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Oddly enough, one of the most difficult things you can possibly take a picture of is a computer setup. I wrote this mini-guide for a Norwegian magazine about digital cameras (www.digitalkamera.no) a while back. Enjoy!

The problem

It`s always difficult to take pictures of things emitting light, because the cameras light meter doesn`t realise what is going on. This obviously includes computers, because the screens emit light.

Normally, when you take pictures of computers, either the screen is correctly exposed (but looks like crap) and the rest of the image is underexposed.

If you take the picture with a flash, you get the problem that the flash reflects in the monitor, for one thing, and it also uses shutter times between 1/60 and 1/200 second. This is a problem, because monitors update at 1/75 hz or similar, giving strange results. Read more about this in how to take pictures of monitors

The solution.

What you want to do, then, is to split the process in two; Put your camera on a tripod, and turn on as much light as possible in the room. Turn the monitor off. Then, take a picture of the computer setup (don`t use flash!), and make sure that the exposure is correct. If it isn`t, use exposure compensation (EV compensation) to get a correct exposure. If you don`t take the picture with a digital camera, you might want to use AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing)

Then, take a picture of the monitor (see how to take pictures of monitors), with all the light in the room turned off. When this is done, you will want to edit the two pictures into one, using Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, Gimp, or a similar photo editing package.

Because the two shots were taken with the cam in the same position (on the tripod) editing the shots together should be no problem. Just paste the screen contents of one shot onto the computer monitor of the other shot. Then darken the screen enough to make it look natural.

Voila - you have a perfect picture of your beloved computer, with a picture of your choice on the screen.

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