Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dark Images

In our most recent poll, the most mentioned problem was dark images. This is often caused by one of three issues:
  1. The most common cause of this I believe is people using flash from too great a distance from their subject. I see this time and time again at high school sports such as basketball games. People are 100 to 200 feet away from the action and they are trying to take pictures with their small digital cameras or camera phones. Just about all digital point and shoot cameras have flashes that extend maybe 20 feet at best. The only cure for this situation is being able to change your ISO ( film speed) rating to 1600 or 3200 if your camera has that option. (Be prepared however, for some very grainy looking photos.)
  2. Shooting in one of the program modes (Program, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority) your camera may not have a slow enough aperture/shutter combination to adequately capture the image. (i.e. the light level may call for a lense opening of f1.2 at 1/5 of a second, and if your lenses maximum opening is f5.6 and your maximum shutter speed is 1/30 of a second, you will get a dark image.) Suggested cures for this situation would include: use a flash if you are close enough to your subject or turn on more lights in the room if possible. If you are shooting with a SLR or DSLR, get a faster lense for these situations.
  3. Another situation that will always cause darker images than you expected can happen no matter what type camera you are using, and that is when you take pictures of very light colored subjects. Taking a picture of a white piece of paper (i.e. your company's letterhead) would fool the light meter in your camera. So would a beach scene with lots of white sand on a sunny day. Similarly, taking a picture of a white kitten on a white blanket will probably look very grey in your original photo. In all these cases, your light meter is expecting a subject with 50% grey tonality and it will adjust your exposure to try to deliver that image. When shooting very light scenes (without a balance of light and dark tones) anticipate the wrong reading from your camera's light meter and add exposure with your +/- exposure compensation dial if you have one. By adding one or more stops of exposure, you will overcome this problem and be much happier with your results. For those who want more precise results, use a light meter or a grey card and set your exposure manually.

Hopefully these suggestions will help solve a great majority of the "dark image" problems so many of your were experiencing.

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