Shooting Glaciers


I had photographed the Rohtang La in April, but I found these images to be completely washed out. I am travelling there again, and I need some advice on what exposures will be ideal for shooting the glaciers.
Padma Moorthy, via email

This article was originally published in December 2014.

Shooting snow and glaciers in daylight can be tricky, because the camera’s automatic metering modes will underexpose your photograph because of all the bright, reflective whites of the snow. In such situations where the surroundings are predominantly white or black,the camera tries to achieve a middle range of tonality, making your photographs look dull.

A simple method for getting the exposure right is to use the exposure compensation function of your camera. With this, you can compensate by adding or substracting exposure from the metered value. For sunlitsnow, adding 1 to 1.5 stop usually works best, but experiment till you find your perfect exposure. Additionally, if your camera supports RAW, capturing your photographs in this file format will allow you to make substantial corrections when you edit them later.

Most basic DSLRs and compact cameras also come with a ‘Snow’ mode. It corrects the auto white balance and metering to avoid underexposingthe image. The Snow mode is quite useful if you do not want constantly manipulate camera settings. The drawback is that you lose control over aperture and shutter speed, limiting creativity.

Tags: November 2010, Question of the Day, Shooting Snow, Snow mode, High Key, Rohtang La