Photography for





Setting the Exposure

In a scene where black dominates the whole frame, it is simply not possible to just snap the picture in automatic mode and expecting to come up with beautiful photograph. Automatic exposure does not work here, may be in the future, but not now.
For those using the high-end camera may be able to use "spot metering" to get the correct exposure. But that is out of context here, because this article is intended mainly for those modellers using compact cameras, not an expensive SLR camera.
But one thing which is a must: the camera shall allow manual settings of the exposure. Nnot all compact cameras provide this feature, some of them are completely automatic. Those with fully-auto cameras will still be able to take a high-contrast photograph with a bit more works. We will look into this later.

The simple steps to measure the correct exposure are as following:


At the start of each step, after preparation of the models and light
but before taking any photograph, put a grey paper at the front of the models.
Slant slightly so that the light will illuminate it.
Note that the paper must be grey color (called "grey card" or
"18% grey" in photography). This is due to the camera's metering system which
by default was calibrated to measure "grey tone". If you don't have grey paper,
you still can use ordinary white paper, but have to adjust the
exposure later on.

Now take measurement using the camera. Usually by pressing the
shutter halfway, the camera will display the measured exposure
(the value of aperture and speed). Write down those values.
If your digital camera is unable to show the exposure measurement, then
you have to press the shutter, take one picture of the grey card.
Then see the file, either directly thru the camera or thru a computer,
check its EXIF data. It will show all of the values related to exposure.

Set the camera to manual exposure mode, then set the value of
aperture and speed, as according to the values acquired on step
number 2.
(please consult the user guide of your camera if you do not
know how to do it). Do remember that "manual mode" is not referring
to focusing mode. You do not need to change the auto-focus mode.

For those with fully automatic camera without manual mode, may still use the same steps provided here, except that the blank grey-card shall be substituted with a patterned paper (example: a magazine page which has a grey background, or a photo). Put the paper exactly on the side of the model, and focus the camera to the paper. Keep holding the shutter half-way, then take out the paper, and press the shutter.
Probably you will need somebody to help you holding the paper.


Start taking pictures now.
As long as there is no changes to the position of light and the models, the settings will stay the same.
So you may take as many pictures as you want.
The above photo is one of the result. If you prefer an even background, adjust the position of
light and model against the background, so that it will not reflect the light toward the camera.


Exposure Adjustment

Sometimes it is necessary to adjust the exposure by increasing one or two f-stops from the value given by the camera. This adjustment will be needed whenever the color of the object is dark.Usually by increasing the exposure around one to two f-stops.
If the color of the object is bright (or light), there is no adjustment necessary.
The exposure adjustment can be done only in manual mode. If your camera does not support manual mode, then you have to adjust the color of the measurement paper; use a darker grey-card if you take a picture of dark object.

See the example below:


The photo above was taken using exposure values as measured by the camera using grey card. ( aperture = f/8, speed = 1/8, ISO = 100 )
It looks too dark, under-exposed, only the highlighted areas appear properly bright.

The photo above was taken using the adjusted exposure values. Increased by two f-stops. ( aperture = f/8, speed = 1/2, ISO = 100 )
It looks better now with more visible body lines.


Below is another example of high contrast photo:

The sleek and curvaeous body of Ford Mustang Mach III was replicated faithfully in this 1/24 scale model.
Photographed in high-contrast lighting, allows the contour of the body to be shown in picture, which otherwise difficult to see in a common brightly-lit photo.




Do you want to know more about the implementation of this photography technique?
go to the next page......

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