Advice on E-M5 settings in the snow at high altitude

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Web-Betty, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. Web-Betty

    Web-Betty Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jun 16, 2013
    Hi all,

    We are taking the boys skiing this weekend and I would like some advice on settings, and any tips/tricks to get some good shots. We will be in the Rocky Mountains (high altitude) and the chances of very bright, sunny weather are high. I know that this combination (snow + altitude + sun) can make proper exposure a challenge. Any advice is greatly appreciated. :)
  2. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Use the histogram or the over/under exposure blinkies and expose to the right (just at the clipping level). Fix up in post if necessary (assuming you're shooting raw).

    For a simpler solution, just over-expose by a stop or two if the scene is mostly white.

    Enjoy the skiing too!
    • Like Like x 1
  3. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    ND filter and a polarizer filter. The ND filter will simply cut the bright light down{whatever number of stops the filter is good for}. The polarizer will also cut the light a bit plus show the details in the snow rather than it just being a white mass. Unfortunately it will also darken the sky which tends to be much darker at high altitude{but it would be easy to fix in post}.

    Here is a little video showing the effect of a polarizer in snow.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Make sure that "Live View Boost" is turned off so that you are getting an accurate exposure preview. When there is a large expanse of snow in the frame you may be adjusting the exposure compensation to around one or two stops at least above the metered exposure.
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  5. atom

    atom Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 20, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    To avoid focus issues, I bump the aperture up, thus getting more of the frame in focus. I also like shooting with a zoom. That way you can be far away but still get nice tight shots. Often you can set up a ridge and shot across the slope.

    Shot with a Pentax, but you get the idea: Shot from one ridge across to another at F13, 107mm.

    <a href="" title="IMGP6325.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr"> View attachment 329337 "500" height="331" alt="IMGP6325.jpg"></a>

    That photo was cropped, so I probably should have zoomed in even more.

    The EM5s focus doesn't like things coming straight at it. You might consider pre-focusing with half-press or using back-button focus.

    Here, i had focused on the snow before my friend came into the frame. With the aperture up, all the shots were in focus. F8, 16mm, Pentax

    <a href="" title="Cream Dream by Adam Brown, on Flickr"> View attachment 329338 "500" height="357" alt="Cream Dream"></a>

    And one with the EM5. Shot while riding along-side my buddy. F9, 12mm

    <a href="" title="P2100206.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr"> View attachment 329339 "500" height="281" alt="P2100206.jpg"></a>

    I must say, I really preferred shooting with my friend's K5 vs the EM5, but you can't beat the light-weight and the 9fps of the EM5.

    P.S. Looking back on some of my snow-shots with the EM-5, all were underexposed. I was able to get some back with Lightroom, but next time I'll bump up the exposure, as Lucky has suggested above.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Aegon

    Aegon Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 3, 2011
    Portland, OR
    In face detect AF mode, the camera will meter on the face. Works great in the snow. Not all scenes will have a face, though.
  7. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    In the film days I would add a stop and a half for snow or white beach sand - maybe 2 stops if the scene is all white snow.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. arch stanton

    arch stanton Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 25, 2012
    I've generally found it fine on ski holidays after bumping the exposure comp up a few notches. As mentioned, turn on your highlight blinkies or histogram and enjoy the abundance of light! Snow on the ground generally balances light cloud highlights and if it's a blue sky day you'll get some great looking shots.

    Take a good plastic zip-loc bag with you that fits the camera and lens inside - *ensure* you put the camera in it and seal tight before you go back inside. You'll see the condensation forming on the outside of the bag and be very glad it's not inside on the electronics!

    One other tip - if it's cold enough you get tiny ice crystals in the air on a sunny day, keep an eye out for an ice halo/rainbow down-sun of you :)
    • Like Like x 2
  9. shizlefonizle

    shizlefonizle Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 21, 2012
    I dont think it was mentioned but another technique is to expose for something neutral (maybe the base of a tree) and put on AEL.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. sgreszcz

    sgreszcz Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 7, 2012
    I always wondered if it did indeed to this. So if I set the EM-5 to face detect, and it detects a face, it will use the exposure setting (ie centre weighted or spot) in that focus location?

    I always thought that the exposure metering was only set in the centre, not the focus point as perhaps set using touch focus/shutter on the LCD.
  11. Aegon

    Aegon Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 3, 2011
    Portland, OR
    It is a bit difficult to find where Olympus documents that face detection also meters from the face. Here is something speaking of the E-PL1:

    • Like Like x 1
  12. sgreszcz

    sgreszcz Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 7, 2012
    Ok, so the face exposure only works when in ESP mode, not centre weighted not spot.

    I have to experiment with this. As an aside I need to experiment with metering modes in video modes (along with live histogram and face detection focus/exposure).
  13. Web-Betty

    Web-Betty Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jun 16, 2013
    Great advice has prompted a few more questions :)

    Wow! So many great tips, thank you everyone. My head is reeling, lol. :D

    I tend to underexpose, so this is great advice.

    I have a circular PL filter. My noob is showing--will this work or do I need to get a specific polarizer?

    Great shots! Thanks for sharing. I will be using my EM5, alongside my EPL2--I don't want to fiddle with changing lenses in the cold. :) Now I just need to decide what lens to put on what body.

    So I have a few questions. First, I made sure highlights and shadows was turned on. I'm trying to overexpose and see the blinkies, but I don't seem to have any. Does the blown highlighted area blink red, like it does in JPG preview?

    Second, regarding your baggie trick. After shooting outside, with the camera(s) NOT in any plastic, I put them in plastic and seal them before going back inside. Correct?
  14. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    This ;
    In snowy winter I just bump the exposure compensation by at least a full +1.
    Having said that : the modern sensors have enough DR in RAW to fix snowy auto-exposure under-exposure anyway.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    The Bassman
    Are you looking at a snow scene? Not sure what jpg preview is; if you mean review, then yes - it's the same idea. Let the snow be overexposed. I find looking at the VF I can tell if the scene is exposed well enough, but the blinkies and histogram definitely help.

    Exactly. By bagging the camera just before you come inside, you let the condensation form on the outside of the bag and keep the camera dry. A related though is to never keep your camera inside your jacket - that is a very humid place. Keeping spare batteries close to your body is, however, a great idea.

    FWIW, I find this not so much of a problem at our ski place. We have a mud room where everyone drops their boots, jackets, etc. Which is much cooler than the house itself - maybe 55F. The camera has a chance to warm up there while I'm getting undressed. Also, the relative humidity in the cold weather is low, and it's even lower in your heated house. I find condensation a much bigger problem in the summer when going from a cool house to the muggy outdoors.

    But there's no harm and only a little inconvenience in using the Baggie trick.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Having grown up in Colorado at high elevations there is some good advice already posted. But since you are from Denver you are already at a mile high so things will not be significantly different, except the weather can change in a quarter of the time! And the higher elevation should have little effect on you.

    At 10,000 feet shooting mid day can be more of a challenge than at lesser elevations, but the added contrast can be used to benefit - keep yur eyes open for oppotunites. Many ski resorts offer great photo opportunities early morning, dusk, sunset, and at night.

    Do use a polarizer, snow bounces and reflects light everywhere! However watch the effect of the polarizer, it often easy to get to dark of skies and you do not really need the full effect of the polarizer for many shots. The polarizer also acts as a safety net for front lens when it is dropped in the snow.

    Use ESP metering and set you exposure comp at +1 or a little more.

    Keep several gallon sized zip-lock baggies with you - they seem very easy to lose. And can come in handy other than for the camera. If by some off the wall chance the humidity happens to be high then use a bag as suggested. High humidity is once in a great while thing high in the Rockies but can become a concern. Do remove your camera and lenses form whatever had you had them in when returning inside, but do not place them in the vicinity of a wood stove or other heater.

    I keep a hand warmer in side of small compact case along with some camera batteries. These can either go on inside coat pocket, large pant pockets, or in a case if I have one strapped to me. If you don't have a hand warmer just keep the extra batteries as near your body as possible. If it really cold out change the batteries often.
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