding, so I'm not sure, whether it was due to too fast moving subject or due to fact that I wasn't able to keep target in focus area (as there was so much light that I could focus on smallest snow trenches)??

Lenses were Nikkor 24-120 AF-S VR with UV filter. 120 seemed to be too short in some cases, so I'm looking for 70(80) - 200 lens next, although f/2.8 lenses with 200 mm length and 1.5 kg are not easy to carry around. Unfortunately Nikon doesn't produce (yet?) suitable for such event lens: something like AF-S 80-200 f/4 with weight <1 kg could be real winner.

But seems like Nikon has covered fast and long pro lenses with AF-S options, so maybe more consumer/prosumer lenses in near future (fingers crossed!)...

Recommendations for better shots and comments are most welcome!

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