Small objects too bright? Photo from you digital camera overexposed, bright or washed out? Use the white card trick!
When using a point and shoot camera you are usually a slave to it’s built in intelligence and capabilities. It makes technical decisions like ISO, shutter speed, fstop and whether the flash should fire. Sometimes you can’t even override these decisions.
This is part of what makes consumer digi-cams or digital point and shoot cameras so appealing, it takes the work out the technical behind photography and believe this: sometimes I’d rather use a little pocket camera rather than my DSLR.
So what can you do if you are not a photographer and you want to photograph something on a dark color, maybe even in a light tent. All of the photos in his post were taken with my $200 Canon pocket digital point and shoot camera using the Impact medium light tent kit from B&H Photo.
You get close and you end up with this:
Try this trick: hold a white side of an index card or the back of a recent pizza delivery slip at the same distance and near the subject or object. Have the camera auto focus (where you push the shutter half way and depending on the camera you’ll see a box try to find the face or focal point of the picture and will focus in on that point.
Pull the paper away (while still partially pushing the button) and then finish pressing the button and voila!
Why does this work? Because the camera detects faces and the focal point based on the contrast between colors. By having both black and white (the two ends of a spectrum) the camera has to allow for all colors from black to white to be covered instead of just the darker colors where it tried to lighten the picture to make lightest part it could find white.
Kind-of like when you increase the brightness on your computer screen.
Upgrade to Semi-Pro Equipment
If you want to use a technique like this infront of clients you may want to consider upgrading your white card to something like a White Balance Card Set for under $25. Then you will also have a pure black card to use when trying to shoot light colored objects on light background. Remember the key to the trick here is the range of contrast from black to white no matter what color the subject or background is, it’s about range!
Tony Clarke says
I have a Samsung L60 compact digital. Images taken indoors are fine, but all those taken outdoors are way overexposed, regardless of light source or camera settings. I suspect there’s something wrong with either the lens or the sensor. Do you have any tips on how I can test or rectify this? The camera is approx 15 years old