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Page 1. Common Problems and Possible Solutions

One of the pleasures of our Southern Indiana Region driving events is watching the scenery change as the seasons go by. Sometimes the view is spectacular and we wish we could capture it in a photograph. Sometimes we might want to shoot pictures of our friends' cars. If your passenger has a camera, he or she may have taken some great shots but may have also been disappointed by others. There can be many reasons why a particular shot didn't work but there are things you can do to insure more frequent successes.

The science of photography requires that a certain amount of light is needed to record an image on film or a sensor. The amount of light was based on the type of film you used in the "olden days". Today it's related to the sensitivity of your camera's sensor.

Our drives present varying lighting conditions. Fortunately, most modern cameras use automatic devices to read light and make internal adjustments to capture decent pictures. Many even focus for you. All you have to do is point and shoot. Right?

Well, if the result is not always what you expected, here are some reasons why that happens and a few suggestions for ways to have fewer disappointments.

Inconsistent Lighting and Motion
Because our drives often take us through forests and farmlands, the lighting can vary from bright, open sunlight to deep, dark shade. Heavily overcast skies cut out light, too. Those dark places cause trouble.

But if you have less light to work with, your shutter will have to stay open longer, causing blurred images because your car and the scenery outside were moving while the shutter was open.

Automatic metering can fooled. Here, a combination of a very bright sky and cars under the shadow of a cloud makes the cars too dark.

Bumps and vibrations from the road frequently cause blurred images.

In high-contrast, mixed lighting, wait for your subject to appear in the bright areas or wait until there is more even lighting. If your camera has programmable settings, select one designed for active sports. The shutter will prioritize speed over aperture (as much as it can). If you don't have programmed settings but can chose between aperture and shutter priority, choose shutter and try to shoot at 125th of a second or a 250th or higher. One 60th of a second is fine for standing still and capturing a stationary scene, but with a slower shutter speed, your own breathing may be enough movement to blur an image. If you can't make any manual adjustments (or if you can but they are ineffective), watch for patches of sunlight to improve your odds for a good shot. Hold the camera as steady as you can, but don't prop your elbows on parts of the car because the car's vibrations will jiggle the camera. Under iffy conditions, shoot several shots instead of one, in the hope that you will get at least one good image.

Glare and Morning Sun Sunlight can reflect off your dashboard onto your windshield, producing glare that will ruin shots. Dust, bugs, or a film of any kind on your windshield can also interfere with views of other cars and scenery. Also, a built-in light meter can decide that your camera's flash needs to fire, illuminating your car's interior and bouncing light off your windshield.

Solutions: Clean your windshield inside and out before a drive. Use a polarizing filter to reduce glare if one can be used with your lens. Turn your flash completely off while you're on a drive.

Another problem is that on early morning drives traveling eastward into a bright sun, the cars, trees and buildings in front of you can look dark and dull because the side you're seeing will be in shadow.

Solutions: Avoid shooting while driving directly into strong, low sunlight. Wait for a turn to the north or south so the sun will be to your side.

The Wrong Camera? You don't need an expensive camera. As long as you understand what your camera does well and what it does poorly, you can usually take great shots.

Solutions: Try the suggested remedies above for the most common problems. Note the Upsides and Downsides of different camera types in the next section. Read through your camera's manual again. I find something new and helpful each time I look at mine. If all else fails, consider a more capable camera for the kinds of shots you want to take.

Continue to:
Page 2. About Cameras and Camera Technology
Page 3. Extra Thoughts

Photo Hints © 2020 Jerry and Susan Jindrich
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