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Why you shouldn’t tape off 50/50 shots

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A very common and popular practice on social media is the picture of the 50/50 shot. This shows a very clear line that divides a fully polished section and an uncorrected section. This is done to demonstrate the difference you can get from a full correction.

Why do a 50/50

When showing the work you have done, it would help to be able to show a picture of before and after. A picture that shows the paint before you’ve done anything with it, and the paintwork after you’ve done your job. A 50/50 shot is 1 photo that shows both uncorrected and fully corrected paintwork next to each other. This makes it very easy for the viewer to see the difference and to understand how much work has been put into it.

The downside of a 50/50

The effect from polishing after taping off for a 50/50 shot
The effect from polishing after taping off for a 50/50 shot

When doing a 50/50 shot, it is fairly common to tape off one section. The tape gives you a very straight and obvious line between both sections, making the difference very visible. When you polish a surface, you remove a very fine layer from the surface. In fact, you try to remove as much of the material as the depth of the deepest scratch. Lets, for this article, say that the deepest scratch is 10 microns deep. Then you will try to remove 10 microns, which would result in a perfectly flat and smooth surface. If you tape off one section to make a 50/50 shot, you will have a very straight line with a height difference of 10 micron. There will be a height difference between these 2 parts.

When you are done with taking pictures, and you remove the tape to finish polishing the rest, you will go over the height difference. Either you will remove to little from the section that was taped over, causing the height difference to still be there. Or you will go over the line and polish away part of the section that was already polished, resulting in polishing away more then whats needed.

Either way, the end result will be a surface that is not completely level and smooth, since there will always be a height difference between section. By creating a nice picture to show the difference, you actually caused a new surface imperfection that is difficult to correct.

How to do a 50/50 shot correctly

Doing a 50/50 shot is not impossible, there are other ways that are safer for the paintwork and will still show off your work. There are a few safe ways that you can do.

The before and after

The before and after is a very common one, but can be a bit tricky to perfect. The best pictures are made when a camera is positioned on a safe spot and not moved during the process. If the camera hasn’t moved, it is easier to take 2 pictures from exactly the same angle. If you only work with artificial lighting, the light will be the same on both photo’s. You can either show these photo’s one after another, or use a image editor (like Photoshop) to put these images over each other.

The timelapse

If the camera is positioned in a place where it isn’t moved, you can set it up to make a timelapse video. The camera will take a picture every few seconds. The photo’s are then put behing each other like a video. The timelapse video will show the surface before correction, then you working on it, and then surface after correction. All of this in less then a minute.

The showcase

The showcase is a group of photo’s where several stages of the entire process are shown, this shows the before, the process itself and the result from the process. If the before and after pictures are from (almost) the same spot and angle, you should end up with a clear example of the result from your work.

Polishing without tape

When you polish a section of a panel, you can’t always do the entire panel in one pass. So you still do separate sections until you are done. If these sections slightly overlap, you can still show the difference between a section that you have done, and one section that you haven’t done. The only downside is that it won’t show a very straight defined line to show off the difference between both sections.

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