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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old November 21st, 2008, 12:44 AM   #1
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Shooting snow with the XH-A1?

I'm planning a feature for the 2009-2010 winter (in Canada), and I'd like to benefit from the more experienced users rather than suffer through the trial-and-error route ("suffer" because we'll be on a limited budget).

I already know about protecting the camera and equipment from cold and condensation, but I'm more worried about the complexities of shooting snow, expecially as far as dynamic range goes. We will shoot in wooded areas and some clearings, and I'm worried about capturing details in snow and among the trees at the same time. Can this be dione reasonably effectively with video? What filters are recommended? Are there good guides published dealing with shooting snow on video?

I have all of this winter to test out techniques, so hopefully there will be as few surprises as possible.


J.
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Old November 21st, 2008, 08:08 AM   #2
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I don't know about any guides for snow shooting. I just went out and did it last year using the same techniques I've used in other environments, with one overriding consideration. Shoot it a bit darker than you think you should.

Shooting a snow field puts the majority of the image in the brightest white ranges. (OK... call me Capt. Obvious.) As such, your risk of blowing out whites can be high. If you shoot with the light meter between one to two ticks below center you should preserve the whites. If it ends up being too dark, you can pull it up in post.

I generally use a polarizer when shooting in snow. Again, this is a carry over from my other outdoor shooting routine, not something I researched. As I recollect from last year it should help pull up shadows in the snow.

I don't think trees are going to effect your exposure much. It'll just give you more variety in your images. But, if you're going to shoot under snow-laden trees make sure your camera is covered with a rain cover and your head is covered with a hood. The last thing you want is snow blowing off a bough and covering your camera or sliding down your back inside your jacket. (grin)

If you're interested in how the stuff I shot looks, try this: White Mountains in HD on Vimeo

Last edited by Tripp Woelfel; November 21st, 2008 at 07:52 PM.
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Old November 21st, 2008, 02:32 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacques E. Bouchard View Post
I'm planning a feature for the 2009-2010 winter (in Canada), and I'd like to benefit from the more experienced users rather than suffer through the trial-and-error route ("suffer" because we'll be on a limited budget).

I already know about protecting the camera and equipment from cold and condensation, but I'm more worried about the complexities of shooting snow, expecially as far as dynamic range goes. We will shoot in wooded areas and some clearings, and I'm worried about capturing details in snow and among the trees at the same time. Can this be dione reasonably effectively with video? What filters are recommended? Are there good guides published dealing with shooting snow on video?

I have all of this winter to test out techniques, so hopefully there will be as few surprises as possible.
J.
Jacques:

I think you would want the knee to be on a low curve to preserve and compress the highlights for sure. The master pedestal may need to be a positive value to keep contrast at a reasonable level, but you should experiment with this. Color/saturation settings won't really be too critical in this setting.

Setting up a montor for the camera will really be a PITA on a snow shoot. Im planning on setting up my camera (for a ski resort shoot) in the parking lot and leaving the monitor in the vehicle while setting up the camera file. Last year I did not set up my camera other than using my favorite preset and the results were poor.

This question has been asked before with no specific answer. Please post your results (settings) after the shoot.

Jeff
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 11:04 AM   #4
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Two quick comments, in general you need to overexpose for snow to keep it from looking gray, and don't overdo the polarizer effect, it's possible to have too much with video.

Maybe a poor choice of words. You don't actually overexpose for snow per se, but the camera's metering is fooled by it, and underexposes the scene making it look gray.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 06:38 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone...

We started getting snow up here in Montreal, although nothing's sticking yet. I'll be trying out your tips (and polarizing filters) all winter. Meanwhile I'm putting the project together and will try to get financing for the feature to shoot next winter.


J.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 11:25 PM   #6
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You just live in the wrong place. (grin) We had 15cm last week and a bit more yesterday and this morning.

Don't worry. It'll be there soon.
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 06:33 AM   #7
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Hope this helps

Whatever scene I am shooting my main concern is not to burn out the highlights. I frame the scene in auto, lock it in manual and adjust to using the ring on the lens barrel. I have my zebras set to 100%. For snow on a dull day I open the exposure up till I see the zebra bars and close down a bit. For snow in bright sunlight I stop down till the zebra bars vanish. I'm in the UK so we do not get snow often, so I've not done this with my A1 yet. Its a method I use for shooting in general, flat dull days open up, High contrast days close up and at all costs avoid burning out the highlights.
A small amount of burnout on pinpoint highlights is OK if the overall scene would be badly underexposed. It boils down to getting to know your camera and using your judgment. For any really bright scene I always us the ND filter.

Alan in the UK (We have actually has some snow recently!)
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