If you see a beat photographer toting an SLR, seemingly overdoing it with mainstay smartphones these days already featuring excellent camera optics and sensors, just remember: bringing the gear is merely incidental to him insisting on having traditional options.  

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Case in point: this photo of Honda’s versatile Mobilio, the surprisingly flexible yet compact seven-seat MPV that’s a hair shorter than their popular sub-compact sedan, the City.

To depict the elegance of the Mobilio’s fluid yet compact form encasing its surprising utility, it was important to capture its proportions authentically.  And that, to steer clear of distorting wide-angle optics, takes a far shot pulled in with long glass.  This photo was taken from across a wide, four-lane road, through a middlin’ long 100mm lens on a full-frame SLR.

And, to let the softness of her pearl white paint come through amidst the peeking dusk, the trees left as they were in cool dark shade to offer framing contrast, manual controls were needed to decouple metering from the focusing process.  For this exposure, I chose to spot-meter on whatever midtone was available (not the asphalt which was already in twilight) and still not take the measurement as gospel truth but as mere guide to set the shutter speed manually.   If I had gone with stock metering options, like center-weighted or evaluative, the result would have been the kind of overexposure that could burn all contour off the Mobilio’s faceted fuselage.

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Instead of dismissing the photo as a black-box SLR’s accomplishment (a contradiction, yes, since men accomplish, gear do not), think of it as a study in focal length selection and brazenly overridden exposure settings–the stuff that’s possible with modular and manual equipment that gets out of your way.

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