Over roughly 24 hours Albany was blanketed by a snowstorm, dropping over a foot in the city proper, and more in other areas of the capital district.
Considering that the heaviest snowfall was overnight and during the morning of the 12th, there were relatively few delays or incidents. Many schools closed, but most offices stayed open, and my experience was that the buses were running better during the storm than the next day. Just one more reason I love city life; not needing to drive to work means I can shrug off weather like this, at least until I do have to move my car for snow emergency parking. I haven’t missed suburban life for a second.
I don’t usually carry my main camera with me day to day, mostly because it’s not exactly light; even if I mount the so-light-you-forget-you-packed-it 50mm f/1.8, it’s two pounds with the battery. It’s also pretty big as far as cameras go, and I’m not thrilled by the prospect of banging around $1000 worth of electronics (that’s current value, with depreciation) or, I don’t even like to think of it, loss or theft. But I knew I’d at least have the opportunity to have some fun, so I packed it with the above-mentioned lens and an old manual 28mm with an adapter — also small and light — and took the long way to work. And then walked home, and out again that night, and then took the even longer way to work the next morning, photoing (yes, I will use the word “photoing”) all the way. I’ll have to do that more often, it was fun.
These two were great, I got a “nice camera” as they passed and we had a short exchange, and they wanted to pose for a photo. They were looking for driveways to shovel for a few extra bucks — I guess the plug hasn’t been pulled on the American dream yet — and she grabbed some cash to emphasize that. I love when this happens, and it’s nice to see people in such a good mood in the middle of something like a snowstorm.
This is normally the kind of thing that I say can be photographed with almost anything, almost any way, as long as you have fun, but there is one good tip for winter shooting. Modern cameras usually meter based on the brightness of the entire scene unless you specifically choose otherwise. With so much white snow, the camera’s meter will be fooled into thinking things are much brighter than they actually are, and compensate so that your shots are very dark. If you’re using a DSLR in manual mode, you can correct that by dialing in settings that overexpose your shot; I find one stop is about right, but of course it depends on the amount of snow in the scene. In other modes, or if you have a compact digital, use the exposure compensation — usually marked “ev+/-” — and again adjust around +1 or so. That’s a starting point; depending on what you’re shooting and what you’re shooting with, you might need more or less. Also important is correct white balance setting, too much white throws it off. Most consumer cameras have a sand/snow setting which is usually good, but in any case you’ll need to experiment. If you’re ahead of the game and shooting RAW, my hint is to check the auto WB level, and drop that by a couple hundred K to cool the scene down a bit.
By now the long process of digging out is well underway. I said in my last post that we don’t usually get as much snow as other areas. Doesn’t mean we don’t get any; after a couple years you get well used to it. A little scarier is the yearly ice storm; that I am not looking forward to, but hopefully it gives another good photo op. Slideshow here.