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Photographing walls???

Fri May 16, 2008 6:44 am

Strange idea perhaps but what I want to do is be able to photograph the color scheme in houses. I tried it at my mother-in-law's house but the light washes out the colors. I have used my lens hood, but walls come out way lighter, and the beige in the carpet turns out white. I was using Auto but any suggestions?

Here are what I can use, and I can change the ISO from 80 > 1600

To the right of the hot shoe is the mode dial, which has the following options:

Option Function
Auto mode Fully automatic, many menu options locked up.
Program mode Still automatic but with full menu access; a Program Shift features lets you use the command dial to choose from several aperture/shutter speed combos available

Shutter priority mode You choose the shutter speed and the camera picks the right aperture; choose from a range of 4 - 1/4000 sec; do note that 1/4000 sec is only available at the wide-angle position

Aperture priority mode You select the aperture and the camera uses the proper shutter speed; aperture range is F2.8 - F8
Full manual (M) mode You can choose both the aperture and the shutter speed; shutter speed range expands to 30 - 1/4000 sec while the aperture range is the same as before; a bulb mode allows you to keep the shutter open for as long as the shutter release button is pressed (30 sec max)

Movie mode More on this later

Night Scene modes



Natural Light See below


Re: Photographing walls???

Fri May 16, 2008 10:02 am

O.K...As you are probably aware by now the problem with digital is the same problem that photographers have with transparency films. That is that both digital and transparency films are less forgiving of over exposure than they are of underexposure...once you have blown the highlight values with either, you probably will not be able to recover them.

In recognition of that, the answer is to slightly underexpose to achieve saturated colors. In transparency films it is common practice to rate a ISO 64 film as ISO 80 (about 1/3 stop less exposure). The question that you have is how to best accomplish that with your equipment. Any of the automatic or program methods will not work because as you change the ISO setting of the camera, the camera will compensate to arrive at the same EV (exposure value) that any of the other ISO settings would give you.

The answer is to shoot totally manually. I don't know what features your camera has...if it has a light meter to use when you shoot manually, you would set the manual exposure to give about 1/3 stop less exposure than what the camera would recommend. If you have a histogram on your camera, pay attention to the right side of the histogram to stay away from any clipping of highlight values.

I hope that this helps.

Best regards,

Re: Photographing walls???

Fri May 16, 2008 10:51 am

Hi Jan,

Don is right. Instead of using manual mode though, chances are your camera has a way to under/overexpose a photo. On my Nikon D70 there is a little +/- button. When I hold it down and rotate the wheel, I see it go for 0 to 1/3, 2/3, 1 or -1/3, -2/3, -1, depending on which way I move the wheel.

Put your camera on a tripod and take multiple photos at different settings. This is called bracketing. In Photoshop, you can put all the pictures into one document with each photo on a different layer. Then using masking you can hide/expose different parts of the pictures to give you one picture that is exposed correctly everywhere. I believe they call this HDR or something.

This is alot of fun to do. I have also done it with a person in the picture, but in a different location in each picture. Then you can make a picture with the same person in multiple locations. Not what you're looking for right now but you never know!

Have a great weekend!!


Re: Photographing walls???

Fri May 16, 2008 12:57 pm

Thanks guys!!! I do have bracketing but will look into all the things you mentioned. I want to able to use thepics as a color pallette when I am designing a custom print for client to match their room......have a fabulous weekend!! Cheers Jan

Re: Photographing walls???

Fri May 16, 2008 1:59 pm

Jan -- my first solution would be to use a so-called photo gray card to read the exposure and then go full manual at that or set the exposure while in auto but with the gray card, remove the card but keep the AutoExposure Lock on. If that still gives under/over then go down a series of partial stops in manual to see what gives the "right" look. Lacking the gray card, I'd just go full manual starting with what auto would use and step down until it's "right".

Oh, and you may need to adjust the whitebalance maybe even with a custom setting (shooting a white card held on the wall to calibrate the lighting).

The nice thing is that you can see the results right away and no wasted film!


Re: Photographing walls???

Fri May 16, 2008 3:36 pm

Great tips Dick, thanks!!! I need to get the manual for my camera out. It is (was) a high end DSLR wannabe so it has a lot of bells and whistles. Cheers, off for the week end. Hugs Jan

Re: Photographing walls???

Fri May 16, 2008 6:58 pm


Basically you have the same camera I do. The differences between the 9100 and 9000 aren't enough to matter, especially here. Personally, I like it a lot. I know it's limitations vs. a DSLR but some of the limitations are also what lead to it's advantages like cost, weight and bulk.

Remember the notes about taking shots at the beach or an area that's snow covered? The auto sensor is fooled by all the same thing in the frame because that doesn't match 99% of pictures and, therefore, how it's firmware is set up. Something of the same applies here, I suspect--the large wall area(s) are too far out of the norm for the auto exposure to handle well. The trick is to force the camera to "see" something it can better handle.


Re: Photographing walls???

Mon May 19, 2008 11:32 pm


Don is right about the histogram. Learn to use it and you will master exposure. I used a handheld spotmeter for 25 years until digital came along. The histogram is all I need now. Make sure your values do not go off the right side except for specular highlights like the sun. The different types of metering (spot, matrix) will give very different results. Matrix measures everything and gives a very accurate reading. Spot meter a dark shadow and it will say you are severely underexposed. Spot meter a bright highlight and it will say you are way overexposed. That's because all meters are calibrated to an 18 percent gray card reading. Spot meters are great once you learn how to interpret them.

If you want total control you need to be shooting in Raw mode but if you don't have the time to do the post processing then you need to learn the limitations of jpg's. Everything is set in the camera when shooting jpg's (contrast, saturation, etc.). It cannot be altered after the fact. All those settings in Raw mode are decided in post processing. You can even be overexposed when shooting Raw and recover your clipped highlights to a certain degree. Not possible in jpg.

If you are seeking the accuracy of color chips in a paint store then you are in for a world of frustration. Have you ever noticed how different the same color chip looks in different lighting (inside the store, outside the store, in your house). Every time you change the color temperature of your light source your subject reflects those differences.

But the #1 key is exposure. Blow it and nothing else matters. Nail it and you're 2/3 the way home.

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