Artificial lighting

Now that I seem to be mastering manual mode and adjusting shutter speed, aperture and ISO to control my histogram and the levels of black, grey and white in my images I thought I would have another go with my daughters lights.

I set it up initially in the conservatory again which is not ideal as the changes in the sunlight caused a nuisance but I did move the backdrop and one light (Less space) into my lounge and pulled down the blinds. This enabled me to get more of the shots I was hoping for, god knows what the neighbours thought…Husband at home, curtains drawn! I also experimented with close-ups of the body to try to show shape and texture using the lighting.

Overall I was fairly pleased with how it went in a very short space of time, I definitely felt more in control of my equipment.

Is it quite clear in this first set of images that although I set the lights up differently each time the natural light in the room countered it so that the actual changes are only subtle. In this environment it might have made a difference if I had used flash lighting instead of continuous. I do however like the light on the third image as it is reflected in his eyes and lights his skin.

In this second set of images ( The first line uses a soft box, the second line does not) I moved the back drop and one continuous light into my lounge and pulled down the blinds so that I had no additional light sources other than the one light. The effect is far greater and much more effective.

Low Key Portaits croppedLow Key Portaits warm cropped

In this third set of images I tried to see if the darker setting and using the one light would help to add texture and define shape which I think was successful.

Low Key Close Ups cropped

The penny has dropped

Finally I am grasping manual mode! I think I always understood it but I was struggling to master making multiple adjustments. I just had to go back to basics and remember to count how many adjustments I made so I could make equal adjustments.

I also had to look at my camera set up and make some changes on there so that fingers crossed I shouldn’t get such high ISO’s, this can now be adjusted ONLY if I have a need.

I have a few more experiments / practice ideas I want to complete and then I will need to decide on which one to develop into my assignment.

Things still to try:

  • Photos at night though house/ shop windows or  may-be 24 hour venues
  • Night-time streets (Linked to above)
  • Low key portraits and hard lighting
  • Flower close-ups or pebbles (Using light for texture)
  • Fire station (Various light sources)
  • Shadows

Exercise 4.5

Make a Google Images search for ‘landscape’, ‘portrait’, or any ordinary subject such as ‘apple’ or ‘sunset’. Add a screen grab of a representative page to your learning log and note down the similarities you find between the images.
Now take a number of your own photographs of the same subject, paying special attention to the ‘Creativity’ criteria at the end of Part One. You might like to make the subject appear ‘incidental’, for instance by using juxtaposition, focus or framing. Or you might begin with the observation of Ernst Haas, or the ‘camera vision’ of Bill Brandt.
Add a final image to your learning log, together with a selection of preparatory shots. In your notes describe how your photograph differs from your Google Images source images of the same subject.

I decided (Whilst I should have been busy working) to screen grab a stapler… well I had been using one all morning! I also did a screen grab of a sellotape dispenser.

In all of these images they are pictured against a plain white background so that only the object is displayed. It is almost like a catalogue display, the object against a high key white background. They are almost always pictured at a 45 degree angle, I presume this is to show the objects shape and style in one image and to add a sense of depth which has been lost in the flat high key image.

I decided to explore the aesthetics and shape of these objects, I used a mixture of zoom lens and macro lens and tried to explore angles and lines. The images I have taken appear more abstract especially in some of them where the macro lens has softened the edges.

I found this exercise quite interesting in that I was making something plain and functional take on a whole new persona by experimenting with the style of the image and the angles.


I actually used two different staplers for these images, I love the way that the middle image on the last line looks more like a piano than a stapler and the last image has a insect look to it.


I love the first image of the sellotape on the edge and the close up of the sellotape,  if they were viewed separately I think you would not see what they were, they are so abstract. I also really like the fingerprint, It could almost be a forensic slide, but sellotape almost always has someone’s imprint left behind.



Exercise 4.4

Use a combination of quality, contrast, direction and colour to light an object in order to reveal its form. For this exercise we recommend that you choose a natural or organic object such as an egg, stone, vegetable or plant, or the human face or body, rather than a man-made object. Man-made or cultural artefacts can be fascinating to light but they also contain another layer of meaning requiring interpretation by the photographer; this exercise is just about controlling the light to reveal form.
You don’t need a studio light for this exercise; a desk lamp or even window light will be fine, although a camera flash that you can use remotely is a useful tool. The only proviso is that you can control the way the light falls on the subject.
Take some time to set up the shot. The background for your subject will be crucial. For a smallish object, you can tape a large sheet of paper or card to the wall as an ‘infinity curve’ which you can mask off from the main light source by pieces of card. You don’t need to use a curve if you can manage the ‘horizon line’ effectively – the line where the surface meets background. Taking a high viewpoint will make the surface the background, in which case the surface you choose will be important to the shot.
Exposure times will be much longer than you’re used to (unless you’re using flash) and metering and focusing will be challenging. The key to success is to keep it simple. The important thing is to aim for four or five unique shots – either change the viewpoint, the subject or the lighting for each shot.
Add the sequence to your learning log.  Draw a simple lighting diagram for each of your shots showing the position of the camera, the subject and the direction of the key light and fill. Don’t labour the diagrams; quick sketches with notes will be just as useful as perfect graphics. In your notes try to describe any similarities between the qualities of controlled lighting and the daylight and ambient artificial light shots from Exercises 4.2 and 4.3

I managed to set up some old portaflash lights and back drop (an EBay purchase of my daughters a while ago) so that I could experiment with artificial lighting. It took a short while to work out what everything did and I must say she has rather a lot of equipment in her £50 bundle. She doesn’t use it now so I might just keep hold of these although she only used one light and a backdrop anyway so I’m not even sure she knows what it all does!

I have to say considering this was just an experiment I was quite pleased with the results, not the actual images but the demonstration of lighting changes. There was still too much natural daylight in my conservatory so I will wait for it to get dark to fully experiment ,these are just my first shots. It’s funny how none of them really look like my husband and he was rather disappointed that he looked so bad! The only one my children thinks looks like him is the last one, I thought this was interesting. The various lighting changes do have a huge effect to the overall image and different areas stand out more than others.

Position of light

This is just my first experiments with positioning a lamp in relation to an object. I have acquired some second-hand lights which I will set up over the weekend to explore one light, two light and three light options. I started out on the light box however I moved to black card as I thought the contrast would help in showing the difference in lighting. In this instance I prefer the light being over head (4th Set) as it shows the petal details of the flower, the background has maintained its black hue without any glare from the light and the colour of the flower seems true to its original shade. The 5th image in the series where the flower is back-lit does however highlight the delicate nature of the flower as well as maintaining details in the petals.