Spring is sprung, the grass is ris.

Well, the skiing is over, my tan is fading like a chameleon changing colour, and at last the temperature is rising – spring is verily rushing along trying to catch up with itself!  As we drove across France last week there were a few scattered primroses and that was about it, the rest was 630 miles of brown grass and a lot of sticks poking into the sky. BUT NOW, wow, that few degrees temperature change has had a quite remarkable effect, and even after only a few days the effects are stunnning.

I was doing a portrait shoot last week, walking down by the lake where my clients live, and suddenly a swallow raced across the grass and out over the water, and this morning there were a couple of  House Martins wondering why they’d left the ‘dry and sunny’ further south.

But what has all this got to do with Michael Blyth Photography and his blog? Well it’s about photographic opportunity, there are landscape photographs, flower photographs, and if you’re really lucky some chances of wildlife photographs, all waiting to be taken. With the longer evenings, come home, have dinner, ignore the demands, and get out there with your camera. The evening light on Primroses and daffodils is something worth catching, keep an eye on your depth of field to ensure the right parts are in focus and not everything else. Another wonderful flower that has just popped open is the Wood Anemone with it’s fern-like leaves and gentle white flowers – expose for the white to avoid burning out the image. If you have a micro lens or a close focus facility all the better, but if not there are plenty of opportunities.

Going back to the skiing, we were blessed by going to Montgenevre, just in France, but right on the Italian border. Great company  – Go Montgenevre – organised the apartment, chalet whatever you want to call it. We had a great time, and there were some wonderful opportunities to be had with the camera. Now I cannot guarantee not to fall over so am slightly uncertain when carrying decent camera equipment, I have a tuck in the pocket Canon for family photography, but for half decent publishable images I carry my Nikon D700 with 17-55 lens on, and a polarising filter. Now shooting with a lot of snow around can give some very odd coloured images, a lot of blue cast especially. White balance is one of the keys to this.

John Gravett has done more work on this than I have, and I have used his advice, and quote from him.

Most amateur photographers, and quite a few professional photographers too, have their cameras set on Auto white balance. The extreme blue cast can easily be corrected in camera by either setting the white balance at shade (which equates to about 7000°K) or by taking a preset / custom white balance from the snow. Either of these techniques will give a neutral tone to the snow. Many photographers say “As I shoot RAW files, I don’t need to worry about it at the taking stage, I can just sort it out later on”. I’d sooner get it right in the camera and spend less time correcting casts in front of the computer, and more time behind the camera taking pictures.

Of course, if you’re photographing snow in the sun, it will generally be a pure white when correctly exposed, at, say, sunny white balance. Shadows on the snow in the same picture will still exhibit a strong blue cast. Correcting the cast of these shadows at the taking stage will result in a strong yellow cast on your sunlit snow. Personally, I just leave these blue and the sunlit snow a crisp, pure white.


© Michael Blyth Photography 2024