Lone Tree in Snowfall - Shooting in Heavy Snow
Cambridge In Colour http://www.cambridgeincolour.com is one of the sites I like to follow. Occasionally, I like to submit photos to their photo competitions. Last week I won the Monochrome Mini-Comp # 908 with my entry, Lone Tee in Snowfall. http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/forums/thread35106.htm The shot, which was taken in heavy falling snow has a couple of tricks in it that are worth sharing.
When I went out to take pictures that day, I used an umbrella to shield myself and the camera from the snow. This also helps to keep falling snow from being right in front of the lens, which is very noticeable in the resulting photos. The umbrella is a bit awkward to handle but it helps.
Even with the umbrella, snowflakes close to the camera are going to cause blobs and smuggy spots in your images. The resolution for this is put your camera in multi-shot mode and take two to four images. You can use a tripod but this is not necessary if you can hold the camera reasonably steady. Do not bracket. All the images should have the same exposure and focus.
Take the shots into Photoshop and open them all. Go to edit>automate>photomerge with the merge settings for auto, blend - off, and add open files. This will put all the images into one image with the individual images as layers. The bottom layer is the merged image. Turn that layer off.
Now add a mask to each of the images excepting the merged layer and the layer above. Enlarge the image to 100% so that you can see the detail well. Using a soft, black brush of about 100 pixels at an opacity of about 80% and flow of 100%, start painting out all the visible snow blobs and fuzzy spots. If another blob shows up under the layer you are working in, just go down another layer and paint out the spot there as well. In most cases the blobs are easily painted out in one layer. This image has four layers and I did not need the fourth.
When you are done, merge the layers discarding the unused layers and you have a snowfall image with no blobby and fuzzy spots in the foreground.
BeforeA typical layer without any removal of the close-focused snow. Notice the large fuzzy spot in the lower right hand corner. AfterThe near-focus snowflakes are gone. Notice how the area in the lower right hand corner has sharpened up. Final ImageThe softness of falling snow is still there, but the distracting blobs and fuzzy spots are gone, leaving a gentle but sharp photograph.
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