Digicam Challenges (was December Blooms)

Mark Wilcox Marque219@Yahoo.com
Mon, 15 Dec 2003 17:00:57 PST
Dear Mary Sue and other PBS folks,

On Sun, 14 Dec 2003 22:28:52 -0800, Mary Sue Ittner wrote:

>We find it a challenge to photograph white flowers with dark green leaves. 
>Either the flowers show and the leaves are too dark or the leaves look good 
>and the flowers are too white and hard to see. And it is hard to tell if 
>they are in focus. Anyone have good strategies for photographing these with 
>a digital camera?

About the only way I've found to leap this particular hurdle is to invest in a
digicam that has spot metering capability.  This allows you to designate the
white flowers as the object in the picture on which to base exposure to the
exclusion of anything else, for example.  I don't know how many mid-priced
digicams have the feature, but hopefully an increasing number will over time.

Alternatively, if your camera offers "exposure lock" capability then you could
get close enough for the flowers to fill the viewfinder, lock the exposure, and
then back off to take the picture normally using the exposure you locked in.
This is another case where the camera has to have the feature built in.

So, the best advice may be to look into the material for your specific camera
and see just what's offered with regard to exposure compensation.

Regarding focus in macro pictures there isn't as much to offer.  Some cameras
allow you to see through the lens that actually takes the picture, which is
called TTL in digicam acronym vocabulary.  This is what I have and use, but
it's rare to find.  I think Olympus specializes in such cameras.  Other updated
cameras allow you to designate an area of the picture that will determine the
autofocus point.  So, you can use the LCD screen in macro mode, then designate
the area picture-by-picture that you want to be in focus.  I have no personal
experience to relate since my camera doesn't offer the feature, but perhaps
others do.  It sounds as if it should work.

If I recall correctly, others have offered various tricks and tips in the past
to establish macro focus where you want it, like putting a gray card the same
distance away as the subject, locking the camera's focus on it, and then
recomposing the shot on the plant to take the picture.

	Mark Wilcox
	Washington, DC,  zone 7b

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