There is nothing quite like excellent advice. And that’s exactly what I got when I was browsing through the articles over at AllAboutWindowsPhone.com a couple of weeks ago. Steve Litchfield, AAWP’s editor, posted a superb article, describing how not to end up with shots with over-exposed areas when you choose to simply rely on the Lumia 1020’s own Auto settings. As Steve points out in several examples, if you simply point and shoot, the camera software will choose to adjust the focus for the centre spot in the frame, but also, unbeknownst to me, would also set the exposure.
Now, I am a big fan of Steve and his excellent work over on AllAboutSymbian and AllAboutWindowsPhone, and after having met him a few times and discussed ‘all things Nokia’ over a pint or two, I trust his judgement and his advice. And this was no exception, but I hadn’t actually had the need or opportunity to try it out, until the other day.
I live in New York City, and an after-work stroll through Central Park often dishes up some great photo moments, and I am always carrying around my trusty Lumia 1020, all ready to shoot some pretty scenes in PureView glory. As it happens, I was strolling around one of the boating lakes and I thought, “Oh yes, now that looks lovely. Time for a photo.”
But when I looked at the screen to see the photo I’d taken, I wasn’t that impressed. Surely my Lumia 1020, the 41MP imaging beast, could do better than that?!
But then it dawned on me, and I heard Steve’s voice somewhere in my head… “Tap the screen to set exposure!” he said to me in one of those faux-scary voices that reminded me of a ghost in ‘A Christmas Carol’. Sorry, Steve, but you get what I mean! ;^)
The first shot was not a good one, and just as Steve had pointed out in his own examples, the lovely evening sky was blown out to a garish white. What had happened? Well, on closer inspection, it was quite simple to answer that one: the camera software and algorithms etc. had chosen to bring the reeds and plants into priority in the frame, and in order to do that, it needed to over-expose the rest of the image. Hmm, kind of smart, except I didn’t want the plants as the main subject in my composition.
So, after having learned this trick from Steve’s article, I put it to a real-word test, and I held the 1020 up for a second time, framing the image almost exactly as I had done before, but this time I tapped the screen on the tall building in the distance, and then I hit the shutter button.
The result was massively improved over my first “Auto” attempt! Super blue sky retained, and with a lower exposure now implemented, the buildings in the background offered up more detail themselves. The foreground was now under-exposed, but I didn’t mind that because I wanted to eventually “Reframe” the shot anyway and zoom in on the buildings themselves, so this was definitely the way to go.
On closer inspection, I should have attempted the photo again, because the camera had still put the plants in the sharpest focus and the buildings are ever-so-slightly out of focus and a tiny bit soft, for my liking. Maybe I’ll go back and redo it!
All in all, a great experience that I am now taking with me as I continue to shoot photos with this great Nokia device. Thanks for the advice, Steve! I couldn’t have done it without ya! :^)
PS While we’re looking at a shot, might as well throw in the amazing detail of the crane miles away on the top of that building. And that isn’t even from the full-res photo, but the 5mp sharable one! And it’s here you can see the crane is blurry – from experience of using this device, I know it can do better than that!
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