Calculated Traveller has been a participant in quite a few winter activities in Ontario as of late. You can check the articles here This brought to mind a couple of situations that make photography a bit more challenging – snow and sand scenes.
To understand these similar situations we need to first consider what the camera sees. In both cases, if it’s a bright sunny day the camera sees a considerable amount of light due to the reflection from the sand, water, and bright sky, or the snow (and potentially bright sky). This light is not necessarily hitting your subject, and it’s not necessarily real either.
To the Slopes We Go! Tips When Photographing Snow
In the case of the snow, the white surface gives the impression of light, but that light isn’t really there, so you need to take control of the camera and tell it to shoot brighter than it thinks. You can do this by using Exposure Compensation, or your camera may have a Snow setting that will handle it for you. Generally, exposure compensation of between 1 and 1 1/2 stops should be enough to reduce the grey in your snow shots so that the correct exposure is achieved, giving you nice white snow.
To the Beach! Tips When Photographing Sand
The situation is similar with the beach scene. Light reflecting off of the bright sand and water trick the camera into thinking there is more light than there actually is, as you can see in the shot below. It may be necessary to change your position to reduce the amount of light shining directly into the camera. Also, if your camera has a Beach setting try that, or adjust your exposure compensation until you get the shot you want.
Digital photography makes it possible to take the shot, review the results, adjust, and take another one until you get the shot you want. It’s digital after all.
For more information about scene modes check out my article Your Camera Wants to Know More.