Photography is Problem Solving!

    Much of photography is problem solving.  Here is an example.


The Problem:

Shot of Lewisburg Photography Club’s Window Display at D&J Sports.
Taken handheld on Saturday November 6, 2021 at 10:20 am.
Camera set in P mode and ISO set at 800.  Camera selected shutter speed of 1/160 sec. and aperture of f/8.


The problem is the image is terrible due to the dappled sunlight shining through the trees in front of the store and the nasty reflections off the store window.  How to fix it?

      First let’s analyze the image. It’s well exposed. The focus is reasonably sharp. It’s reasonably composed. But poor lighting!
      Notice that using a more expensive camera will NOT help!  One will get similar poor results with a smartphone’s camera, a point-and-shoot camera, or a thousand dollar DSLR camera.  Also, a different lens will not help!
      We need to change the lighting.  However, we can’t move the window display.  We can’t remove the glass in the window. We can’t cut down the trees in front of the store.  How to modify the lighting?

       Before you look below at my solution, take a few seconds and think how you would change the lighting!

The Solution:

Shot of Lewisburg Photography Club’s Window Display at D&J Sports.
Taken on tripod with shutter cable release on Saturday November 6, 2021 at 7:46 pm.
Camera set in P mode and ISO set at 100 for high quality.
Camera selected shutter speed of 2 seconds and aperture of f/4.5.

    I came back later when it was dark outside.  Since I knew there would be less light, I brought my tripod and shutter cable release.  Since there were still nasty reflections off the window from the cars’ headlights and tail lights traveling on Market Street, I waited until there was no traffic to take the shot.
    Did I need the tripod? Could I have shot handheld at ISO 800 with my Canon R6 camera? Since there are 3 stops from ISO 100 to 800 (double each value: 100, 200, 400, 800), I would have shot at a shutter speed of 1/4 of a second (halve each value: 2, 1, 1/2, 1/4).  1/4 of a second is really too slow for handheld.  But with my R6, I could have sacrificed quality and cranked the ISO up more, say to 6400.  That’s 3 stops (double each value; 800, 1600, 3200, 6400) so the shutter speed would now be 1/30 (halve each value: 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32).  I can shoot handheld at 1/30 of a second with my R6.
     Getting good photos is more than having a good camera and snapping away.  Photographers have to be able to detect a problematic situation.  They need to understand why the current situation is problematic and devise a workable solution.
      Keep on shooting!

Posted by Dan Hyde

Dan is the Chair of the Lewisburg Photography Club.

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