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John Paul Cook

Photographing a whiteboard

Yesterday Louis posted here about physical database creation basics. Often the database model begins on a whiteboard. It’s increasingly common for people to use a phone to photograph a whiteboard. The photographic quality leaves much to be desired at times.

Whiteboards are a challenge to photograph because they are so white, so bright. A camera’s light meter doesn’t know if if it is measuring a brightly lit black object or a dimly lit white object. Objects that are photographed are pushed toward being rendered with an in-between brightness. The history of photographic light metering is based on properly rendering a medium gray tone, which is why whiteboards tend to photograph as gray instead of white.

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Entity relationship diagram photograph without exposure compensation on the left and with exposure compensation on the right.

There are some simple things you can do to get better pictures of whiteboards:

1. If you have easy access to the exposure compensation settings, set the phone or camera to +2 to overexpose the photo. Overexposing will shift the whiteboard from medium gray toward white.

2. If the phone or camera has a setting for taking pictures of outdoor snow scenes, use that setting. From a contrast perspective, a whiteboard is quite similar to an outdoor picture taken of a snow covered scene.

3. If there is enough available light, turn off the flash. If there isn’t enough light and you must use the flash, hold the camera slightly at an angle instead of directly in front of the whiteboard. This will reduce the glare from the flash.

4. Use the Microsoft Office Picture Manager (found under Office Tools) to adjust the midtones. Click Edit Pictures on the main toolbar, then click Brightness and Contrast. Use the slider bar to adjust the midtones.

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Published Sunday, April 17, 2011 9:54 PM by John Paul Cook

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About John Paul Cook

John Paul Cook is a Technology Solutions Professional for Microsoft's data platform and works out of Microsoft's Houston office. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. He is experienced in Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle database application design, development, and implementation. He has spoken at many conferences including Microsoft TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit. He has worked in oil and gas, financial, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. John is also a Registered Nurse who graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Master of Science in Nursing Informatics and is an active member of the Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society. He volunteers as a nurse at safety net clinics. Contributing author to SQL Server MVP Deep Dives and SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2.

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