Below are two photos of the same object, taken in the same location with the same lighting and same camera, only a few seconds apart. The only things that have changed are the position of the object and the zoom of the camera (position of the camera was not changed, save to move it back about an inch for the second photo). enter image description hereenter image description here

As you can see, the first picture looks bright and sharp, with a nice clean white background. The second picture looks dark and gray, even though the location and lighting is exactly the same. The flash is off.

What is causing this?

Some notes: I'm not a professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination, and I'm not using a high end camera. I am taking the pictures in a portable lightbox, using two lamps for lighting. One is outside the box and diffusing its light through the wall, the other one is in the front shining directly on the object. There is daylight coming through a window behind and to the left of the lightbox (which I realize isn't ideal). I was able to increase the brightness and contrast of the second image in Photoshop and make it look more or less fine, but I'd still like to know if there's something I can do on the camera end of things.

This is my first question here, so if it's not on topic, I apologize and just let me know. Thank you for your time!

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ How are aperture, shutter time, and ISO being selected? Manually by you or automatically by the camera? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Um... I don't know. Like I said, I'm far from a professional photographer, so I don't know what those terms are, much less how to control them. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would suggest learning the basic exposure triangle. \$\endgroup\$
    – Janardan S
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


It appears you are using an automatic exposure mode that lets the camera select the shutter time, aperture setting, and ISO setting.

When the DVD case is open the amount of black is making the camera think the scene is darker than when only the outside of the case is in view and more of the white backdrop is showing.

The camera thinks everything should be medium gray unless you tell it differently. When it sees black it will try to increase exposure to make it gray. When it sees white it will try to decrease the exposure to make it gray.

If your camera allows, set the same aperture, shutter, and ISO that the camera used for the shot with the case open and take the second shot using those settings. The exposure of the second shot should then match the exposure of the first one.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Alternatively, nearly all cameras allow to change exposure compensation (offten called EV), try to dial in some positive value if the photo comes out too dark. \$\endgroup\$
    – ths
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 19:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was able to locate the ISO value which was set on auto, and change it to a set value. I have also located the shutter speed and aperture values, but can't find anyway of editing them. The problem appears to be with the shutter speed, as the aperture remains the same in both shots. Based on what you told me, I was able to 'fake out' the camera by making sure the edge of the lightbox wasn't in the picture. That seems to darken it. I'll keep looking for a way to change the shutter speed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Am I aiming for a faster shutter speed or slower? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 19:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ It turns out that I can only change the shutter speed in a different mode made for shooting outdoors, and the result is a white screen. BUT, I now know how to determine the shutter speed, and should be able to avoid gray photos in the future. Thanks for your help! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 19:33

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