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How to Photograph an Image on a TV

How to Photograph an Image on a TV

“How do I take a photograph of my TV screen without getting the black stripe across the shot?” – Brad

Thanks for the question Brad. Taking photographs of your television while it’s on isn’t too difficult and because you’re shooting in digital it should be something that you can get right with a little experimentation (keep taking shots until you get it right – it won’t cost you anything but a little time).

The major factor that you’ll need to consider is what type of TV screen that you have. If you have an older CRT screen it’s a slightly different ball game to if you have a newer flat panel screen.

CRT Televisions

All televisions have what is called a ‘refresh rate’ (or the rate at which the screen replaces images on the screen pixel by pixel each second to make it a moving image). With older CRT screens this refresh rate is 24 times per second (on newer screens this rate is faster). As a result you’ll need to choose a slower shutter speed when photographing a CRV TV. Otherwise you’ll get a shot with a black band across the TV (as pictured) – something that is often referred to as ‘banding’.

With a CRT TV you’ll probably need a shutter speed of 1/25 second or slower. As a result of this you’ll also need to have a tripod to keep your camera secure and you’ll want the image on the screen to be a fairly still or slow moving one (or you’ll get movement blur). To select this slower shutter speed switch your camera to shutter priority mode and the camera will select an appropriate aperture to get a well exposed shot.

Newer Televisions

How to Photograph an Image on a TV

As I mention above, newer screens have a faster refresh rate and will allow you to use a faster shutter speed. This will vary a little between screens so you’ll want to experiment a little. To do this, switch to shutter priority mode and try some different shutter speeds (you’ll probably be able to get reasonable shots at 1/125 or even 1/250 depending upon your screen). As a result of this faster shutter speed you’ll be able to capture faster moving images (but still not anything that is too fast like sports).

Lastly – keep in mind two more things which apply to both types of screens:

1. Sharpness – taking a photo of the image on your TV will result in a fairly un-sharp image – even on newer TV’s. The quality is never likely to be high.

2. Color – the light coming from your TV is not likely to be accurate when captured by your camera and you’ll probably need to do some adjusting either in post production or by changing the white balance settings in your camera before shooting.

Keep in mind that your settings will vary from television to television so keep experimenting to get the best results you can.

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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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