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When shooting in Iowa this last weekend, I was surrounded by black and white photographic opportunities. There was enough snow to create harsh contrast, but not enough to create excessive contrast. The snow accentuates the textures and shapes in a landscape and especially a close up shot. A great characteristic of black and white photography is its innate ability to exhibit detail. Eliminating color is one less step our neural network must process when viewing an image.

BW Triptych

If you look closely at the image to the left, you can see every granule of snow and every speck of dirt. The middle image has excellent contrast between the shadows and the highlights, characteristic of black and white. The image to the right has examples of the previously mentioned traits of black and white. Why am I discussing this? I am pointing out in a round about way that snow is an excellent element for photographers, especially combined with black and white processing. The thing to remember with snow is that it is not easy to photograph in. When done right, it is great. But when done incorrectly, it can wreak havoc on our memories of how we saw the scene. Here are a few guidelines to follow.

1) Overexpose: You must remember that with any camera whether it be a piont and shoot or a DSLR, the internal meter attempts to create an overall equal exposure. In a more technical explanation, the camera tries to create an 18% grey exposure. We all know that snow is white, therefore grey is unnatural. In your menu settings there is a setting usually labled “EV compensation”. When shooting snow I would set this to +1.0 to start. Many modern point and shoots have built in modes including a snow mode. I would experiment with both.

2) Work the angles: With water in any form, there will be angles that display more or less relfectance. Use this to your advantage. You might be able to get some refraction images if you are lucky. In other words, colors refract all the time and its up to you to find them. Here is a little info on getting rainbow shots. Fun fact: rainbows are located 42 degrees off the axis of the sun.

3) Minimalism: Many of the best shots we see are ones that have a single subject and minimal distractions. Look for the single twig, or the lone tree on the horizon. Remember, with black and white the details really “pop”. Keep it simple and intimate and I know you will get some winners. This applies to any camera and any photographer.

Well, I hope this has helped at least one person. I will say one last thing: This last weekend in Iowa was a successful photographic trip for me. The main reason being that I was out searching for images for hours every day. Light is changing every second and therfore creating new opportunities constantly.

MT

P.S. Sorry that this not dicuss my Iowa trip in great detail, I had some things on my mind and now they are in words. Thanks.

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