Monday, September 24, 2012

Assignment Four - Light

Websters dictionary defines photography as “the art or process of producing images by action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface”(1). This makes studying light of particular importance for any and all photographers. Without light we cannot tame pictures. For a photographer light is tied in with contrast and brightness to show tonal relationships. There is an Italian expression “chiaroscuro” which speaks of the dramatic modeling of subjects in paintings by the use of shafts of light used to illuminate any dark scenes(2). As well as using light to express contrast and brightness, it is also used to highlight colour. This can be done with coloured light bulbs, but even white light comes in different colours(3). One thing I have been experimenting with since starting this module is experimenting with white balance. Changing one simple setting has such a dramatic effect on the colour of a photograph and it’s interesting using it for creative effect (especially tungsten/shade).

Another experiment has been looking at how other photographers use light and I have begun studying August Sander(4) and Edward Watson(5) (his nudes in particular although I found his photographs of shells fascinating also) as suggested by my tutor. When attending photography exhibitions now I am always looking at the use of light, colour, shapes and composition. Some of Sally Mann’s landscape work where she has documented battle fields makes lovely use of light and shadows in particular.

For this assignment I wanted to chose a subject that was portable and had an interesting form, shape and texture so it wouldn’t become dull photographing a series of pictures of it. I settled on a ornate candle holder from my mantlepiece. It is a set of two and I preferred the skirt that the female of the pair wore so she became my final choice. I tried to vary my composition and experiment with a few different ideas that I hadn’t tried previously which I think came out quite nicely. There are still a few that look a little similar to each other composition wise, but overall I think the collection as it is short holds the observers interest.

Colour 1

ISO 100
f7.1
1/125s
WB Sunlight

Taken with the subject placed in the sun at the middle of the day. I wanted the sunshine to show the actual colour of the subject and have it lit in a pleasing manner so I experimented with where I positioned the subject to get the effect I wanted. I settled for the sun being at the side so it wasn’t so harsh shining on the slightly metallic texture.



Colour 2

ISO 200
f9
1/60s
WB 5560K

Shot indoors against a black cloth background. I used a piece of coloured clear plastic taped to the front of the flash to experiment with the colour. First I tried a blue/aqua colour but I wasn’t happy with the results so moved to purple which I liked much more. I like the colour effect and that it still brings out all of the detail of the subject. 



Form 1

ISO 100
f7.1
1/200s
WB sunlight

Taken in the morning, two hours after sunrise. Positioned so that the sunlight came from the side to give a sense of shadows and form. I wanted the light to help create a three dimensional effect and not have the subject looking flat. The blurred background helps the subject to stand out.



Form 2

ISO 100
f9
1/60
WB 5560K

Taken indoors with a flash fired from behind a white umbrella to act as a diffuser. Light stand placed to the side to emphasize shadows and form. Again I wanted to see the shadows on the subject to really feel like it is a three dimensional object and not just a drawing on a black background. 



Shape 1

ISO 100
f7.1
1/250s
WB sunlight

Taken in the morning, two hours after sunrise to give the long shadow. Positioned with the sun behind me shining into the subject. I tried this in black and white as well but settled on the colour version. I wanted the shape of the subject as well as the shape replicated in the shadow and found this time of day and position worked the best after experimenting.



Shape 2

ISO 100
f11
1/800s
WB sunlight

Taken in the morning, two hours after sunrise. Taken on my NIkon DLSR and processed using Snapseed on my iPad. I knew I was going to do a silhouette as soon as I saw the exercise, it was the first idea that came to me. I took this when the sun was low so I could take the shot with the sun behind the subject and I balanced it on a post box. I then decided to experiment a bit and use an editing app to make the effect more dramatic. 



Texture 1

ISO 100
f11
10s
WB 5560K

Taken indoors using a long exposure. I had read a few magazine articles on light painting so decided to experiment for texture. I focused manually, locked it and then turned off all the lights. I then used a small hand held torch to paint/bathe the subject in light during the ten seconds. I wanted to bring out every last detail and all the folds of the skirt.



Texture 2

ISO 200
f7.1
1/125
WB shade

Taken in the shade in the middle of a sunny day. I found doing the exercises that shade on a nice day brought out details and textures so I wanted to try this for the assignment with a different composition. I like the skirt and the detail on the tights so focused on those areas eliminating the rest of the subject.




1 Websters Dictionary (1839)
2 The Photographers Eye - Michael Freeman (2007) Ilex, East Sussex

3 Light: Science and Magic (4th Edition) - Fil Hunter, Steve Biver, Paul Fuqua (2012) Focal Press, Oxford

4 Face of Our Time - August Sander (1994/2003) Schirmer Art Books, London

5 Icons - Edward Watson (2008) Taschen, London






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