White As Snow
By Brad Herndon
Here in southern Indiana winter can, at times, get very bleak looking. The trees are barren of leaves, the flowers are gone, many of the birds have migrated south and many of the small mammals are holed up in semi-hibernation. And then it all changes.
A storm front comes roaring through that may dump from 1 to 10 inches of beautiful white snow on the ground and the bleak looking landscape takes on a winter wonderland look all its own. Kids get out the sleds and have a great time careening down hills. Snowmen are built. Skiers head to the few ski slopes southern Indiana has embedded in its rolling hills. Even delicious homemade snow ice cream may be enjoyed, just as it was decades ago before we had refrigerators and freezers.
Your snow pictures may look dingy like this
Another group of folks also spring into action at this time. The photographers, both amateur and professional. They are especially inspired if the snow not only covers the ground, but also dresses every tree, bush and weed with a fringe of pure white. Literally tens of thousands of pictures are taken at this time, but unfortunately many of the photographers are disappointed when they look at the results.
Instead of brilliant white landscapes, their pictures have a dull, almost gray look to them. Instead of their children sledding down a blazing white slope, the hill has a dingy look to it. Maybe this has happened to you. In the next few paragraphs I’ll explain how to keep your winter wonderland images as white as snow.
This is a color picture of a snow scene
How To Keep Snow White
When God created the earth, he made it so that most things in nature reflect 18% of the light that hits them. Because of this, when the camera was invented it eventually advanced to the point where it had an in camera meter. The designers set these meters up to assume everything the camera was taking a picture of reflected 18% light because most of nature reflects this amount of light. This meant that most of the pictures we photographers take are properly exposed, being not too dark, not too light.
However, not all things in nature reflect 18% light. Snow, for example, reflects 80 to 90% of the light that hits it. A huge piece of coal, on the other hand, reflects virtually no light. In other words, white and dark fool a camera’s meter. For an interesting example, if you were at a wedding and you used your camera on Automatic setting to take a full frame picture of a white dress, a medium gray dress and a black dress, the pictures would all look the same. They would all be a medium gray tone (18% gray). Take a white, black and medium gray piece of paper and photograph them full frame and they, too, will all look the same, being medium gray.
This picture has been converted to black and white
What I have just explained is the reason why snow pictures often look somewhat gray. The camera thinks snow is a medium toned, 18% subject, when it is actually an extremely light, white subject. To correct this problem you must overexposure what the camera meter is saying in order to let in more light.
Almost all cameras, even the less expensive point and shoot cameras, have what is called an exposure compensation setting on them. This may also be called exposure value (EV) or go by another name. Regardless of the name, it allows you, the photographer, to set your camera so it lets in more or less light. More light lightens your pictures, while letting less light in darkens your pictures.
snow makes everything beautiful
In the case of dingy looking snow, start out changing your exposure setting from 0 to +1. This will let in more light (twice as much light as 0, in fact) and make the snow look whiter. It this isn’t white enough, let in just a little more light on the setting, but go slowly so you don’t get it too light and burn out detail in the images.
This simple setting will make sure your snow is white, but as a warning, don’t forget to reset your exposure compensation dial back to 0 when you get done with your snow photography. If you forget to change it back and go back to normal, medium toned photography, your pictures will be over exposed (too light).
snow even makes weeds look eye catching
Keeping Your Life White
A little white lie won’t hurt anyone. Although we’ve all heard that saying, I never heard my grandmother Nanny say it. In fact, she always talked to me about all lies being black. And if they were really bad, she called them dirty black lies. When I was a child her description of lies made an impression on me, that’s for sure, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t commit any of the worst kind, the dirty black ones.
Black, it seems, is generally tied in to something negative, while white is usually tied into something positive, something good, and something pure. The Bible has several scriptures talking about snow, and the whiteness of it.
Another picture converted to black and white
First of all, Job 37:6 tells us that God gave us snow. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’ Each time I’m out photographing snow I think of the incredible power of God, and am reminded once again that he created the entire universe, and the incredible snow I’m looking at. And knowing that each snowflake is a different design just adds to the awe I have for God’s majesty.
The whiteness of the snow also encourages me to keep my life as clean and pure as I can. I have made, and continue to make, too many mistakes in my life, no matter how hard I try not to. I’m always reminded, though, how God takes care of my sins when I read Isaiah 1:18. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
As a photographer I add exposure to my snow pictures so they will be pure white. And when my life dips into a dingy stage, I add exposure to the Son, Jesus Christ, to make my life whiter once more.
Until the next Creative Photography lesson, may God richly bless each one of you and may your lives be as bright as the Son.
Tired, but Inspired to photograph
Attitude, Attitude, Attitude
by Brad Herndon
Our business office is in our garage and one night after working hard until 10:30 p.m. I walked the short distance to our house. As I started to open the back door I happened to notice a gray tree frog on the glass. As tired as I was, I turned around, opened the office door, and got my tripod and photography equipment out. I had to put on my 105mm macro (close-up) lens, but I was able to capture the shot before the gray tree frog moved to a different location.
I could just have easily looked at the frog and continued on into the house for a good night’s rest. Capturing good photographic images, like so many things in life, depends quite a bit on a person’s attitude. We all know people who have absolutely nothing wrong with them and are financially blessed, yet when talking to them it seems all they do is complain. Other folks we meet, meanwhile, may have some severe handicaps, yet they are upbeat and optimistic and a joy to be around.
To be a successful photographer, an upbeat, optimistic, positive attitude is certainly one of the first requirements. As Carol and I do our Creative Seminars in churches, I have the opportunity to listen in on many conversations. I hear people tell about it being too hot to take pictures, and it being too cold to take pictures. Others may say it’s too dry, too wet, too sunny, or too cloudy. Still others remark they don’t live in a pretty area, and they don’t have a good camera. Oftentimes I hear they don’t have the right lens, and many of them relate how they don’t have time to take pictures like other people do. The truth is, none of these excuses are valid reasons for not getting excellent pictures. Their main problem is their attitude, and this prevents them from getting outside and capturing outstanding images that are waiting for them. Don’t let this happen to you.
Obviously a lady with an upbeat attitude
I love the epitaph on the accompanying tombstone picture. It says:
EDITH BERNICE COURTNEY
Feb. 10, 1925-Dec. 30, 1981
"I Told You I Was Sick"
Now there was a lady who had a great attitude in life. She is still making people laugh even though she left this earth almost 30 years ago. I try to live in a similar manner.
Have a good attitude and keep smiling!
For example, on the frog picture I put the words "Attitude Is Everything! When life gets tough, hang on"! On the picture of our granddaughter Hannah batting, I noticed the big smile on the ball (this picture has not been doctored) and put the words "Attitude Is Everything! Smile! Even when you’re about to get hit." Folks love to see these pictures in our seminars, for it gives them a good chuckle, and more importantly I hope it inspires them to have a good attitude each and every day of their life.
Odd advertising, but still in business!
By the way, I want to acknowledge that many people have encouraged and inspired me along life’s way. The owners of a little country restaurant in western Illinois are a good example. This restaurant has home cooked food, Amish baked goods, fishing supplies, ham, and jams, among other things. The top line of their sign, though, says "EAT HERE GET WORMS". In the midst of this extreme recession many country restaurants are closing down, but not this one. I’m convinced the owners’ great attitudes are one reason they are still going strong.
The Good Book Inspirations
In Philippians 4:4 in the Bible it says, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say rejoice".
I love this scripture, and even when I’m not feeling so good in the morning, this is what I feel God is saying to me: “Rejoice in the Lord always, Brad. It really is a good day. And in case you didn’t catch it the first time, I’m going to tell you once more…. again I say rejoice! Thanks for paying attention.”
Equally inspiring for me is the scripture found in Psalm 118:24. This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
I enjoy telling people that all days are good; some are just better than others.
Entry way sign over old dirt road
Putting Inspiration Into Practice
When Carol and I made our vacation plans for the fall of 2010 we planned to go to the Four Corners area out west. When we started out in October, however, I soon became ill. One day I felt decent, then the next day I felt like death warmed over. Carol wasn’t doing any better since she was recovering from a potassium deficiency that caused her to feel dizzy.
Regardless, we kept on photographing, eating in Redneck restaurants, and talking to the endless number of fascinating characters who live within the Midwest. We didn’t end up making it any farther than Kansas, but we both agreed we had a fantastic time, despite the adversities we had encountered.
I have attached only three of the hundreds of interesting pictures we took on this trip, and there is no way you can tell by looking at the pictures whether we felt good, or bad, when we tripped the shutter on each image. I remember feeling decent when I took the picture of the cowboys and cattle sign in Kansas, but that wasn’t the case on the other two pictures.
Exterior was damage, Interior yielded cool shots!
I felt sick and dizzy when I took the covered bridge image, and the circumstances weren’t what we expected them to be as well. This covered bridge spans a beautiful stream in Missouri. The fall colors were gorgeous, and we were really looking forward to taking pictures of this beautiful setting. What we didn’t know is that a flash flood had hit the area during the summer and the state had to bring in several workers to take all of the siding from the bridge so it wouldn’t be swept away by the force of the water.
Although workers had replaced the rough exterior siding, the pretty white exterior siding was only partially replaced. In other words, the bridge looked ugly. Not ones to give up, we concentrated on photographing the inside of the covered bridge and got some cool shots.
The painting on the building tells an interesting story
The other picture shows a painting on the side of a building in Chillicothe, Missouri. Amazingly, each brick you see in this picture is painted on the building. This picture is one of many eye-catching scenes painted on buildings in this quant award winning Midwest city of 9,000 people. It’s well worth seeing.
On this particular morning I was feeling pretty bad, but rather than stay in the motel room and rest, we were up well before daybreak in order to photograph these extraordinary paintings in the soft light of a new day. Carol and I were both glad we made the effort.
Although it’s not always easy, I encourage you to make the extra effort to pick up your camera and go out into God’s wonderful Creation and capture some interesting images. Like us, you’ll be glad you did.
Brad and Carol Herndon
Brad and Carol Herndon live in a small cabin nestled in beautiful Browstown, In. Brad and Carol have the unique ability to see the world through the lens of a camera! They take this wonderful gift and use it to bring those who view thier work closer to the Creator, Almighty God, who has created all things seen and unseen!