A few months ago—if you’d suggested that I wanted to create stark, strong light and shadows—I’d have laughed at you…! Which just goes to show how quickly we change and adapt as we learn or are exposed to new things! First experimented with a snoot in assignment 3. The images below are very definitely Mapplethorpe inspired—but there is also a bit of Testino—and the cover image from Plan B’s ‘Defamation of Strickland Banks’. And it’s an idea I see myself developing for assignment 4.
Had my eye on a small spot for the assignment on light—but the cost of hardware failure has put paid to that—but I have cunning plans—using cut of black tights—no idea if it will work—but we will see when we get to the assignment. In the images below, there is only one light—the top light on a snoot with the grid removed—that was making the edges of the shadow softer. [Will understand why one day.] In the assignment, I am hoping to use three to create the sort of cross-shadow effects in the Testino link above.
In the images above, the snoot was placed above the flower—which was secured by a plamp—and was shone down onto to to create the pool of light and shadow on the foam core. The coloured backgrounds were created by shining a second light through a coloured gel onto a dark grey background. [The pain of the procedure fully documented in assignment 3!]Read More »
Using reflectors—homemade and store bought—to manage contrast and filling shadows in our images. Really wanted to try and continue doing a ‘rembrandt'; but read the instructions properly and the camera had to be at right angles to the light; which had to be level. So, gave it a miss this time.
Nothing much has changed. Hayley is still sitting on the black foam-core; I’m still using the 70cm soft box with supplied diffuser attached—when required. And the camera is still on the tripod, 85mm lens, f/9.0, ISO 50; but we made a change and went to 1/200 sec. And I’m still shooting tethered; and without hiccups! Using LiveView and manual focus because I have the room as dark as possible; and then I cannot see to focus.
image 1: bare-bulb
This image required the removal of the diffuser—which would then make the light ‘smaller’ again. Also knew from a couple of exercises ago that I would have to reduce the power on the battery pack as it was still set to provide light at a level when the diffusers were in place. Took a couple of test shots, each time reducing the power until I eliminated the red highlights in the histogram in Lightroom. Without the diffuser, the light is a lot harder and the edge of the shadow is much more defined than it would be if there was a diffuser in place. It’s really clear along the edge of her nose where the light drops away sharply into shadow. The portrait photography book I mentioned in my previous post talks about the Light Dynamic Edge and how that shows what sort of light was used; and at what position it was placed. There is also a little ‘bounced light’ on the unlit edge of her face—her eye is slightly more visible than the image that follows this one where the diffuser is in place.
image 2: diffusers back in place on softbox
With the two diffusers—inner baffle and front piece—back in place, I had to bump up the power on the battery pack quite significantly. In a previous exercise on softening the light, I was only bumping the light up just over half a stop when I went from bare-bulb to double-diffusion, but this time it was closer to a stop. Was that because the light was further away in this example? The addition of the diffusion has softened the light and the transition between shadow and light areas has become greater—very noticeable along the nose and on the neck. [What concerns me here is that there is also a slight change in colour—camera was on Auto WB and nothing was changed in post, so not sure why this has happened? Must remember to use my digi passport to check all this.
image 3: white foam-core at 3 feet
At three feet away, the white foam-core has reflected some light into the unlit side of the face—but not that much of a difference. In LR, I can also see that the lit side of Hayley is also slightly lighter. Does the light bounce from the softbox onto the foam-core, then bounce back onto the front of the softbox and back onto Hayley?
image 4: white foam-core at just over a foot away
With the foam-core at just over a foot away from Hayley, there is now a slightly more noticeable fill on the unlit side of her face. . Unlike in the previous shot, where I questioned why the lit side of Hayley looked lighter with the foam-core in place, there has been no change in the light on that side from the previous image to this one. [Find it frustrating that I can see the difference quite clearly in Lightroom; but here in WordPress, it does not seem that visible. Have been back and double-checked several times that I have the correct files in the correct place.]
image 5: dull side of foil
The use of the dull side of the silver foil makes a marked difference from just the white foam-core. The transition from shadow to light is now far softer and more gradual. The defining line from the bare-bulb image has just about gone. The outline of her face is now visible; and there is a highlight on the cheekbone and above the eye socket—the place where girls would put a highlighter to accentuate bone structure. It is also slightly lighter in the area underneath her arm
image 6: shiny side of foil
Switching to the shiny side of the foil throws even more light into the darker side of her face; and there is what I would call a ‘specular’ highlight on the brow – and cheekbone’ Her nose is also more defined with the light coming in on the side of it. The light hits the shiny foil and bounces straight back onto the side of the face.
image 7: crumpled foil
This is the most pleasing image in my opinion. The sharp highlights from the previous image have disappeared and the light is more evenly spread into the darker side of the face. It is also less contrasty. As far as my knowledge at this stage goes, I would say that because the foil is now crumpled, this has the effect of dispersing the light in different directions—as opposed to the smooth shiny foil, where it hit the folk and just bounced back in the opposite straight direction—because light goes in straight lines. So when it hits the crumpled foil; light hitting all ‘sides’ of the crumple, bounce off in the opposite direction to which they hit the foil. Thus scattering and filling more. Does that make sense?
I was always going to like the less contrasty image. It’s something that I am trying to get over; but I do find it hard to do. A while back, I posted about shadows and how I was beginning to like them, but I keep going back to the idea of ‘if there are shadows, then it’s not been lit properly'; which I know is wrong, that you use shadows to give contrast, show volume; that flat all-over lighting gives you a flat look. But it’s a hard habit to break. Have to light a person—well, there you go. Octabox in front and above, angled down 45 degrees; reflector below person’s face angled in and therefore filling the shadows—typical clamshell approach. It’s boring, blows away all shape and texture, and makes the person look pretty. Going to try so hard in my assignment to break that habit. That’s why the assignment is so important to me. [Postscript: Next exercise in coursework is concentrating light. I have already done that and posted it; but will edit the ‘post-date’ so that it follows this one.]
The purpose of this exercise was to investigate how the angle and position of the light will light the subject. We were required to produce a minimum of eleven images, showing how the position and angle would highlight different planes of the subject. Think that this is getting us ready for the shape and volume part of our assignment. There was no mention of texture in the object; and for the most part I left Hayley as an egg-head—the wig has seen better days.
I enjoyed the exercise—as I thought I would—and as per usual, took a few extra shots just to do my own little investigation. Reading a book called ‘The Portrait: Understanding Portrait Photography'; and they had a similar exercise, with a few more variations. Bought the book a while back—before I started this course; and attempted to read it—without too much success. This time it is making more sense; although it’s not all there yet.
And there is a particular light pattern that I have wanted to create for a while—this was the ideal chance—and I think I got it—not perfect—but it’s a start! [Cue big smile ,and whoop-whoop.]
Not much of a change from previous exercise. Still using Hayley, dark grey background, 85mm lens, iso 50, f/9.0, 1/160 sec; and 70cm soft box with standard diffuser on front—not the grid. I tried to keep the distance between subject and light pretty much the same because I know that will affect exposure—inverse square law and all that—but there were some variations because of space and moving the light around. Hayley placed on black foam-core to stop any light reflecting back up—something my tutor mentioned when he assessed my assignment 3 and I was battling with light bouncing.
In the first set of images, both the camera [on tripod] and the light [lightstand] were placed at the same level as Hayley, with the light being moved in a semi-circular arc from behind her, to in front of her. [BTW—am using clock-face to give an indication of the position of the light; with noon being the light behind her.]
image 1: lit from behind—12’o’clock
With this image, I placed the light directly behind Hayley. Although it does show the shape of the object—which is what I think was intended, the way the light wraps around her, also shows a bit of the ‘volume’ aspect—I think? Battled to get her face as dark as it is—I was staring in a black velvet coat, arms outstretched and head covered in an attempt to absorb as much of the light bouncing back as was possible. I do know that if I am every luck enough to have a real studio, I am going to paint the walls dark grey to limit the unwanted reflection of the light from the walls.
In the next exercise—where we have to do the contrast and shadow fill bit; I will try this again with a big reflector in front and see if I can bounce enough light in to ‘fill’ the face.
The instruction was to place the light behind and face it forward—which I have done—but think that if I lit the background with light—and she had none bouncing back—then I would have got a stronger silhouette?
image 2: lit from behind and to the side—1:30 [ish]Have moved the light slightly to the side, although still very much behind her. More detail in the 3-d bit is starting to show—the ears, cheekbones, the shoulder-bone and neck region. Also more definition on the chin/jawline. This is something I want to explore further in the assignment— a la Joel Grimes with his three light set-up where he places two lights behind on the side so that they glance the side of the face/shape. Whether I manage to pull it off is another question! As the image is above, it’s not satisfactory because too much of the left side of the image is too much in shadow—but happy that the background has now turned dark black.
image 3: lit from the side—3:00
Guessing this is sort off what they call split lighting—or would be closer if her face was= directly forward instead of being at a slight angle. The shape of her features is slightly more pronounced than in the previous—because there they are still very much an outline. If she had texture, I would expect it to show in this light angle—because it would give highlights and shadows to the texture. Interesting, moody, and maybe a little foreboding—’coming out of the shadows’—but does not appeal to me.
image 4: lit from the front and to the side—4:30[ish]This was one of the unrequested options, but included because I think it is getting closer to the angle that I might use for a portrait. The face is more lit on the other side—away from the light—with the highlight on the cheek and the shadow on that side of the nose, so there is some shape or volume evident. Aware from readings that having the light here, but at the same level as the subject is not what one would necessarily want to do in a portrait—and there is some fill required—but that’s in a later exercise.
[Also need to remind myself that at some stage I want to play with short and broad lighting on the face and see what it looks like.]
image 5: lit from the front—6 ‘o’clock
Here the light is as close to camera position as possible—was still working with a light stand—and not the boom as I was trying to avoid setting it up again. So the light is slightly to the side—evident because she still has a slight shadow on the nose and the check at camera-left is slightly darker. Can also tell that the light is slightly higher than the camera because she has shadow under the chin which is still giving some definition to her face. Unlike those shots from the passport booths where the straight on light can make your con disappear into your neck!
I know that front-on lighting is what they tend to use in beauty type shots because it eliminates or reduces the skin texture. But it would not be straight on like this—but at an angle—maybe like the 45 degree shot to come—and then a reflector as fill.
Here we were to repeat the previous images; but instead of the light being at the same level as the object; it needed to be lifted and then angled down at about 45 degrees.
image 1: lit from behind—12 ‘o’clockHad problems here with lens flare—top left hand corner—not sure if it is visible here? But is visible in the Raw in Lightroom. Did have the lens hood thingy that comes with the lens on—but that was not enough, and think that I would need some sort of flag to block the light? Not sure how that would be done—where exactly I would place it so that it was not in the frame, but would work effectively. Also had a huge blown-out highlight on the top of her head which I had to rectify slightly.
The way the light is falling on the back shoulder gives some feeling of volume—but it’s not a route I would follow for this type of subject without some form of fill for the front.
image 2: lit from behind and to the side—1:30 [ish]Doesn’t appeal—but this has to do with the subject that I have chosen—and I’ll talk more about that in my conclusion. But it does allow for slight modelling on the face with the nose and mouth in relief. And there is evidence of texture—the dust at the top of her head—which shows how long she has been sitting there waiting patiently for me to get on with these exercises!
image 3: lit from the side—3:00More of this split-lighting type effect and I can still see some of the texture in the dust on her head—but not as much as in the previous. Will have to have a play with the positioning of the light to show texture when I do the assignment—but definitely some sort of side-on angle is required.
image 4:This was my little whoop-whoop moment—the first time I have managed to get something like a Rembrandt effect. It’s not right—I think the light needs to be slightly further forward, and I was tempted to stop the exercise and sit and play for a couple of hours just to try and finesse it—but then I would have got side-tracked again. It is something that I will come back to in the future. Is spoilt by the reflective highlights—but maybe on a real person this would not be the case.
image 5: lit from the front—6 ‘o’clockSimilar to the lit from the front in the previous series above; but not as flat. There is more definition on the sides of the nose; and the shadow under the lips and below the chin are more defined and pronounced—a stronger jaw line? More of a ‘male’ shot?
Still the camera has not moved; but the light is suspended overhead—using boom with still wonky wheel. Three shots are to be taken—one slightly in front of Hayley; one above and one slightly behind. I anticipate that these would be the three that I liked the least—and I was right.
image 1: lit from above and from the front
Of the three images that are lit from above, I find this one the most acceptable in this situation—there is none of the ghoulish effects evident in the other two. But there’s nothing special about it—I think it would be very unlikely that I would opt to light this sort of subject straight from above. I know that in some of the images for assignment 3, I did this; but it was a different object and I wanted to get the texture at the top of the leaves. But even then, I found it gave me a better effect when I lit from above but angled the light slightly onto the subject. Think the only thing is is ‘good’ about this angle is the shadow under the jawbone which definitely keeps it separate from the body—even if it is a little too harsh for my liking.
Also the light seems very ‘flat’ on the face—not as much ‘shaping’ happening because of the direction of the light. Shadow on the neck under the chin is too far down, I think? And it emphasises the size of her ‘egg-head’.
image 2: lit from above
‘Ol racoon eyes’ is back! This is the typical shot that you would get on a sunny day at midday—not seen a sunny day lately—so this is definitely from memory. It affects the face in an unattractive way in that the eyes are shadowed by the eyebrow/head shape and so there is no detail there; and the highlight on the nose accentuates that feature. If this was a shot taken outdoors, I would need a huge diffusion sheet just out of view to try and soften that light.
image 3: lit from behind
Rather a menacing shot. Possibly with another subject this might be an option—but for a ‘face’ it is not very good at all. The nose once again catches the highlight and stands out; as do the ears. There is not much detail visible on the face. Again if I see this as an outdoor shot; would have needed a reflector in front to try and bounce light into the face. Very often this would be preferable—outdoor shot—because the light is not in the subject’s eyes and maybe the ‘backlighting’ would show off some nice texture around the edge of the hair. But with one light and no bounce, it’s not at all attractive.
Just a couple I did in an attempt to show texture. Both were lit from behind and to the side—1:30 [ish] with the light at the 45 degree angle.Did these at the same time as I did the other 45 degree lit from behind and to the side. Used foam-core as a fill which in real terms was not enough—need something more reflective. Also did some post in LR to increase the fill in the shadows. Happy that it does show texture—assignment 4 looms. Difference between the two is the positioning of the foam-core, with the foam-core much closer in the second one.
Interesting how the position of the light not only changed the modelling on Hayley, but also how it changed her ‘personality’ in that the darker ones were far more menacing. My favourite is going to be “lit from the front and to the side—4:30[ish] [45 degree light]”—the one where I got the dodgy Rembrandt because it was a personal achievement for me.
Realise that my choice of subject has also influenced my reactions to the lighting. My judgement of the lighting effects were different from that would have been on a totally inanimate object—you know what I mean. I make no apology for that, portraiture interests me—so working out what lighting patterns are effective on the human face becomes more important.
referencesRead More »
This exercise aims to illustrate the difference between hard [bare-bulb] and soft [diffused] light. In this course notes, there were instructions on how to make your own diffuser; but as I already have some studio equipment; I am going to go with what I have on hand—it will be useful for me to play around and get to know it a little better—especially when I don’t have the stresses of the assignment yet in the arena. Am aware that as we add the diffusion the light will become softer because we are creating a larger light source in relation to the subject. Also anticipate that as I add diffusion, I will have to adjust exposure accordingly, either by opening up aperture or by increasing the light source.
Although we only have to do two images here—one without diffusion and one with—there’s going to be a lot more. A while back, I stumbled across the work of Jonathan Stead, and although I admire much of his work, I was specifically drawn to ‘The Beauty of Confusion‘ series. I have dead roses—left over from assignment 3—and I have to play with light. So, my idea is that I am going to do my own private mini-series—and use the roses as the subject for a number of the exercises. This means that the exercises will not necessarily be done in the order that they are laid out in the coursework—I don’t want to move the flowers.
Also—I learned in assignment 3—that one must get one light right before moving onto the next—so no comments yet about the flower disappearing into the background—will get to that some time soon.
At the moment I still have the grey background up; but am using a 70x70cm soft box with a grid on it—but the light is still spilling a little too much. If need be, I’ll change the background when I get closer to what I want.
lighting set-up and settings
I am shooting straight onto the flower, with the light directly above it—as described in the paragraph above. Below the flower is some white foam-core which I know will be reflecting some of the light back up. This will change later on in another exercise.
I am shooting manually; using LiveView to focus—which means I have to remember to switch to AV and LiveView to focus—and then remember to switch back. I am also shooting tethered again—this time without the angst—and firing from the computer to eliminate any camera shake. I have learned that in a ‘studio’ with wooden floors, one must tread very lightly! ISO100 and shutter speed at 1/200 throughout. What will change as required is my aperture and light strength.
With no diffusion between the light and the subject, the light is strong and there are some shadows—but I don’t have too much of a problem with it. It is nowhere near where I want to go eventually. I can see some of the light bouncing back from the foamcore onto the base of the flower—the base of the camera-right petal and the underside of the leaves show it quite clearly. Presuming that this is because light always travels in a straight line, it is going directly down onto the foamcore and bouncing back.
The soft box had two layers of diffusion—an inner baffle and one that attaches to the face of the box—here I am only using the inner one. The difference is very subtle and I am not sure how much will show here on wordpress, but the background has become slightly lighter and the light on the petals is definitely softer. The sharp reflections mentioned above have also gone and because of that the underside of the leaves is darker. There was no adjustment in exposure at all.
Have added the additional front layer of diffusion—and when compared to the initial bare-bulb image, the light is now noticeably softer. No adjustment in exposure required—and I was checking the histogram in Lightroom. It shifted slightly on the RHS side, but I did not think it was sufficient to warrant an increase in light power or change in aperture. There was also a shift to the left in the shadows—and I think that happens because the second layer of diffusion is stopping the light from bouncing around as much as in the previous?
But I’m not happy yet. I don’t like the way the background is being illuminated because of the spread of light—so I have changed the front diffusion layer to one with a soft fabric grid on it—because I wanted to control the spread of the light—which I managed to do—the background is dark again. Also wanted to compare the quality of light with and without the grid.
Lost loads of light—ended up changing from f/4.0 to f/2.8; and adding an extra 1 1/2 stops of light power—if the maths is right—I lost 2 1/5 stops of power by adding the grid? Looking closely at the texture of the flower in Lightroom, I think that using the grid has made the light ‘sharper’ or ‘edgier’? I think I see more texture with the grid?
So happy to be back playing with lights! Am going to skip the next exercise about lighting angle and go to the contrast and fill, because I want to play with some ideas about filling from underneath with different surfaces. Then will come back to lighting angles—either with the rose again—but think Hayley will make a reappearance instead.
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The purpose is to evaluate the effect that diffusion has on both the quality of light and the required exposure. Two exposures were required, one which was bare-bulb; and one with a diffusion material in front of the bulb—but as per usual, when I pull myself out of the rut I am in; and get back shooting with lights—I play a little more than is necessary! So there we were, back in the studio—formally known as stepson’s bedroom. I had Hayley’s torso up on a makeshift stand, facing directly to camera; with the familiar dark grey background used in assignment 3. The light—a rectangular soft box 70cm—was at approx 45 degree angle on camera right. Admitted the lighting is not at all attractive, but I’m not shooting portraits here; I’m learning about light—hopefully the beginning of the end of the ‘spray and pray’ approach.
I went through a couple of modifiers—hence the additional images. The soft box has two layers of diffusion; and I also have an optional egg-crate grid—so it seemed as good a time as any to have a little play—and see what the different options did to the shadows and highlights, and the exposure. [Click on the first image in the gallery above to launch larger versions of the images—use the arrows at either side of the larger image to cycle through the gallery.]
I was shooting Raw, with the camera on Manual and the camera settings for all the images are as follows: ISO 50, F/9.0, 1/160 sec—and all images here are straight out of camera—no post-processing. WB was set to ‘Auto’ [in-camera] and in Lightroom, it was left at ‘As Shot’. And I am shooting tethered firing from within Lightroom—without too many hiccups now—not like the beginning of assignment 3.
Changes to the exposure were made by increasing the power of the light as opposed to making camera setting changes—and now, once again I worry that I have got this wrong and should have been changing my aperture to allow more light in. [Learned the hard way on previous assignment and through watching Zack Arias ‘One-Light Workshop’—again—that aperture controls the flash exposure; and shutter speed controls the ambient light.]
Do I have time to go upstairs and do it all again—not by increasing the flash power, but by changing the aperture on the camera. So tell me, what does a professional photographer do? If they have the depth of field that they want; and the aperture they have chosen is important to that image—then surely they would change the flash power? Dunno!
This is the first image, taken with the back of the soft-box on; but no diffusion material in front of the bulb. Where I am going to be looking to see changes are the edge of the shadow cast by her nose and shadow edge at the top of her head; and the shape of the highlights/reflections on the body. In the image above, the lower edge of the nose shadow and the edge near her eye have clearly defined edges. And the reflections have pretty sharp edges too.
[I know that these reflections are caused by having the camera within the family of angles as mentioned in ‘Light—Science and Magic'; and I could have played around a little with the positioning, but again this was not the focus of this exercise; so I opted to leave it where it was and carry on—too many distractions and I would have lost my way again.]
In this image, I have added just one layer of diffusion—the inner baffle of the soft box; and the changes are evident—the loss in exposure; and the fact that the shadow edges and highlights no longer have clearly defined edges. To an extent, the reflections actually seem larger to my eye, especially those on her neck and body—think that is because they are now more of the same ‘colour’ throughout the highlight instead of the brighter centre in them in the previous?
To try and get the exposure similar to that of the first image; I have increased the flash power by 1/2 stop—now 2.5 instead of 2.0 as in the previous images. Looking at it now, think that maybe I should have done 2/3 stop and gone to 2.6; as it still does not seem as light as the initial exposure. [And I am aware that maybe that first exposure was still a little too dark to start with.]
Added the second layer of diffusion—the bit that goes across the front of the soft-box. The edges of the shadows and the highlights have been diffused even further; and once again I lost exposure. Am aware that one of the reasons that the contrast and the edge of the shadows has become less defined is that by adding the diffusion layers, the size of the lights source has effectively become larger in relation to the subject; and therefore will be a softer light.
Added half-stop—flash power now at 3.0. As said before I think that I should have been upping the exposure more than a 1/2 stop—but too late now. Next time I do something like this—especially when shooting tethered, I will look more closely at the histogram in Lightroom instead off just using my eye on the back of the camera—why shoot tethered if you don’t take advantage of all the options that it offers you?
Then I added the egg-crate and wow did the light disappear. This really shocked me because although I expected to have stronger edges to my shadows and a more directed-light than in the previous image, I really had not anticipated the degree of light-loss that we see above. At this stage it is something that I am going to have to be aware of, even if I do not necessarily understand why there is such a dramatic loss of light.
So we increased power by 1/2 stop—now at 3.5; where we started at 2.0 on the power pack. Still not enough…so I continued adding in half stop increments!
So this is where we stopped —having added a full three stops of light from the initial bare-bulb exposure; and two stops from the exposure made with the two layers of diffusion material as supplied standard with the grid. I knew that adding the grid would make the light more directional, add contrast and reduce the spread of the light—light travels in a straight line to the grid helps to direct it. But still amazed by the loss of light.
Comparing the edges of the shadows and highlights, using the grid puts it sort of half-way between the bare-bulb and the two layer diffusion—with defined edges to the shadows and highlights—not as crisp as bare-bulb; and not as soft as the two layers of diffusion. [Something like Goldilocks and the Three Bears springs to mind!]
Where to now? Plans for many of my images for assignment 4, I do want a controlled, slightly edgy light—so I think I will be using grids a fair amount—just smaller ones. Have an upcoming post to do about the lighting of Joel Grimes where he uses gridded spots to create edgy highlights on the model—watch this space.
I have three lights—although I only used one here. In the past every time I wanted to change the power of an individual light, it was a case of wandering around, climbing over stands and avoiding cables to get to the power pack, making the change; and then having to follow the same cautious route back to the tripod. Today, I finally learned how to access the menus on the little Quadras and assign each power pack to a different group. Each time a new little bit of knowledge—it all adds up!
Hunter, F., Biver, S. and Fuqua, P. (2012) Light—Science and Magic. 4th ed. Kidlington: Focal Press
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Still trying to get to grips with the concept of lighting—know that in the past when I have used lights. I have used them to make the object visible in a darkened room as opposed to using lighting creatively to illustrate concepts such as texture, colour, volume or shape. Read Prakel’s book on lighting—which is now on the ‘suggested further reading’ section of the TAOP reading list. Found the book easy to follow and understand; and felt that it linked more closely with the lighting coursework in the red folder.
But I was determined to go further—and so have tackled Light: Science and Magic—which is on the essential section of the reading list. This is hard going! It is the third time that I have attempted the book; and I am not going to let it defeat me. So far, I have managed the first four chapters, so there are another six to go. But am finding that by taking it slowly and making the mind-maps; it is starting to make more sense.
I still have to try all the experiments in the book—and doubt I will have time before my assignment is due—but I am obsessed/determined/pig-headed about lighting—and it will make sense one day!
The first four chapter mind-maps are available here:Read More »
So I had a little play, thinking that it might cover the contrast and fill exercise, until I read the exercise afterwards. The rose is still in place; and I thought I would see what happened if I used various different options instead of the white foam-core as in the previous exercise. Nothing else has changed, focus, aperture, ISO and light power are all as for the previous.
None of the images have had any corrections or enhancements done in Lightroom—I just wanted to see how the different reflectors and objects I had to hand changed the lighting on the base of the rose.
Original image from previous post—the white foamcore below the rose throwing some light back on the underneath leaves.
Black velvet—my little light thief. Throughout this course, when I have used black velvet I’ve been amazed at how much light it sucks up. On a earlier post somewhere, I said I would post a comparison with one of my daffodil shots for assignment 3—but unfortunately, they have gone to the big bit bin in the sky along with many other images—so not possible.
Black foamcore—still stealing light—but in the high res in LR, there is a discernible difference between this and the velvet at the base of the flower—hopefully you can see it here?
For this one, I placed one of those large silver lastolite reflectors underneath and you can see how much light is being reflected back up—especially if you compare it to the first image which had just the plain white foamcore. Obviously comparing with the black it is even more evident.
Here I flipped the reflector over onto the other side—gold and silver stripes and it has warmed the base of the petals and the leaves.
So then I started playing with hardware—no more fabric reflectors as such. Took one of those hard metal reflectors that you attach to a light and place it below the rose. Not seeing too much difference between that one and the large flat reflector used in the previous two. So size was not making too much of a difference here—even though I expected it to.
Then I took the innards of my 100cm octabox and placed it below the flower. In surface area it would have been smaller than the original flat reflector—but I think it is the deep concave shape that has made such a difference? It’s bouncing light all over the place. It’s quite funny because the image looks so much lighter—but the actual spread/range in the histogram from left to right does not change—what has changed is the distribution of the values within that range. Know I could have played with it in LR to bring it down a tad—but here I am just looking at light and light qualities.
Final experiment—got the medium size silver beauty dish out and placed it underneath. It’s not as big or as deep as the octal and I think that shows.
Can there actually be one? I was just playing around and having fun. But I think I like the small silver reflector one best for the crisp light it brings to the underneath; and then the last one. The one with the big octa underneath actually looks quite nice in black and white!Read More »
Knew when Ylennia asked me whether I wanted to take some images in the new water villas that this would be an ideal opportunity for this exercise. We would shoot at sunset; or shortly after sunset and the room would be lit. I was going to get my yellow/blue image. And get the chance to test my eyes against the camera. It’s really interesting how quickly our eyes adjust to the lighting and remove the ‘colour’ from the image. Not so the camera, as the following shots will illustrate. We also had to test the light and see whether—at ISO 100—it would be possible to shoot hand-held. Not a chance—and yet our eyes adjust so quickly to the light. These were taken at ISO 400 and on a tripod. Needed to have a relatively decent depth-of-field—so opted not to open up further than f/8.0.
The white balance set at ‘Auto’ has not eliminated the yellow cast from the lights—which for me is surprising because it is what I would have expected it to do?
Daylight wb—awful! The camera thinking that the light would be blue; has completely over-warmed this image.
The ‘tungsten’ white balance has removed the yellow—which now also affects the blue of outside—making it stronger.
Of the three images—I am somewhere between the ‘auto’ and the ‘tungsten’ setting. Maybe the ‘auto’ is a little too warm; but maybe the ‘tungsten’ has rendered the scene too cool and uninviting? Feel a little bit like Goldilocks and the three bears here.
Also learned another interesting thing in this image—watch for reflections—they will have to be removed—and maybe I should have moved—or moved the large couch. But moving the couch would have been weird because it would have gone behind the telly!Read More »
Finding cloudy day images in our image library that would definitely not have been better in sunlight. We also had to explain the reasoning behind our thoughts. My options are all portraits of young children or teenagers—where I think that if they had been taken in strong sunlight would have caused unattractive shadows on their faces. When I took the first image, I posted it up on a photography magazine website, and someone came back saying how the clouds had created this large soft box—I didn’t have any idea what they meant them—but thanked them. I understand it now.
There was no intervention with the first image—but with all the others there was—where I specifically placed the subject in the shade to soften the light that was falling on them—and to avoid hard shadows. A large reflector was used in the remaining ‘girl’ shots—nothing used for the boy.
There is only one image that I think could possibly have been done in stronger sunlight—the last image in the gallery of the young girl with the hair across her face—she’s getting to the age of the ‘teenager'; and I think the light could have been ‘edgier’.
Read More »
For this part of the exercise, we were encouraged to take our cameras out & capture some ‘wet’ images. These were not very successful. You can see it has been raining—it’s wet and grey—but there’s nothing special. I like the images posted by Danny Santos here, here and here—links also at the bottom of this post. Whereas mine are flat and inactive—his show activity and response to the rain—there is action [and reaction to the weather] in them. And I really like the umbrellas!
Guess from looking at his—after I had taken these—that if I were to do something associated with rain as an assignment—my path would be influenced by his images. On the post-processing side; the images were set to a WB of cloudy in Lightroom; and it has warmed them up a fair amount—and I think they look better for it. So you know just how drab they were before.
- Braving the Night Rain—Danny Santos
- Bad Weather Gallery—Danny Santos
- Good Moments in Bad Weather—Danny Santos
- Good Times in Bad Weather—Danny Santos
Covering two parts of this exercise with these images—looking at colour, f/stop etc but also texture. The exercise suggest that we capture something with relief under a cloudy sky. But the clouds were moving so fast, it seemed an ideal option to continue with what I was looking at in the previous—and also see how the light affected the texture of the tree bark.
F/stop difference went from f/10 to f/4.0— which is a big difference. The bright sunlight image is slightly darker than the overcast one? Could this be my metering? I was spot metering at this stage—playing around, seeing what it does. Should have shot with some different metering patterns to see what the effect was.
Anyway, as with previous images, the image shot in overcast conditions is cooler than the image shot with the sun out. We were instructed to keep the colour balance to ‘daylight'; so am presuming that if I change the WB to ‘cloudy’ in Lightroom, it will warm it up a little. [Done it; and included in the gallery above.] And yes, it is warmer—and I prefer it.
The light is flatter in the cloudy images—and I am going against what I have been saying—but here I actually prefer the softer light.
With Hayley, the aperture difference is not as marked as with the bark; and the colour is not as cool as I would have expected it to be in the cloudy image? But the shadows are a little unflattering—distinct racoon eyes!
Well, it said a brightly coloured object—and the washing basket was to hand—seeing it was the first sunny day we had had in ages! There is a slighter greater change in f/stop when compared to the images of Hayley—and these images were taken within a few minutes of each other. Back preferring the sunnier image, the texture in the fence and the colour—it’s not as flat—and fits with the idea of a sunny washing day better!Read More »
I know where we are going here—looking at shadows—and how clouds help to soften the shadows and the light. Mentioned before how I liked ‘big’ light—the stuff that eliminates shadows and gives this soft, all-round effect. But I have changed over the months on this course! One of my first realisations that it was not necessary to always eliminate shadows—and that harder, stronger shadows can give an edgier feel to the image was way back in October last year when I made a post ‘shadows are your friend’ and a few days later when I saw a Testino shoot in the November issue of Vogue (UK) [both now in my offline journal]. Still love the lighting in that Testino shoot; and something I want to try to emulate in the lighting assignment—although recent computer expenses mean that I will be attempting to make my own snoots.
Back to the exercise in hand. Here’s the first exercise where the clouds are moving swiftly over the sun. Granted, it’s really boring and definitely not being used for anything other than research. But I was sitting in the kitchen, looking out the backdoor—and these clouds were moving. I could actually see the shadows growing harder. then fading, then becoming stronger once more.
Grabbed the camera and shot—have screwed the exercise up slightly in that it asks for feedback on the changes in f/stop; but I set the camera to AV—so the changes reflect in the shutter speed. Guess I could work out the f/stop changes—but I’m not very good with numbers. [Time-span for the set of images was less than 4 minutes.]
So what did I see? Very definitely the harder shadows with the bright sun, the texture in the walls—especially the ‘grouting’ [know it’s not called that—but I reckon you’ll know what I mean!]. With the sharp sun images; that ‘grouting’ is actually casting its own little shadows which brings it more into relief and shows the texture.
The colours in the sun images are much stronger—the blue in the sky and the orange in the roof. Also the ‘shade’ images are much cooler than bluer than the ‘sun’ images.
Finally, there was a big difference in shutter speed—from 1/1000 for the brightest image down to 1/220 for the dullest. For me the cloudy images were flat, cold and uninteresting!Read More »
What’s more frightening—chased by a naked man in Windsor Great Parks—or attacked by aggressive terns…? Odd way to start reflecting on an exercise on light during the day, but I am finding this going out and shooting in the big wild world rather disconcerting! I’ve not been back to Windsor Great park; and I gave up on the images shown here in the late afternoon!
The birds became increasingly aggressive towards me as I returned each hour; and by 4 o’clock they had become very frightening—taking to swooping down on me and shrieking as I flayed them away with the tripod. Learnt later that they lay their eggs in the sand—not in the trees—and I must have been very close to them! Anyway, here are the images that I took.
Before this series, the ‘romantic’ in me would have anticipated that either sunrise or sunset (missing here) would have been the images that I preferred—because of the colours that would be in the sky. Now although I like the colours in the first image; the light is all very flat. The images I preferred are the second one; where the slighter highly light brings out the texture in the walk-way; the rocks, the beach, screens and the villas. Once the sun got higher, it all becomes pretty flat and uninteresting. It’s only towards the end of the day, once the sun starts its way down again—the last three images—that it becomes interesting again.
Like the way the sun starts to catch the water, the clouds, the side of the walk-way and the thatch on the villa roofs. In the last two shots, I actually changed the view because there was no light on the main part of the villas—but I liked the way it was catching the sea.Read More »
In this exercise we look at whether or not a scene requires in-camera white balance correction. Three separate scenes were required—sun, shade and low-sun—and three different white balance settings—daylight, shade and auto—were to be used on each scene. My low-sun image was not as late as I wanted it to be because pretty much everything is in shade here at that time of day. The option does exist for me to try and capture the image at another location in the future—but I need to move on—especially because the hard-drive failure has eaten two weeks of my time.
In this example, obviously the ‘shade’ wb is not acceptable because it has warmed up the image too much. The ‘auto’ is slightly cooler than the ‘daylight’ setting; and I would say that either is acceptable—although the ‘daylight’ is more how I remembered the scene. RGB white balance in Lightroom on the colour passport.
- Daylight: 97.8/97.8/98.0
- Shade: 97.0/95.4/94.0—The decrease in the blue value means that yellow has been added to the image to warm it up. The slight decrease in green will have made the image slightly more ‘magenta-ish'; but it is not something I see.
- Auto: 94.1/94.7/98.1—This image is cooler than ‘daylight’—the decrease in red has added cyan; and the decrease in green has added magenta—I see this in the skin tone and in the colour of the fence behind her.
Unfortunately, did not have the passport round her neck here. It was an after thought for the other images—and now wish I had done it. The shade WB seems to have handled this quite well. It has warmed it up and brought the skin tone closer to that of the ‘daylight’ setting in the earlier image.
I know it’s not the point of the exercise, but I like the lighting angle best on these images—it seems to give more ‘shape’ to her? The daylight setting is definitely how I saw it—and obviously the shade would be too warm because she was already shot in a ‘warm’ light. The auto has completely removed the warmth of the sun; and because of the cooler colour and the direction of the light, it semi looks like it was lit with flash.
- Daylight: 97.2/95.7/93.9
- Shade: 98.4/95.4/90.9
- Auto: 93.9/94.5/98.1
Had an idea where this one was going on—in terms of colour temperature—can see the point of actually stopping and considering how the colour of the light affects the object. I know it is something that we filter out subconsciously when we look at objects. We don’t see the ‘colour'; we see it as we think we should.Read More »
The fact that daylight has colour—and that colour changes through the day—is something I am aware of. But it’s not something that I have actually conscientiously measured and compared when I have created images. To be honest, most of the time I’ve shot on AWB with my cameras; and seldom changed the white glance in Lightroom—just left it on ‘As Shot’. I did play around with it in Assignment 1—using an X-Rite Colour Passport—but I still have to post that up here. [Started the blog after I had completed assignment 1; and although I have posted the images in the ‘Portfolio'; I’ve not yet got my workings up. Need to do it before assessment.]
Back on track…
For this exercise we had to capture three images—sunlight at midday, shade at midday and sunlight when the sun is close to the horizon. Battling to do that here in the UK—the chance of getting clear skies is pretty impossible at the moment. I am going to post my midday and shade images now—and hopefully will add to this when the weather becomes a little more predictable.
So here is Hayley in the garden—she’s likely to feature in many of the coursework images for this module.
Hayley shot in the shade with the WB still set as ‘daylight’. This image is noticeably cooler/bluer than the image shot in the sun.
The first image when the camera was set to ‘daylight’ and she was in direct sun near the middle of the day is much warmer than the second image where the white balance has not been changed. but she has moved into the shade. When I look at one and then at the other, the sun one looks too yellow—even though the correct WB was chosen.
The sunrise/sunset image is still missing—will come back when I get a none-cloudy early morning or evening.
The third and fourth images were just for curiosity—just to see what would happen—how Lightroom would handle the conversions if I set it to ‘Auto’. Was quite impressed with the ‘Auto’ corrections applied in Lightroom; and will do some more later—to see how Lightroom corrects when I choose the ‘correct’ WB setting.
A diagram which shows the colour temperature of light according to the Kelvin Scale.
- The Discerning Photographer—Kelvin Temperature
- DPS—Creating moods with the Kelvin Scale
- NUAT Experiment
- BLT Direct
In my first post for lighting coursework, I said that occasionally I would try to pre-empt what was required. This exercise is one of those where I think I know where we are going before I do the exercise. I am aware of the relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture; and how changing one affects the other. As I understand it; each change—whether to ISO, shutter or aperture—either doubles or halves the amount of light hitting the sensor? Mentioned this in a previous post.
So in situations where we need to freeze action or increase the shutter speed to a level where we can eliminate the camera shake in long hand-held situations, we have two options—either to open up the aperture or increase the ISO.
The problem with increasing ISO is that the noise—especially in the darker areas of the image—will increase. I remember—eons ago, when I got my first SLR film camera, a Minolta XG1—how ISO 100 was standard film; and going for ISO 400 was a really fast consumer film—sure there must have been faster films for pros! Now the ISO ranges that cameras are capable of far outstrip those values.
I also think that one should shoot with the lowest ISO possible to get the least noise and therefore better quality in an image—but I am open to correction here. But I know that there are some images—predominantly b&w—where
The shots below were some quick captures—after a few cocktails—so maybe some of the camera shake could be attributed to that! In the final shot, the noise is evident throughout the image.
Here are some web pages that I looked at regarding noise—especially the difference between colour noise and luminance. I am not going into that too deeply here because I think it is the kind of topic that I will investigate more closely when I progress to DPP.
- Digital Camera Image Noise—Cambridge in Colour
- DP Review: Color noise versus luminance noise
- O’Reilly: Inside Lightroom—Lightroom Noise Reduction at 3200 ISO – Luminance & Color
Okay, now this series has gone on long enough—I get the picture—I promise to make more informed decisions! Seriously, it has been beneficial. In conjunction with the colour coursework, the idea that you stop before exposing and take more control. Decide whether by slightly under-exposing or over-exposing the scene, you will get the effect that you want. At times I sound glib—but that’s because I am tired—not tired of the exercises—just tired! It’s been a hard week.
And sometimes posting on the blog takes longer than it does to do the exercises—and that makes me think something is wrong. Should not be hampered by this medium. Often think I should have stuck to my original concept of InDesign for all aspects of the course—it was so much quicker. Rant over!
This series was intended to highlight the daybed which hangs out over the water. It seemed a good idea at the time to place the lights at the base—but was a double snaff-foo! One light at 1/3 power would possibly have been okay—three lights at full power was not a good idea. From the very first shot—1 EV—the highlights are totally blown. So when we get to +1EV, when the rest of the images starts to be visible, there is not an iota of information left in that light area!
And obviously, because the power of the lights was influencing the camera’s perception of the image, 0EV is still way under-exposed for the bed and cushions. Nuther lesson learned! And by the way, whereas my initial series—Venice—were shot in 1/3 increments because I had not read the instructions properly and had not figured out how to change it on the camera—the 1/3 increments in this and the previous series were intentional—trying to cover all bases!Read More »
Penultimate series of bracketed exposures for this part of the coursework—and an interior series. These images are from the shoot requested by Ylenia while on holiday—her indecent proposal—as she called it. In return for doing the images, she offered to upgrade us to the room I was shooting or another even grander room. I did the images—but declined the upgrade—we were perfectly happy where we were—and accepting the upgrade would have put more pressure on me. Shooting interiors is not something I am—and I don’t have those fancy lenses that people use to correct the distortion.
I did some online research before the shoot—looking at how images tend to be shot—and I’ve mentioned in a previous post about the light and airy, or warm and cozy feel that one can get dependent on lighting, colour balance and exposure.
This is a set of exposures where I think that all work—dependent on what it is that you want. Unlike the previous—granted they ranged from -2EV to +2 EV—here it depends on what you want. Personally, I think the -1EV is too dark—but some catalogs like this. Ylenia is really happy with the lighter ones because it makes a change from what they have been getting; and says that the tourist people want the lighter, brighter sometimes?
Bear in mind, nothing has been done to these images. But I think I would go for one of the +EV ones; and then process it a little further?Read More »
The third and final series of bracketed images from Venice—with a slight difference from previous. So, I’m still not reading the exercise properly—but I am watching videos! Watched Joel Grimes, and how he shoots his backgrounds for his HDR images—remember that I said I had initially shot these with a view to creating some HDR composites—of course, I’ve still not read the coursework instructions properly—something I promise to do from now on.
So there I am at dawn in St Mark’s Square—camera tripod-mounted—I look through the viewfinder and focus—and then like a ‘real pro’ [you know this is tongue-in-cheek right—but I thought I was just so cool then] I take my eye from the viewfinder, hit the button; dial twice, hit the button; dial twice, hit the button—you get the picture? What a nonce! But I’m looking around—like ‘look at me’—I know what I’m doing! Aah, the shame I feel now!
The images are way off for this exercise—I’m now shooting -2 through to +2—so why am I including them? Penance; and acknowledgement that having a camera—or signing up for an OCA course—does not make me a photographer, that there is so much I still have to learn! Oh; and I know that taking my eye away from the viewfinder without an option to close it up may well have affected exposure—so please don’t point that out to me—feeling stupid enough already!
Nor particularly happy with any of them; but if I had to opt for one, it’s going to be the +1 1/3EV. I lose the colour in the sky—but I can see the detail in the pavement!Read More »
The second series of images where I bracket exposures and decide which one reflects the scene as I want. We are still in Venice—remember this was me two years ago thinking I could steam through the entire TAOP on a holiday. Looking back; I do see how far I have come already—and I am still not finished the first module!
Again I am unsure bout which exposure I prefer! It’s a difficult image—with the contrast between the clouds/sky and the dark steel stairs. If I keep the detail in the sky with one of the under-exposed images; then I lose the details in the stairs—and vice-versa. It’s going to be -1/3EV again because I think there is just enough detail in the stairs and then I get to keep the detail and the colour in the sky. This coming from the girl who when she started the colour module, really hated colour! Also have made a very interesting discover about the different processing engines in LR3 and LR4—will post that a little later. But for those contemplating the upgrade—I think it just might be worth it!Read More »
Here we go with exposure bracketing—creating a series where we deliberately under-and over-expose images. It is something that I have played with on a number of occasions—normally with a view to creating an HDR image. But to be honest; I’ve never created anything that I liked! Because we have to create a number of series of images—which will make this post rather long—I’m going to create a separate post for each series.
When I first began this course—nearly two years ago—I took the ‘infamous’ red folder with me; with a view to completely as many exercises as possible. I dipped in and out—finding exercises for which I knew I would find suitable subjects. Not really the best way to do it—I should have been more ‘linear’—but I’m not going to bin the images—so here in five posts a time-span of two years!
Also—because I have finally read more of the manual—I now know how to change the EV increments in half-stop instead of the third-stop that I was doing. But my series are series of seven—in future they will be five!
For this set of images, the common exif is as follows: focal length: 135mm | iso: 200 | aperture: f/2.0 | metering: evaluative. The change in EV and shutter speed is noted with each image. Which one do I prefer—I don’t know! I keep hovering around the one exposed normally and liking that—then I look at the strength of colour in the sky and the colour of the background church at -1/3—and think yeah, I like that more. Then I look at the +1/3—and like the way I can see more of the building details in the foreground—but the sky has become a bit ‘hazy’ and the church no longer looks separate because of the lighter roof tiles.
I’m plumbing for -1/3EV—I like the way the church stands out so much from the rest of the buildings—sort of symbolic shining light. And not considering the others at the two extremes because I think they are either too light or too dark. I made no changes to the images in terms of white balance or exposure. So in terms of exposure—yes—the highlights are clipped in the majority of the images. What I do find interesting though is how the lights get warmer/yellow as the image gets lighter. Images shot with AWB—and no changes made in Lightroom.
[And I had a real ‘techie’ moment when looking at the shutter speed. Initial shutter speed for -1EV was 1 sec; then 0EV was 2 sec; and +1EV was 4 sec—missing out the intermittent steps because you can see them yourself by looking at the images. As I was recording the shutter speeds, I was actually trying to anticipate what the next one would be; and I was pretty much there. In terms of when I was increasing the EV by a stop, I was doubling the amount of light ‘required'; and therefore it was double the exposure time. I’ve read about it—but it’s the first time I’ve seen it so clearly in an image—guess I was lucky that I started with a 1sec exposure—ottherwise the maths might have defeated me!]Read More »
An exercise which calls for a number of images that are deliberately lighter or darker than average I’m going to include some that I deliberately exposed to get the light/dark bit; but also a couple that were a complete mistake—because I had not checked my camera settings (uh-oh); or where the dynamic range of the scene was so great that I did not stand a chance with one exposure—but still should have changed my metering mode.
Apologies for some of the very ‘touristy’ images—but when you decide to do the bulk of your lighting coursework confined to an island—you don’t have much choice!
This is one where the land and even part of the sky are darker than average. I used Partial metering and metered off the light part of the sky. The reason for this was that I did not want the sunrise to get blown-out; but obviously that does impact on the rest of the image. However, I’m quite happy with that. Any lighter and there would have been the highlight clipping; and also the fact that it was sunrise might have been lost.
Aah-the infinity pool at sunset! I was working towards a silhouette and so the image is intentionally darker again. Using centre-weighted, where it pays more attention to the centre of the frame—where I initially metered before I re-composed—the bright light of the sunset has over-awed the sensor and the sky is darker than it actually was. [BTW—don’t think the horizon is straight—not sure what is wrong with me but I always tend to lift the right hand side of the camera when shooting hand-held. Thought it was the camera’s fault until I found images taken with my Fuju suffer from the same. Can I blame the fact that my right leg is slightly longer?]
Taken only two minutes after the previous image; I have made a conscious decision to ‘lighten’ the image. The metering has stayed the same; but I have re-composed the image to include less of the dark tree mass; and have pushed Exposure Compensation to +1. It gives an entirely different feel to the previous image—and I am not sure which one I prefer. Think the exposure should have been somewhere in-between; with a lighter sky than the first but still keeping the trees as dark as possible. Would that have been possible with one image?
My little foray into photographing interiors. You are likely to see these images and others from that evening featuring in a number of the posts on lighting—when I was shooting I was also thinking about exposure | exposure bracketing | white balance—and I know that those are coming up along the way in this coursework. This image is deliberately under-exposed by 1/3 stop. Many of the interior images that I have looked at seem to do one of two things—they are either slightly over-exposed to look bright and airy; or slightly under-exposed to look all warm and cosy. I’m hoping for the warm and cosy feeling here. Metering was set to evaluative to take in the whole scene which I hoped would give me that average exposure—then I could choose to under-expose. [And I know that for this to be a ‘commercial shot’ there is some major post-processing that has to be done—the air-con needs to go; as do as many of the wall switches etc.]
Said at the beginning of this post that I would also include some others which were problem children.
This is me playing with the little Fuju x100 when I first bought it. The metering is set to Evaluative—because on default settings still—and I have presented the camera with a scene where the limits are far beyond its dynamic range. But it has looked at all that bright white sunshine on the wall—averaged out the exposure—and consequently silhouetted the foreground people.
This is where I should have used either spot or partial and metered on the people—knowing that there was a chance of blowing the highlights on the wall. [This is where the coursework is really useful—when you can look back at uh-oh moments and realise what you did wrong! Of course, that does not mean it will not happen again—but it might reduce the possibility!]
An unintentionally over-exposed image! Loads of excuses—but first the technical bit. With the camera set to spot-metering and the ISO set to 1600—and me focusing on the coppers in black—the camera thought the image was too dark and therefore increased the exposure and blew out the rest of the image—note the haze top right corner.
[Excuses—I was still getting used to the camera—I had been playing with the settings and had not zeroed them before I went into London—this was a protest at Liverpool Street that I came across after the OCA visit to see Struth at Whitechapel—it was all heat of the moment and adrenalin pumping—first time I had ever been in/at a protest! I could see from looking at images and histogram that something was wrong—but did not have the presence of mind to stop and think clearly.]
Have noted something in Lightroom that I am going to have to come back to at some stage—maybe DPP. With the Canon; the exif is showing a value for ‘Exposure Compensation’ which I understand; but for the Fuji it says ‘Brightness value’ and gives values like 4.68Read More »
These exercises are designed to teach us to make conscious decisions about what metering system to use and to possibly contemplate using some degree of exposure compensation dependent on the subject matter and dynamic range of the image. I’ve never really got to grips with using the various metering modes on my camera; and have just tended to leave it on evaluative—similar to how I always tended to shoot in AV—seldom venturing into TV or M. Okay, have had to use Manual when I have shot with the lights—but it’s been a decision forced on my by the circumstances and not a voluntary artistic or technical decision.
Never really understood the difference between the evaluative, partial and centre-weighted modes; understood spot metering—but rarely used it! So guess it was time to look at the manual! That’s the problem with camera manuals—or any other manual—you get them when you get the new gadget—you realise that you should read them, but it seems so much information—so they just go in a box or on the bookshelf, never to be read again. But, this is an ideal opportunity—I’m not reading the whole manual—I’m only looking briefly at one snippet of information—this is manageable.
Feel I must read it because the notes are Nikon based and I’m Canon. Yes, the concepts are similar, but the terminology is different. So I fished out the manual and had a look at the different options. The notes only mentioned three main options; but my camera has four. Found this image which is a scan of my manual, so keeping it here for reference. [Think it’s quite ironic that it came from a website called Nikon D60 club.]
Also bounced round a number of websites including a post at the digital photography school; a very useful post at Cambridge in Colour; and then finally,pulled from the bookshelf, a book with the dubious title of “Your Camera Loves you; Learn to love it back” by Khara Plicanic—should have been my first option. This book is seriously useful for ‘newbies’ trying to understand how to go beyond P on their camera—although I did have to look up what she meant by PB&J [peanut butter and jelly!].
She lists them in a more logical way than the manual does; and does make a point that the centre-weighted and evaluative icons should be swapped. I tend to agree with her. It seems more logical and intuitive—but hey-ho—that’s never going to happen! The diagrams below are adapted from the book; and show where the camera meters; they are not indicative of the icons shown on a camera.
Meters light across the entire scene, then averages it to decide the exposure. Also known as matrix on Nikon. Normally the default setting on a camera. And it is the one that I have tended to use.
Calculates exposure by averaging the entire scene —gives special consideration to the area in the centre of scene—illustrated by the overall shading with the darker shading in the centre.
Does not meter the entire scene when calculating exposure—bases exposure calculation on the centre of scene. Useful in backlit situations or when important part of the scene is significantly lighter/darker than the rest.
Similar to partial metering—calculates exposure based on a specific point within the scene—but targets an even smaller area within the centre of the frame. Again useful in backlit situations or when important part of the scene is much lighter/darker than the rest.
Just a list of the websites I looked at; and one book which I find useful in explaining all sorts of technical information in a very accessible way.
- Nikon D60 club
- digital photography school
- cambridge in colour
- Plicanic, K. (2012) Your Camera Loves you; Learn to love it back. Berkeley: Peachpit Press
I’m playing a game with myself and ‘lit’ photography at the moment—and it’s helping me ‘see the light’! Basically it consists of two stages—the one where I can get feedback—and the one where I am all on my lonesome. Have pulled all the photographic lighting books from the bookshelf—you know the ones that have recipes in them. It’s not my intention to emulate any of those recipes in my assignment—I am looking at them to learn.
So what I do is I look at the image—especially the shadows—and the lights in the eyes if the subject is a portrait. When I look at the shadow—I’m looking at two things—so will explain each separately.
First thing I am looking is the shadows placement——because this, in conjunction with the lights in eyes—helps me to try and work out where the lights have been placed—light travels in a straight line!
Then I look at the edge of the shadows because this helps me determine what type of light may have been used; and also the distance of the light from the subject. Sometimes looking in the eyes helps here too!
Once I have made my guess-timation, then I look at the recipe and work out how close or far-off I was in my assessment.
The second stage is doing a similar process with images in magazines—but there I get no feedback—so I can’t be sure—but I do know what I might try to emulate the effect.
A sometimes slightly-tongue in cheek site I visit is guess the lighting—that helps as well!
It’s a little like learning to read before you can write—if you know what I mean. And I know that there is no substitution for practise; but I need to practise with direction. Also know that some of that will come from the lighting exercises in the courseworkRead More »
It’s time to start all the ‘onerous’ tasks as background for the lighting assignment. Actually, I’m quite excited although it is not my intention to just work through all the exercises like an automaton. I used the word ‘onerous’ in my introduction, because that has been what I have felt reading through some of the other blogs as people complete the exercises. There seem to be so many, which can drag one’s enthusiasm down if they feel just like a never-ending mountain of tasks. So my intention is to approach it slightly differently!
a different approach
If you have followed this blog, you might have noticed that I have a little bit of an obsession with lighting! Used lights in both assignment 1 and assignment 3—mostly spray and pray attempts at lighting. A sort of ka-boom; crash-bang-wallop approach, without blowing it out too much—and eliminating shadows as much as possible! There was no modelling, no finesse! In fact, it was only towards the end of assignment three—my tulips series—that I was starting to handle the light with a little more intention. They’re not perfect, but I was enjoying lighting them to get the highlights on the top of the petals; and moving bits of foil around to fill areas. So now, I am ready to move on…
And before I even get near to the assignment, I know that what I want to do will be different. There will be some soft light—no shadow shots; but I also want to experiment with creating hard shadows (intentionally) and also throwing shadows. I’ve chosen to work with a doll, who stands only 18in—she can’t actually stand unaided—so that might also be fun! Why I mention the doll so early is because I know I am in for a hard time with her. All my light modifiers are huge—not huge in the commercial studio sense—huge in the amateur photographer sense. And I know that the softness of the light is directly related to the size of the light-source when related to the size of the subject. So getting the effects I want will be a bit of work. Have some home-made workarounds in mind—but not sure if they will work. We wait and see.
Have also compromised with my tutor that not all the shots will be indoors—so the rain had better stop sometime soon. Will be taking the lights outside as they are all battery-powered. Need to work out a way to get my flash to trigger the lights or vice-versa. More technical stuff to learn!
approaching the coursework
My intention with the exercises is to stop before I do each set; and try and anticipate what the results will be, what the exercise is trying to teach me—and, if I really think that I might not learn from that one—doubtful though—I’ll skip it! Also if I think an image is relevant to more than one aspect of the coursework; then I will use it again! Also, my tutor did say in my previous report—”The course work is going to ask you to do a lot of things you already can.” So maybe it is okay if I skip an exercise here and there—with justification of course.
One of my reasons for try to pre-empt what is being asked of me, or what an exercise is designed to teach me, is so that I can get as much out of this module as possible. In the previous ones, it’s often only when I get to the end of an assignment that I understand where it was leading me; and then I have got frustrated because I don’t think that I have learned all that I should have done from it. And then I get tempted to start again! So I’m reflecting on my learning before I start learning—if you know what I mean?Read More »