Assignment 4: Applying Lighting Techniques Rework

Choose any subject you can move around and make images to fulfil the following briefs using any form of lighting from the range practised in this section.  Aim to show the following qualities: – shape, form, texture and colour.

With hindsight, I agree with my tutor that the images in my first submission do not reflect the amount of effort I did put into producing this work, also that more images under different lighting conditions and different settings will improve the quality and that the original images look very same-same.  I never-the-less do believe that they show the technical aspects of what the brief required, although maybe not much artistry, and should remain within the submission to show that aspect and contrast with my new submissions.

The first image is still the one I used in my original submission as I was very pleased with the result and feel it fulfils the brief both technically and artistically.

Image 1: Shape: f/1.8 ISO 100 1/2500″ 50mm prime

Image 2: Shape: f/1.8 ISO 100 1/4000″ 50mm prime

Image 1 & 2: Shape

Image 1

I waited until 7-00 pm when the sun was lowish in the sky and projected long shadows before I attempted this image.  Unlike Image 2: where the Shape is in the form of a silhouette, here I wanted to have the source of the light from in front of the bust to project the shape behind it to form a different artistic impression.  There are a couple of reasons why this failed; 1. The bust was incorrectly aligned to the light source for the shadow to be projected in full shape, i.e. the nose is missing from the shadow.  Whilst the angle of the bust is more pleasing than full square to the light in this image, the shadow has failed to produce the full shape and to my mind that isn’t the artistic effect I wanted.  2.  The surface I’ve placed the bust on is too highly textured for this experiment and would have been better on something smooth(er).

I attempted to recreate this kind of effect in a darkened room with a digital projector and screen, but whilst adjusting the bust to my favoured position, I broke it and the set-up became a ‘bust’ (sic)!

Image 2

I used my photographic light source in its reflector box and with the diffuser I’d rigged.  Experimenting with the shutter speed, the shaping of the diffuser and using live-view, I finally came up with this image which I think is slightly different to what I’d expected when I started.  I’m extremely pleased that the outline of the bust is sharp but that some of the wording on the ceramic is still just visible and the shape of the diffuser has given it that difference in appearance.

Image 3: Form: f/1.8 ISO 100 1/3200″ 50mm prime

Image 4: Form: f/5.6 ISO 100 1/30″ 50mm prime

Image 3 & 4: Form

Image 3

I made this image about 10 minutes earlier than Image 1: above but in an area between the wings of a building where the sun had virtually disappeared behind the brickwork.  To get the result I wanted I made a series or images using a reflector I’d adapted from a pre-made painters canvas, covered in plastic film.  The variations of light reflected from this were great and it was a case of trial and error until I achieved the result I wanted.

In this instance I held the canvas frame above and to the right of the bust whilst angling it down slightly.

The different shadows across the breadth of the face have given the highs and lows of the ceramic surface different levels and because the shadows are darker at the far side it has given a stronger sense of 3D than otherwise would have been the case.  The other positive from using this type of reflector is that it reduces the number of highlights thrown onto the ceramic glaze which makes the image much more pleasing to look at.  I was extremely pleased with this image.

Image 4

Once again I used the diffused photographic light rig, but I also introduced a second light source by way of my mobile ‘phone flash set to continuous output.  The light rig is set at right-angles to the bust and the ‘phone light is in-line with the left shoulder of the bust.  This deepened the shadows on the opposite side of the ‘phone light and added depth to the dimension.  This method also gave me an unexpected bonus of reflected light from the supposed semi-matt background material producing several additional shadows stepped across the busts’ right cheek.  I initially was concerned about these shadows, but on reflection I decided that they enhanced the image and gave it an additional perspective and look.

Image 5: Texture: f/3.2 ISO 100 1.3200″ 50mm prime

Image 6: Texture: f/5.6 ISO 100 1/20″ 50mm prime

Image 5 & 6: Texture

Image 5

This image was made in the same area as Image 3: between the building wings, but clearly at a slightly earlier time.  This exercise required the texture of the bust to be visible and required a strong light at virtually right-angles to the glaze crackle to lift the ridges and valley out of the shine.  With the bust full-face on to the camera the artistic effect has to come from another source as this pose is very mundane.  I think that interest is added by the bokehed background of the lavender bushes and the house; some mystery has been added whilst the colour provides interest.  The glaze crackle stands out very clearly in this image, the texture element, and was one of a series from which it took some selecting.

Image 6

This image required a lot of experimentation and I was extremely surprised with the combination that produced the best result.  The diffused photographic lighting rig at right-angles on the left of the scene with a card placed part-way across the light stream and natural light from multiple windows to the rear and over the left shoulder of the bust.  I think this worked because although I didn’t have a variable photographic light source, the card ameliorated the effect from 40 Watts of white light sufficiently to provide a nice even light across the front of the bust whilst the natural light picked up the crackle finish on the ceramic glaze.  This created short, hard shadows to lift the texture and enhanced it above that of the other three images in this series.

Image 7: Colour: f/1.8 ISO 100 1/4000″ 50mm prime

Image 8: Colour: f/5.6 ISO 100 1/25″ 50mm prime

Image 7 & 8: Colour

Image 7

I moved around the subject from right to left making a series of images at various camera heights and reviewed them as I went along.  This image stood out immediately as being the one for colour as the shadow on the right-hand-side of the face  immediately forces the eye lower to the brighter area where all the colour is on the bust.  The fact that the left-hand-side of the face is also extremely highlighted doesn’t make the eye travel away and this ensures that the limited amount of colour available in the image is now brought to the fore.  I know that black and white are argued by some to not be colours, but they are to me for reasons I’m not going to argue here, but the black of the lettering is also highlighted within and because of the shadows on the right-hand-side of the face and the white of the porcelain is increased by the harsh light of the sun of the left-hand-side.

Image 8

There’s not much colour on this object, only the black text and blue borders, of course the ceramic glaze has a white colour, but can white be called a colour?  Anyway, to get the lighting right I used the diffused photographic lighting rig at right-angles on the left of the scene and natural light reflected from an angled board covered in crumpled cooking foil in front of the scene, plus the natural light from behind and over the left shoulder of the bust.  This lifted the amount of light falling onto this scene above that of the other images in the series and brought up the blue borders to a different looking hue.  It could be said that all the images should have the same colour border, but as the light is different in each scene to enhance a different aesthetic, then this very well-lit scene is just another variation.

Other Lighting Scenes

Image 9: f/3.5 ISO 100 1/4000″ 50mm prime

Image 10: f/4 ISO 100 1/4000″ 50mm prime

Image 9 & 10

I had considered these images may give a great way of displaying shape, but I felt that the image I chose was stronger.  Made using a smoked glass table top and natural light I made these about the middle of the day when the sun was almost overhead.

Image 11: f/22 ISO 1600 2.5″ 50mm prime

Image 12: f/1.8 ISO 1600 1/8″ 50mm prime

Image 11 & 12

Obviously taken at night and under halogen lighting.  I wanted to see what the result would be and I guess I got my answer, it’s a lot like using gel over a strong light-source.  I wasn’t very happy with the image showing the moon; the aperture wasn’t correct, the point of focus was all wrong too and I think I used the wrong lens. but then I hadn’t expected anything too great from it, it was just to show other lighting situations.  Image 12 is just a pot-boiler I think, it just does what it does and shows the halogen lighting.

I had intended to remake both these images but I unfortunately broke the bust before I could try out a different lens and settings for the two night scenes.  I was also going to try an attempt at three light sources with different gels over them and the ones I missed with the digital projector have left me a bit short on other lighting situations unfortunately.

Over the past twelve months whilst viewing the many exhibits I’ve seen on study visits I’ve reflected on what it is that makes the images of the best artists stand-out more than the average.  This was particularly true at the Zarina Bhimji ‘World Without People’ ( ) exhibition, and particularly the images from her ‘Turner Prize Exhibition 2007’, where she made all her images in the tropics and where the natural light can be extremely harsh unless you use the early morning and late afternoon, but it is very predictable and constant through the seasons.  I found that the effects she obtained produced extremely evocative memories for me and with hindsight that was due to her imaginative use of the light to set the mood.

One of the great things about getting a kick-up-the-bum from my tutor over my first efforts on this assignment was that it made me realise that, yes I had been going through the motions and I’d not paid enough attention to the varying light conditions we enjoy in this country.  We have a wonderful range of weather, unlike the tropics, through every season, and whilst this is a challenge I think it’s also a blessing because it provides such a wide variety of effects on any outdoor scene over a relatively short period of time.  The challenge for the student is to master them and bring out the best in each image instead of just going through the motions.

Further Work

Having enjoyed making the later images so much I decided to obtain another phrenology head and finish making the images I’d discussed earlier in the text above.

Image 13: f/4 ISO 100 1/25″ 50mm prime

Image 14: f/4 ISO 100 -1.33EV 3.2″ 50mm prime

Image 13: was made using a digital projector as the light source and a projection screen as a backdrop.  The idea was to get an image without shooting  into the light source and provide an alternative way of showing a silhouette.  I think this worked extremely well and the colours added by the projector logo provide an extra difference.

Trying to use this light source to get a normal silhouette against the light source proved very problematical as the light beam spreads very quickly to fill the screen when the projector is at the normal distance from the screen and when moved closer it still doesn’t provide sufficient illumination to get a decent silhouette.

Image 14: has the projection screen as a backdrop and a single candle behind the bust as illumination.  The reason I like this one so much is the beautiful pearlescent pinks on the backdrop.

Image 15: f/4 ISO 100 -1.66EV 0.5″ 50mm prime

Image 16: f/4 ISO 100 -1.66EV 0.5″ 50mm prime

Images 15 & 16: are variations on a theme with candles, obviously, and these two show how placing candles in the right places help lift the shadows and provide a different look.  The only problem as far as I can see is that they do not fulfil the original brief of using only one object for the exercise, although it could be argued that the candles are illumination only but that’s pretty thin.

Image 17: f/4 ISO 100 -2EV 8″ 50mm prime

Image 18: f/4 ISO 100 -2EV 4″ 50mm prime

Image 17 & 18: were produced using coloured glow-sticks and are my favourites of the alternate light source images I’ve made.


3 Responses to Assignment 4: Applying Lighting Techniques Rework

  1. Mali says:

    I love your shot with the candle !!! I might use the idea for my assignment if you don’t mind

  2. Lerpy says:

    No problem Melanie, knock yourself out

  3. Mali says:

    lol, you should see my subject …. a barbie, a start to shoot it and forgot it was going to be a macro nightmare but I should be done tomorrow 🙂

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