Friday, September 02, 2005

Photo Myth :: Do NOT point at the light.

Why you shouldn't :: taken with my cameraphone

Why you should :: Taken with my olympus C-4000

I’m going to post a few items on photo myths, not because I want to be a myth buster, but because the early photo literature, camera manuals (yes cameras usually do come with manuals), magazines and websites often restate this “myths” without enough explanation.

I do know that pointing a camera at a strong light can caused problems. The reason is to do with getting the correct exposure for the shot. Automatic light meters have a lot of difficulty with strongly contrasting scenes. They will either try to average the whole scene to an average, in which case the light source will be washed out through being over-exposed and/or the show detail lost. Alternatively if the camera has a spot meter, the light, sun & sky maybe ok but everything else will be in heavy shadow.

Yet you can get some really great effects with strong backlighting. The key is understanding how to take the shot using your camera. The fist example I took because I knew it would not work. The phone camera has a simple averaging meter and I did point the camera straight at the sun. The second photo, taken at much the same location and only a few minutes later. This camera has a “matrix” meters methods that bias slightly the center of the photo, but takes several reading not just one. Also I waited till light cloud partially obscured the sun, thus significantly reducing it strength.

The beauty of digital photography is you can take all the photos you are warned not to, and then discard them if they didn't work. Learning what small changes and adjustments can make the scene work, without the “expensive” let downs of ruined prints.
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