Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Exercise: The Lighting Angle

These exercises are getting the best possible use out of my mains flash lights and I am learning. In this exercise we are to demonstrate the angle of the light by placing the flash at varying angles around and above a subject to show the differences in shadow, texture and depth. To show off these our image had to itself be something with curves and relief, I chose a manikins head in the form of a squirrel.

The first image was taken with a diffused flash directly behind the subject. This has formed a silhouette with very little or no depth, it has just formed the outline of the shape, but with a little light falling on the eyes showing some shape. I think this was light that had bounced around the room.

The next sequence of 5 shots rotate around the subject starting with the flash next to the camera at 6 O'clock, then at 4 O'clock, 3 O'clock, 2 O'clock and finally 1 O'clock which is just behind the subject and to the right.

Looking at these image I prefer the ones taken to an angle as they cast more of a shadow and give contrast showing the curves of the manikin. The best probably at around 3 O'clock.

The next set are taken from the same angles as above but with the flash unit above the manikin pointing downwards.

I think that this set has come out better, this goes along my earlier understanding that the flash light should be slightly above the subject. again the images with the flash to one side and behind work well and these are preference for the exercise as they shown more form to the manikins head. The frontal images are very plain with little or no shadow and do not produce a pleasing image.

The room in which I took these images has a very low ceiling and lots of close proximity white walls which I think has added reflected light. I will move for the next exercises and the forthcoming Assignment, another lesson learnt.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Exercise: Softening the Light

This exercise explores the differences in softening artificial light. I am lucky enough to already have some studio lighting, budget Interfit, and I must say I am really pleased with it. The quality of images obtained from this lighting set is brilliant and I always enjoy using it.

The first image is taken using a mains powered flash light with the lamp more of less overhead and slightly to one side with the diffuser removed. This image was taken at f13 1/250 sec.

The image looks well lit and quite even, but it is not until it is compared to the same image and the light fitted with a diffuser that subtle differences can be seen, especially within the cage. These images were taken at f8 1/250, clearly the diffuser is absorbing a lot of the light yet distributing it more evenly.

To show this more I have also taken a two shots with and without the diffuser but closer up within the cage. Here it is clearer that the shadows are much harsher without the diffuser and that the light is not as even. Also there is a purple'ish tinge to the second image with the diffuser, I suspect this is light that has been bounced or reflected from the material this still life was set on. All in all I think that the diffused image is a better version showing better lighting and colour and a lot more detail of the elephant.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Exercise: Outdoors at Night

This exercise involves exploring various lighting effects at nigh time. The aim is to take around 12 or more photographs including floodlit buildings, store fronts, interiors and a busy road with moving traffic.

I took some of the shots in London and some in a local town. The first two are on opposite sides of the Thames, I like the reflections in the water, but really like the warm lighting on the south side in the second image.

Unfortunately I did not have my tripod for the moving shots of traffic, so I just balanced the camera on the bridge to steady it, the exposure was too short to get a stream of lights but I still like the movement here and the lighting works well.

Here is one I took with a tripod in Paris with a much longer exposure.

The following are some shots of store fronts, I took these outside so that the lighting effect would be stronger. The first two I chose because of their strong colour.

I really like this shot of a bright carousel taken at dusk with the images of people silhouetted, shame it is a bit messy with the benches but shows the possibilities of night light.

The final two images were taken on my way back to the car, the first a view was greatly warmed up by the artificial light of the shops, and the last taken at night in the car park with fluorescent lights. I changed the WB to the correct setting but really like the shadows cast, the blue car in the back ground is the one I focussed on as it is the one that the eye is drawn to, almost as if colour popped.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Mary McCartney - From Where I Stand

This module of the course has taken me a while for various reasons, but I have also taken time out to indulge myself in photography elsewhere. I have commented on the 'Photographer' that accompanied this course, the work of Brian Duffy and  Gregory Crewdson.

When I bumped into Mary McCartney's book 'From Where I Stand' I instantly took a shine to her images. Mary is the eldest daughter of Sir Paul and was the baby inside Paul McCartney's jacket on his' first solo album cover, a picture taken by Mary's mother, Linda, herself an accomplished photographer. 

Mary certainly has had plenty of opportunity to take images travelling with her parents and later in life with her successful fashion designer sister Stella. However I do not want to distract form the fact that some of these images are superb. Mary is a minimalist photographer using natural lighting  and standard equipment which leads us all to the possibility of publishing such as book. The images are varied from landscapes, still life, but mostly of portraits, some candid.

There are many taken of performers of the Royal Opera House, behind the scenes, which are fascinating. A truly magnificent image of Morresy which is too large for me to scan in,  as is a very touching and sympathetic image of Marianne Faithful. Each image seems to tell a story, they are not snaps but a collection of photographers that have a meaning. The following is an excellent example and great image. [ The line on the left is from my scanner]

Having Kate Moss as a model / friend must be useful and there are a few of her in this book but I love the lighting and colour of this one, the red dress works so well.

I will try and expand on this post as I feel I have not done Mary the credit she deserves, I love this collection for its simplicity yet fantastic artistic form.  A must read ISBN 978-0-500-54392-4

Exercise: Tungsten & Fluorescent Lighting

In this exercise we are first asked just look out of  a window in a room lit with tungsten lighting after sunset for a minute then to turn and look inside the room. When I did this the room was immediately a very yellow shade. After my eyes had stabilised looking outside gave a bluer impression.

We were then asked to meter the room at various points, it was quite obvious that the room varied considerabley in available light by several stops, from the brightest parts around the lights to the corners of the room in the shadows; this is consistent with indoor tungsten lighting. In fact at f2.8 I would could only manage a shutter speed at 1/6 second at 100 ISO and the images in this exercise had to be taken at 1600 ISO as I did not have a tripod handy.

The next part of this exercise was to take three images through a window showing both the inside and outside. The three images were to vary by auto, daylight and tungsten white balance settings, all shown in that order below:

Firstly it can be seen that the daylight and auto white balance settings have given similar results, probably as the camera was focussed outside of the room. Here the white balance of the room is too yellow and incorrect, whereas the outside is perfect, similar to that of the first part of this exercise.

In the image where the white balance was set to Tungsten, the white balance of the room has been corrected but at a cost of the outside becoming too blue. 

The final part of this exercise is to take images inside a room lit with fluorescent bulbs, varying the images with  Auto and Fluorescent White Balance Settings. I only had access to a room with small CFL lamps and took the following images.

If I have to be honest there is very little difference in these two images, looking at them on the monitor the Fluorescent image has more colour and a little richer, but not much to speak of. I can only assume that the AWB setting on my camera has worked well. As stated earlier in this exercise I did not have opportunity for repeating the final part in a room with long fluorescent bulbs, but I do have a RAW image taken in a squash court full of fluorescent lighting and I am able to convert the RAW image with the required two white balance settings.

Here there is a difference in the colour of the walls, sadly though I think that the AUTO setting has actually taken a better image than the lower and bluer Fluorescent setting. In the first image the walls of this particular squash court are yellow, I am sure that this would have influenced the processing of the image too.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Exercise: Cloudy weather and Rain

This was an interesting exercise in which we are to take the same scene twice one in cloud and one in sunlight, both with the camera set to 'sunlight' White Balance. We are then to comment on the photographs in relation to the difference in light and colour.

We are then asked to take several images under cloud to demonstrate how the light has been diffused. And finally, we are to take a couple of images on rainy days to show that even rainy photographs can be creative.

The first two images are of a street scene taken in cloud and then the following day in sunlight. Both images were taken as 1SO 320 and 1/90 of second. However the first thing that is noticed is the available light, the first of cloudy image was metered at f5.6 whilst the sunny shot was taken at f16, quite a jump.

To me it is clear the sunlight image has a greater depth and contrast, whereas the cloudy image is a lot flatter. With that said I do find that the large shadow cast by the hedge too dark and distracting from the image, it also has lost all of the detail from the hedge.

The cloudy shot is most definitely 'bluer' in its overall colour cast as the camera compensates for what should be a blue sky. This is most noticeable in the colour of the tarmac on the road.

Another example is the two following shots of an old farm building taken on a cloudy day at f4 1/125 ISO 320, and in sunlight at f13 1/90 ISO 250, not a direct comparison but obviously  considerably more light at f13.

In these images I think that the sunshine works much better that the cloud. Firstly the blue sky gives a much better background than the dull grey clouds, and secondly I think that the contrast and shadows on the building adds interest compared to the rather 'flat' image taken in cloud.

The next three images were taken under diffused light (cloud). I think all three here work well with a good even lighting. The colour of the berries is even with no shadows and quite intense due to the low light. If taken under sunlight I think there would have been too many shadows with too much detailed being lost.

Finally, it was fun in the rain, the first image shows more the wind blowing in a puddle of water creating some effective ripples, in fact the wind was very strong that day it is almost impossible to see the falling rain.

The next three shots are self explanatory showing a rainy scene, and finally I took that last shot just after the rain had finished when the sun came out to capture the water droplets on some autumn leaves.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Exercise: Variety with a Low Sun

For this exercise we are to demonstarte taking images in low sun, I chose around 4 pm on a winters day and my subject was a statue of Sir Arther Conon-Doyle.

We were to take four images demonstarting frontal, side,back and edge lighting. I took many images on the day and have selected these as the best. Some were hard to take as it meant shooting towards the sun but the overall effects seem to have captured the exercise.

The first shot is is frontal lighting with the sun behind the camera shining directly onto the subject. Here the image is evenly lit.


The next image is from the side with the sun to my left. This is my favourite of the four images as the shadows cast seem to complement the face of the statue.

The next image was back lighting in which I shot towards the sun, this was the harder one to obtain without the sun blowing out everything. This image is rather flat as it is entirely in the shadow with no light at all, not great for a portrait.

The last image is supposed to show edge lighting, this is where the subject is largely in shade but the sun lighting  the subjects outline to give a halo effect, this is very becoming and interesting for portrait shots. This is a similar shot to the last one but I have tried to capture more light on the edge of his head.