I admit it; I'm a gear head. I love my photography equipment, or course, but I'm also rather fond of my smart phone, my personal computer, and the other sundry electronic gizmos and gadgets scattered throughout my house. I don't think I'm alone in this regard. Do a search in Google images or Flickr on the term "iPhone" or "Nexus" and you'll find thousands and thousands of images taken by photographers of every level of expertise. Some of these images are quite remarkable and could easily stand in for the press photos distributed by Apple or Samsung. Others are…well...somewhat less remarkable. A particular problem with many of these photos arises from poorly balanced exposure; either the subject's screen appears dim and washed out or the screen is bright but everything else in the photo is too dark.
In this post I'll discuss an approach to lighting and photographing gadgets with backlit displays using a DSLR (or any camera with manual shutter/aperture controls), a tripod and a flash. While the focus of this post is somewhat specialized, it also serves to illustrate a much broader and incredibly useful photographic technique -- balancing exposure from flash and continuous light sources. I'll return to this broader issue many times in future posts.