Why does some of my image flash in the LCD? :: Digital Photo Secrets

Why does some of my image flash in the LCD?

by David Peterson 8 comments

Have you ever found yourself looking through your photos on your camera’s LCD, only to find certain parts flashing white? A lot of people wonder what’s going on and whether there is something wrong with their camera. Well, don’t worry. Everything is fine. What you’re looking at is known as “highlight mode,” and it can give you some insight into the photo you’ve just taken. In this article, I’ll show you how to use highlight mode to take better pictures.

What does highlight mode do?

Highlight mode was designed to show you which parts of your image are too bright. If you take a second look at your LCD, you’ll notice that the flashing only occurs on parts of the image that are completely white and never anywhere else. Your camera is telling you that these areas, when viewed on your computer, won’t have any detail in them. To correct this problem, you’ll need to do a number of things.


The sun reflection in this image would flash if it were on your LCD

Highlight mode is useful for identifying glare and reflections that can sometimes ruin an image. A good example is the glare reflecting off of a car. Everything else in your image might be perfectly balanced between light and dark, except for the shiny white piece of the hood in front of you. In this case, simply increasing the shutter speed or closing off the aperture won’t do much. You can’t even use a polarizing filter. It may cut out some of the glare, but it won’t get rid of the highly intense glare that reflects off of cars.

Your best option is to reframe the photo to get the intense reflection out of the shot. That might mean getting lower to the ground so the sun’s light doesn’t reflect back at you. It could even mean waiting until the sun goes down a little further, thus reducing the intensity of the glare. Either way, you have a very handy tool on your camera’s LCD. With highlight mode, you’ll know exactly which parts have too much glare and which ones don’t.

Some ways to handle glare

Not all shooting situations are the same. Depending on your situation, these may or may not work.

  • Use a polarizing filter. This is best for the kind of glare that reflects off of the water at sunset. If the glare you’re facing isn’t very focused or intense, this method will probably work.
  • Increase your shutter speed. Sometimes you get glare because your entire image is too bright. In that case, simply increase the shutter speed and everything will look normal.
  • Re-frame / re-compose the shot. Just don’t shoot the overly bright spot. Move your camera so the bright spot is out of the frame. This may require creative sacrifices. It’s up to you to decide whether they’re worth making.
  • Wait until the light changes. Glare tends to be very intense in the middle of the day when the sun is at its brightest. If you wait until twilight, it gets much better.
  • Make peace and move on. A little bit of glare never hurt anyone. As long it doesn’t take over the majority of your image, you’ll probably be fine. Overexposure is often in the eye of the beholder.

The next time you see flashing pieces of your image on the LCD, don’t despair. That’s your camera trying to help you take better photos. Highlight mode identifies the overly bright spots on your image so you can take a more even exposure.

If you have any questions about highlight mode (maybe you’re having difficulty finding it?), just send me an email or leave a comment below. I’m more than happy to help you out.

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Comments

  1. Edward says:

    Hi David,
    Where do i find the highlight mode on my camera? If this will help you i use a Canon 500D.

    Thanks,
    Edward

    • David Peterson says:

      Hi Edward,

      For Canon cameras, go into preview (the "play" looking button") and press display/info once, the camera should show the file number. Press it again and you will see a light histogram and blown out parts will blink. That's highlight mode.

      I hope that helps.

      David.

  2. fred taylor says:

    you talked about a canon or nikon lens 18-200 f.4 does either company make such a lens

  3. David Peterson says:

    @Ginger,

    I'm not exactly sure where it is on your model, but on my D3000, I need to turn on Display Mode from the Playback Menu and then for each shot, press the multi-selector up or down to switch modes.

    David.

  4. cheryl a williams says:

    I love all the tips that r given
    Iwas wondering where that came from
    Thanks for the warning
    Cheryl-

  5. Ginger says:

    I have a Nikon D5100 and I was wondering where I would find this Highlight mode on this camera?

  6. Marcos Levin says:

    thank you so much for your intrucions!
    best wishes
    Marcos

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Difficulty:
Beginner
Length:
5 minutes
About David Peterson
David Peterson is the creator of Digital Photo Secrets, and the Photography Dash and loves teaching photography to fellow photographers all around the world. You can follow him on Twitter at @dphotosecrets or on Google+.