Sunday, December 18, 2005

Winter is a Good Time for Black and White

Lion in the snow
Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
If you are some of those unfortunate enough to live in a climate where it never snows, this entry won't be very useful to you. If however, you are able to look out your window right now and see a bunch of white stuff on the ground and don't live next door to an exploded flour mill, then this post applies to you.
WINTER -- monochromatic -- black and white --
Snow and anything it covers; ice and all it surrounds. A great time for black and white photography, whether you are using film, or... ahem, digital.
It's a good time to look at form and shape and subtleties of how the snow makes things look diffferent. Sometimes more beautiful than they were before. Sometimes uglier, too, especially when the slush piles around things.
The photo here was taken several years ago with one of my Argus C-3 cameras with a roll of Kodak C-41 b&w.
Argus C3 standard - an American Classic
Using a manual camera in the winter is a good idea. Batteries can get cold and leave your caamera a useless piece of machinery. But, here are some tips to help with winter shooting:
1. Keep your batteries warm or carry an extra set if you are going to outside for more than a few hours, especially if the temperature is below 20 degress F.
2. Carry a plastic bag to put your camera into when you come inside so that moisture does not condense all over your camera and optics.
3. If you are metering a scene that is snow covered -- compensate your exposure by at least +1. That is, if your meter says f16 at 1/125, shoot at f11 at 1/125 or f16 at 1/60. Your meter will underexpose a pure white scene by at least 1 or 2 stops, so you can also dial that in as +1 or +2 on many cameras, film or digital, unless you are shooting in manual mode.
4. If you are using a tripod -- put a length of foam pipe insulation over the base section of the legs so you won't freeze your hands. It will be a couple of bucks well spent.
5. Black and White Films -- Try some Ilford Pan F 50 for fine-grained results. Some people advise shooting it at an ISO of 32. See what works for you.
Another good film to try is Fuji Neopan 1600 for those low-light evening shots, interiors, etc. Fun stuff to play with.

Have fun, and remember Dec. 21 is the Winter SOLSTICE. Happy Solstice to all. After that, the days get longer...

1 comment:

Leesa said...

Love snow on statues. Merry Christmas, Mark! Have a wonderful time in the ice and cold. I have seen some really beautiful icecicles (sp?) as well. Not that much in Georgia, heck I can't even spell the word.