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09-02-2009, 12:53 PM   #1
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Help on shooting white car with black wheels.

Sometimes I try to shoot my friends car and it's hard to get the black wheels to sho with the red lip and red calipers popping out neatly without much PP'ing. The problem is I guess the car is white and the wheel is jet black and has a small red lip ring around it, and the calipers are also red. When I shoot the car, the wheels turn out underexposed and the red parts don't show although the white car exposed nicely. It's a lot worse when I'm shooting in bright sunlight conditions, it's better sometimes when I shoot in a dark environment and use flash to brighten up the wheels. I figured out how to use manual on my Metz 48 flash but it seems like the flash won't fire if it's out of line of sight with my camera. My camera has to be close and at an angle to fire the flash wirelessly, I don't know whether this is some infrared location problem with my flash or camera or not.

Can you guys help me and give me tips and hints on how to do this. I try changing aperture, ISO, shutter speed, etc. mix and match and nothing seems to be helping much. I would have to overexpose the sky in order to get the red lip and calipers to pop out of the wheel. I want to try doing this without having to do HDR.

09-02-2009, 01:22 PM   #2
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I once did a shoot of a friends car for a British car magazine, and #1 on the VERY long list of requirements they sent me was that I was only allowed to shoot it on an overcast day. No direct sunlight or hard shadows allowed anywhere, period.

Your dilema is why!
09-02-2009, 02:05 PM   #3
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I have this problem too. I have a white car with dark wheels and its really difficult to get it exposed correctly. Too much and the car looks washed out, too little and the wheels are like pitch black...
09-02-2009, 02:25 PM   #4
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Using wireless flash creatively is an art - would help here too if you're having trouble getting enough light on an important part. Remember wireless flash is not done by IR, it's done optically - triggered by a pre-flash, which communicates with the camera. If the place you're shooting is too bright, the flash trigger from the camera won't be strong enough for the flash to register it - then no flash.

Try a shadier area - then you also have more control of the light as well.
Cars are best captured without full sunlight anyway (if possible)...

09-03-2009, 06:51 AM   #5
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Take a neutral gray photo card into your local body paint shop along with your car & have them match it..... exposure problem solved.
09-03-2009, 09:01 AM   #6
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Seems like if there's high contrast and bright light, might be hard to get good dynamic range. Maybe you could try exposure blending or bracketing? Technically, I don't think that's HDR. I've played around with taking a raw image in post-processing, having multiple copies of the same image open, each one with a different exposure compensation. And then doing layer masks, etc and manually painting in the different exposure areas.
09-03-2009, 09:59 AM   #7
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Here's the deal: the car *is* white, and the wheels *are* black. So right there, that is already the full range of tonal values that you can reproduce on a print. The white of the paper is no whiter than your car, and the blackest ink available is at most only slightly blacker than your wheels. So totally independent of the "dynamic range" of the camera, there is no way to *accurately* reproduce an mage of that car without essentially pushing both the whites and blacks to the point of the clipping. If you don't want that, you'll need to basically lie about one or the other - make the car appear less white, or the wheels less black. Shooting RAW (to give more dynamic range in the captured image) and then adjusting levels, curves, and/or other controls in PP is going to be the way to go.
09-03-2009, 04:04 PM   #8
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I did an experiment under similar condition (except for the red parts).

I found a white car in the parking lot, in the sun. Using spot metering and in Av mode, with ISO 100 at F/11, my K10D measures 1/1600 sec for the white body and 1/80 for the black tire. That's a bit more than 5 stops, bordering the limit of the camera's sensor.

So I manually set the camera at F/11 and 1/400.

Here's the photo and the histogram in LR. Note the clipping on either side of the histogram, and the red/blue hightlights in the photo:



The dynamic range just exceeds the capabilities of the sensor.

I don't have a neutral density filter here to try. But I don't think it helps.

HDR may help, but I don't have access to it.

Use this to your advantage: you can justify a K-7

09-06-2009, 02:42 AM   #9
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Sounds like mutilple exposures and a bit PP to merge 'em, enjoy.
09-06-2009, 08:47 AM   #10
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Great walkthrough, SOldBear... someone using spot metering... like home-made macaroni and cheese... smooth.

You got some great advice. I'm curious why you're opposed to post processing. It's not a gimmick if it overcomes the technical problems of 5+ stops of dynamic range. If this is a serious shoot, take multiple exposures from the same spot (tripod would be the best choice) and then either PP to bring down the highlights or simply merge multiple shots using Photoshop. It's much easier than trying to fudge a single exposure to get the perfect pic. You can probably tweak a LOT of range out of a RAW image if you expose a bit to the right (meter a bit more for the wheels than the car) as long as you're not blowing out the highlights completely. If you are, scrap this approach and simply expose for the car and stamp in the wheels from a different frame where you've exposed for the wheels (has to be from exactly the same framing, however, so use a tripod).
09-06-2009, 11:28 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rich_A Quote
Great walkthrough, SOldBear... someone using spot metering... like home-made macaroni and cheese... smooth.

You got some great advice. I'm curious why you're opposed to post processing. It's not a gimmick if it overcomes the technical problems of 5+ stops of dynamic range.
Hey Rick,

Thanks for your comments.

But I'm not sure why you think I'm opposed to post processing. I was just saying that with the equipment at hand, there was no way to capture the whole dynamic range of the scene in one shot.

In fact, I'm for post processing. I mentioned the K-7 for its (post processing) HDR capability.
09-06-2009, 10:18 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by SOldBear Quote
Hey Rick,

Thanks for your comments.

But I'm not sure why you think I'm opposed to post processing. I was just saying that with the equipment at hand, there was no way to capture the whole dynamic range of the scene in one shot.

In fact, I'm for post processing. I mentioned the K-7 for its (post processing) HDR capability.
Oops, sorry about the confusion. My comment was actually meant for the original poster... I didn't mean for it to sound like I was replying to you. I should have made it more explicit in my response. Your advice was spot on, I was actually in complete agreement.
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