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Point and Shoot? Not Always

By Mike Pasini, Editor
Imaging Resource Newsletter

We were polishing the old Rumbolino's stainless steel bumpers the other day when we wondered what the point was. We were working pretty hard to create unphotographable specular highlights. We should, we thought, really only polish up to a certain reflectance, checking every rub or so of the clean cotton cloth with a carefully aimed spot meter.

OK, we'd been out in the sun too long.

"It is perfectly legal to point a bit to the left or right to avoid the sun peeking through the trees or the shine of a bumper . . . to get a more reasonable reading of the scene.

But if you're photographing your car, you're probably getting a false reading from your meter. Especially if it's set in matrix mode. We'll bet the dice hanging from the Rumbolino's rear view mirror (hey, they're vintage dice) that your shots are disappointingly off color.

It's those shiny, spectral highlights.

Now we could go on another 500 words about changing meter modes to avoid the problem, but there's an easier way. And it applies to a lot of situations in the field (uh, real life) where you just can't trust your meter because the light is tricky.

It is perfectly legal to point a bit to the left or right to avoid the sun peeking through the trees or the shine of a bumper or any other way-too-bright object in the scene (like the sky) to get a more reasonable reading of the scene. You can lock in that reading by depressing your shutter button halfway.

Make sure, though, that you are focusing on something the same distance away as your intended subject, because you may also be locking in the focus.

With the shutter button depressed halfway, just reframe your shot and finish the job with a click.

If you're framing the shot through the optical viewfinder, you won't see the difference, but if you frame with the LCD monitor, you should see a big improvement in the image even before you take the shot.

In our case, we read the middle-gray asphalt near the car, swung back to the Rumbolino's enamel paint job, and the uncorrected 'maroon' became cherry red. And the bumpers have all the shine they need without extra buffing.

 

This article is reprinted from The Imaging Resource Digital Photography Newsletter,
Beginner's Flash Column, published September 8, 2000

 

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