I always look forward to the holiday season. Everyone has time off from work, the mood is festive and snow is falling through the air. The holidays are also a great time for photography. Beautiful winter scenes are plentiful, parties provide portrait opportunities and holiday lights produce colorful twilight images. This winter season, make sure to get your camera out and start shooting. Just follow the tips below for better images and new creative ideas.
1. Make the snow white. Depending on where you live, most places have snow in the winter. The biggest mistake you can make photographing snowy scenes or white-sand beaches is having them come out gray in the final photograph. Why does this happen? Camera meters average out exposures to middle tonality, turning white into gray in color. But the good news is that digital photography has many tools to correct this mistake, both at capture and in editing.
The easiest way to make snow white is to check your histogram after you take the shot. The histogram represents the amount of specific tonalities in a scene, with the right side representing the bright tones and the left side showing dark tones. When reviewing your histogram, make sure it’s pushed to the right side so the snow is white. Do this in manual mode by opening up (choosing a wider aperture) or slowing your shutter speed, both of which let in more light in the exposure. In program, shutter and aperture modes, add light by going +1 stop or more with the exposure compensation button. Your histogram should push right up against the right side to make the snow white.
If you open the image in an editing program, use the exposure slider and move it toward the right to make the image brighter. You also can use a Levels adjustment layer to do the same thing. Remember, it’s better to get the exposure right in the camera so you’re capturing more data in the highlights rather than trying to correct your exposure in the computer.
2. Use bounce flash indoors. Remember the last time you went to a party, broke out your camera and started shooting candid shots of friends and family, confident that you were creating some fantastic images? But when you browsed the images on the computer, you had overexposed faces, black backgrounds and red-eye reflections in grandma’s eyes that reminded you of a horror movie. Next time, try using bounce flash to eliminate these problems.
Bounce flash works by aiming your TTL flash head toward the ceiling or other reflective surface and bouncing the light back onto your subject. Many rooms and buildings have white ceilings, perfect for bounce flash. Just remember, your flash will pick up the color of the surface it’s bouncing off of.