photographing falling snow

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by tom beard, Jan 18, 2010.

  1. tom beard

    tom beard TPF Noob!

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    I recently got a D-90/18-105 kit zoom/70-300 kit zoom & SB-600 speed lite. I'm not yet comfortable with all the users manuals on the camera and the speed lite, and mostly shooting in auto or programmed auto. I live in the mountains in So. Cal. and we have about a week of heavy weather moving in with lots of snow. I've tried this before with the 18-105, and the flakes close to the lens are OOF (either that or too low a shutter speed). This time I'll focus at minimum focus length (1.5') and use the speed light so I can stop the lens down to f-16 or more for DOF. I'll study up on it, but the multiple page references between two different manuals are still confusing. It ain't easy being a dumb noob! Any guidance to get me in the ballpark would be gratefully appreciated.

    Thanks, as always, Tom Beard PS: The power has already gone out twice. If I get great guidance, I hope I can boot up to read them. Life is a picnic---If it ain't ants, it's cockroaches.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  2. TJ K

    TJ K No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well if you mean you want to have all the snow in focus it's not really possible unless you're shooting from under a porch/window so you can control the distance from where the snow is in front of you.

    If you are out in the snow there is going to be snow close and far from the lens and it can't all be in focus. So shooting from a porch is the best bet.

    If you want more DOF then bump the iso and stop down the lens a bit. Depending on the amount of light you might not really need the speedlight.

    Especially if you're just pointing it right at the subject and get harsh light it can degrade the image. GL
    TJ
     
  3. tom beard

    tom beard TPF Noob!

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    Thanks TJ: Yes, I can shoot it out of the front door. That lens has a good depth of field (f3.5-5.6), so much so that it's hard to get much bokeh with it. Thanks for mentioning not having to use the flash. It occurred to me that if I can get a high enough shutter speed to stop the motion of the falling flakes, using the flash might blow them out in the foreground (?). I'll start with your suggestions and also play around with the flash with a diffuser and see what happens. Thanks a lot. TB
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yep--flash used on falling snow tends to make the closest snowflakes look like brilliant white blobs. I hope you have electricity down there--tonight I read on the web that 20,000 or so people in your general area were without electricity due to the big storm system.
     
  5. keith foster

    keith foster TPF Noob!

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    It seems that most of the successful shots I have seen of falling snow usually have some sort of backlighting, like a street light or pole light some distance away and then photographing the snow falling between the camera and the light. I have not actually done this so can't give you advice on settings.
     
  6. tom beard

    tom beard TPF Noob!

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    Hi Darrel, Yep, Power has been blinking on and off all day. Rain heavy enough to disrupt satellite TV. I had a hunch about the blobs. Heavy snow predicted tomorrow so I'll just shoot all around it and see what comes out. I must remember to write down the exif info on each frame to see what works best. Thanks for making me thimk. TB (Sorry if a little off topic)
     
  7. Renol

    Renol TPF Noob!

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    I took some shots of falling snow a while ago. In my case it was backlit against a street lamp out in front of the house. Obviously the rate at which the snow falls will vary, so take my shutter suggestion with a grain of salt. In my case of some average snow fall a shutter speed of 1/60 was enough to give some motion blur of the snow falling while still preserving the individual flake streaks. Faster than that you'll begin to freeze the flakes in air. As you go slower you get more streaks and they begin to blend together. I took one exposure at 5 seconds and all you could see was a foggy haze with no detail.

    I have no idea what would look best in general or the "suggested way" for falling snow to look, so play with the shutter speeds and see what you think.
     

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