Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Ready for this week's photography assignment? Yeah, me neither. It's actually sort of a technical assignment, so I'll leave you guys with a couple of options after I try to briefly explain the procedure involved.
This week's assignment deals with light metering and gray cards, sort of using manual controls to override our camera's instincts when it comes to recording the light that's reflected off your subject. This isn't meant to be a class or a lesson in itself, and if you feel like getting all technical with it, you can just Google "light metering" and you'll get all sorts of helpful information.
Stated briefly and insufficiently, your camera is seldom going to record an image as your eye sees it. Our brains do a lot of color correcting for us! A piece of white paper looks white to us under lots of different lighting conditions because our brains automatically adjust and correct what we see, but your camera is going to record that piece of paper based on the light that's reflecting off of it (think of how things look under the terrible lights at WalMart compared to how they look under lovey morning light). But there are lots of different tricks you can use to fool your camera into recording the type of image your eye sees.
So, this week, we are doing some experimenting. We will be shooting two tabletop scenes, one black set-up on a black background and one white set-up on a white background, in order to show what the camera would automatically record and to show what you can trick it into doing using a gray card.

Here is where we stop and realize that most of you don't have a gray card.
Here is also where we stop and realize that my professor gave us another week to shoot more shadow and light pictures if we wanted to - he'll grade that work after the extra time has passed.
If you want to keep playing picture games with me and you don't want to learn the wonders of gray cards and white balance and light metering, just skip the rest of this post and take more pretty pictures of shadows.

You need to shoot these pictures in Manual Mode - shutter speed should be pretty fast. Maybe 1/60 or faster. ISO? 200-400. Aperture? Whatever works well once the other two are set. What you may notice is that you do not get true whites or blacks. They're all sort of grayish. HaHAAAAA! Your camera is not as smart as it should be considering how much you paid for it.
Just kidding.
It wants to bring everything in balance to a nice, neutral 18% gray. Are you ready to fool it? Fill the frame with your gray card and take a picture. Don't have a gray card? It's okay. Betcha can find something else gray. Try it out. It might not give you the dramatic results you'd hoped for, and any teacher might kill me for suggesting it, but I still think it's fun to experiment and learn more about your camera and how it works. Maybe you could even Google for an image of a gray card and fill the frame with your computer monitor to take your gray picture. Maybe. I don't really know. Again - not the teacher.
Once your camera has been fooled by your gray card, it's going to take much nicer picture of your monochromatic table settings.

I'll let you know if this doesn't work well for me. But I have a gray card and I want an "A" pretty badly, so I'm going to do whatever I need to do to get it to work!
I'll be posting pictures, but it's going to be a while. I have no idea what to take pictures of. Marshmallows? Chess pieces? Should I spray paint something?

And I'd like to remind you that there's nothing wrong with continuing to take shadows and reflections pictures. Nothing at all. I'm going to continue to take more and I like lookin' at your pictures too. You can also just take pictures of your black stuff and your white stuff with your camera and play with the "levels" sliders in your photo editing software (Photoshop or GIMP). This is not as great as getting the shot right the first time, but still, you'd be amazed at what that can do.
Or you can take pictures of your black stuff and your white stuff and simply be surprised by how your camera seems to make the blacks look washed out and the whites look gray and then don't bother to do anything else about it. You know. Whatevs.

Daily Bliss: my brother and his dog came for dinner this evening
Wake-Up Playlist: "Buffalo Gals" (traditional children's song - and no, I don't know why I woke up singing this one!)

1 comment:

claibornes corner said...

Since I'm in bed I'll skip the new assigment but I love taking reflections and shadows - love to paint them too. What did Mamie think of Huckleberry???