Flashes in the mirror are more annoying than they appear.
We decided we needed a mascot on our Worldesigns Photo Costa Rica Tours and the Red-eyed Green Tree Frog rose to the top of a list of likely contenders. Our goal was to photograph the small plush toy in a variety of Costa Rica locals for helping in the promotion of our tours.
On the first day out, I decided to do a little practice with my squeezable model. We placed Ronnie (from la rana or Spanish for Frog) on top of our rear-view mirror and he accompanied us though out Costa Rica. During a stop-roadside to photograph a Monkey-Crossing Sign, I decided to snap a quick shot of Ronnie. I used a Canon G10 and half-pressed to meter on the outside-of-the-car area. Adjusted my flash power and captured the above image.
As you can see, the exposure is spot-on. Unfortunately the flash bounced right back at me making an ugly specular highlight. I need the flash inside the dark car so my only solution was to shift the camera’s point of view to the right so that the reflection of the flash firing would zip past me on my left.
You can see from the second image that camera movement of some six inches to the right eliminated the problem. The perspective of the outdoors background changed but the exposure and primary subject are much better represented.
This issue is not only a shooting-into-mirrors issue. It can happen with any light source on any shiny object in your scene. It might be sun on water or headlights on a wet road or flash onto chrome. In any case, playing those angles to your advantage can reduce the chance of a specular highlight creeping or bursting into your image. There are few things worse than that bright light coming right back at you!
Sometimes it only takes six inches in one direction or another to eliminate a huge distraction and a messy cleanup in your image editing software later. That is what your LCD viewfinder and chimping are for: finding those things you can nuance and nuancing them in the next shot. (Is nuancing even a word?)
Till next time, right back at you.
Rikk Flohr © 2010