1014: Car Problems
Title text: Or if you replace your car, we'll be happy to set it on fire again so you can take another crack at getting that shot.
Megan's car appears to have combusted at some point while she left it unattended. Suspecting her friends and acquaintances Cueball, Black Hat and Danish of perhaps having something to do with it, she gathers them in front of a couch and draws attention to the fact that something is just a little bit wrong with the two juxtaposed images she shows them. When she asks What is wrong with this picture, they all three take this question literally and start critiquing the picture quality, and not the subject, feigning complete ignorance about the car being on fire. When Megan exasperatedly tells them what is wrong with the picture —that her car is on fire!— they continue to act evasive by telling her that she should buy a better camera. But at least here they acknowledge that the car is on fire, as they suggest she uses the insurance money (from the car) to buy this better camera.
The title text and the dialogue suggest that Megan's friends aren't being evasive to avoid telling her the truth, they are just doing exactly what they were told. They patiently and correctly describe what is wrong with the picture. If Megan had wanted to know what was wrong with her car, then she should have asked that directly. Her friends are just being friendly when they offer to help her create the scene [again] so that she can shoot the picture correctly. And the "again" proves that they did set the car on fire, and they are not trying to deny this. But for sure they are messing with her, both by setting her car on fire, deliberately understanding her question in another way than she intended, and then even suggesting that they will set her new car on fire as well.
As for the particular details of the digital photography terms mentioned:
- White balance: Artificial indoor light is more yellow, outdoor light is more blue. The light color can also depend on weather or time of day. The human eye is a very good judge of whiteness under a variety of lighting conditions, digital cameras often have difficulty automatically correcting for this which can cause images to look too blue or orange. Professional cameras and image editing software allow you to adjust the white balance manually, which Megan probably has not done.
- Focus is a bit too close: As light passes through a camera lens, it is bent until the rays converge on the film or sensor. If the focus is too close, it implies that point of convergence from the light of the subject is slightly in front of the sensor (i.e. that Megan has accidentally focused on something closer than the car). This will result in near objects being (too) sharp, and the car being slightly blurry.
- Chromatic aberration: This causes colored artifacts in an image, typically caused by cheap lenses, which do not focus light of different wavelengths (and thus different colors) in the same way. It is usually visible as a blueish or reddish outline around objects.
- It was mentioned again much later in 1791: Telescopes: Refractor vs Reflector, but here it actually has something to do with the subject of the comic...
- Megapixels: This is the number of image sensor elements of digital cameras or the pixels on digital displays. More pixels improve the resolution but can also result in less overall quality for the pictures, due in part to the reduced size of each pixel sensor (because the total sensor size is typically the same for a given class of camera), and because for consumer-targeted products the total engineering budget is limited, so that extra money spent on a high megapixel sensor ends up reducing the money spent on other elements such as the lenses.
While this comic focuses on misunderstandings by people viewing pictures this could be also a reference to the battery fire in a stored, damaged Chevrolet Volt automobile. During a side-impact safety test, which the car passed with a five star rating at Popular Mechanics, its high voltage battery pack was damaged. Part of the test procedure includes rolling the vehicle over after the impact to check for leaking fluids; during the rollover check, the vehicle electronics were flooded with coolant. The damaged vehicle was then put into storage where its high voltage battery remained energized; three weeks later the battery spontaneously caught fire, potentially due to corrosion, and destroyed the car. GM subsequently made design changes to address the causes of the fire.
Megan's car also caught fire in 1693: Oxidation, but this time she knew for sure who did it, so no direct relation to this comic, except the poor luck Megan has with her cars.
- [Megan stands in front of a projection on a screen and points with a stick to the picture shown of a blue car with yellow head lights standing on a gray road with green grass behind. She has an audience consisting of Cueball standing in front of Black Hat who is sitting and leaning back in a chair and Danish standing behind him.]
- Megan: Attention, please.
- Megan: This is a photo of my car as of two weeks ago.
- [Zoom in on Megan only, still in front of the screen, but pointing on a new projection of the same car engulfed in red and yellow flames, with lots of black smoke above the flames.]
- Megan: And this is my car as I found it this morning.
- Megan: Can anyone tell me what's wrong with this picture?
- [Zoom in on her audience who all ponders, Cueball with a hand on his chin, Black Hat sitting up straight and Danish scratching the back of her head.]
- [Zoom out to all four in a frame-less panel, seen from the side so the screen with the color picture is seen almost from the side. It is possible to see that there is colors on the screen but not what the picture looks like. All three respond to Megan, who is standing with her pointer down; Cueball now has his hands down, Black Hat still sits straight, and Danish now has a hand to her chin.]
- Cueball: The white balance, for one.
- Danish: Focus is a bit too close.
- Black Hat: The chromatic aberration suggests you bought your camera because it had "The most megapixels".
- [Zoom in on Megan only, who violently swishes her pointing stick up towards the screen behind her (off panel). The other three are outside the panel to the right, and two of them makes comments. It is not possible to say which of the three speaks.]
- Megan: The car is on fire!
- Off panel voice 1: Maybe you should use the insurance money to get a better camera.
- Off panel voice 2: Yeah.
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