Category Archives: Part 4: Light

Exercise – Outdoors at night

Car lights-resized   Nikon D800e, 24mm f/2.8, 3 sec, f/22, ISO-50, WB-Tungsten.

Taking my camera out in the evening, I looked for interesting photographic opportunities that presented themselves as a result of typical street lighting.  In these shots I used a small digital point and shoot camera, this limited me to ISO settings and manual options but I feel that I was still able to find and make interesting images.

Reflections from a fashion window flipped-1 (1 of 1) Canon Digital IXUS 750, 8mm focal length, 1/6sec, f/2.8, ISO-400,  WB-Manual.

Fashion shop window with the reflection of the street.

Reflections of my dream villa from a spanish real-estate window-1 (1 of 1)    Canon Digital IXUS 750, 8mm focal length, 1/30sec, f/2.8, ISO-400,  WB-Manual.

Reflections of a dream.

Reflections from a plumbers merchant window flipped-1 (1 of 1)  Canon Digital IXUS 750, 8mm focal length, 1/2sec, f/2.8, ISO-400,  WB-Manual.

All the following images have an interesting mix or dominant colours as influenced by the artificial lighting found in typical public shopping streets and centres.

Reflections from a shoe shop window flipped-2 (1 of 1)  Canon Digital IXUS 750, 8mm focal length, 1/8sec, f/2.8, ISO-400,  WB-Manual.

Reflections from a shop window flipped-1 (1 of 1) Canon Digital IXUS 750, 8mm focal length, 1/50sec, f/2.8, ISO-400,  WB-Manual.

Shopping centre-2 (1 of 1)  Canon Digital IXUS 750, 8mm focal length, 1/20sec, f/2.8, ISO-400,  WB-Manual.

Shopping front flipped-1 (1 of 1)  Canon Digital IXUS 750, 8mm focal length, 1/25sec, f/2.8, ISO-400,  WB-Manual.

Shopping centre flipped-1 (1 of 1)  Canon Digital IXUS 750, 8mm focal length, 1/8sec, f/2.8, ISO-400,  +1.3 step, WB-Manual.

Shopping centre-3 (1 of 1) Canon Digital IXUS 750, 8mm focal length, 1/15sec, f/2.8, ISO-400,  WB-Manual.

Red light-1 (1 of 1)  Canon Digital IXUS 750, 8mm focal length, 1sec, f/2.8, ISO-100,  WB-Manual.

Images illuminated by sodium-vapour lamp light which is creating an impression of a negative print type photo.  The combination of moonlight, ghostly illumination of the building and camera angle helps to create an un-nerving feel to these pictures of the Anglican church in Weybridge Surrey.

Low_Res-7594 Nikon D800e, 24-120mm f/4 @27mm, 1/8sec, f/4, ISO-6400, WB-Auto.

Low_Res-7596 Nikon D800e, 24-120mm f/4 @55mm, 1/10sec, f/4, ISO-6400, WB-Auto.

Low_Res-7597  Nikon D800e, 24-120mm f/4 @24mm, 1/4sec, f/4, ISO-6400, WB-Auto.

Low_Res-7606 Nikon D800e, 24-120mm f/4 @24mm, 1/13sec, f/4, ISO-6400, WB-Auto.

Portrait, using only the illumination from a sodium vapour street light.


Nikon D800e, 24-120mm f/4 @120mm, 1/13sec, f/4, ISO-6400, WB-Auto.


Exercise – Tungsten and fluorescent lighting

In this exercise I waited until the evening light was closely matching the output from the tungsten bulbs in my apartment and took some portrait pictures with the white balance adjusted to three different settings to compare the resulting images.  The settings used was daylight, auto and tungsten.  The idea behind this exercise is to have a better understanding of the control of white balance and create ideas of how white balance can be used to manipulate the mood of an image and also to consider what more artistic options may be available by using white balance as a tool in the composition process.


Daylight (1 of 1)

In this image the overall effect is a warm golden yellow tone.  Nikon D800e, 50mm f/1.8, 1/30sec, f/1.8, ISO-640, +1 step exposure compensation.


Auto (1 of 1)

The auto white balance has produced a similar image to the daylight setting, perhaps more orange to the tone.  Nikon D800e, 50mm f/1.8, 1/90sec, f/2, ISO-1250, -1 step exposure compensation.


Tungsten (1 of 1)

The tungsten setting had created a very cold blue tone to this image.  Nikon D800e, 50mm f/1.8, 1/90sec, f/2, ISO-1250, -0.5 step exposure compensation.


Using fluorescent type technology energy saving bulbs to light this room, I took the following photos using the settings options of white balance from Auto, Fluorescent, Fluorescent A6 and Fluorescent B6 on my Nikon camera.  Nikon D800e, 24-120mm f/4 @ 120mm, 1/60sec, f/4, ISO-6400.

WB-Auto, colour temperature 2900.


WB-Fluorescent, colour temperature 3950.



WB-Fluorescent A6, colour temperature 4550.


WB-Fluorescent B6, colour temperature 3350.






Tutor’s report and my reflections on Assignment 4


I have received my Tutor report and I am both relieved and pleased that my work was well received and met the criteria.  Tutor Report Shaun Mullins 512659 asst 4 TAOP

I chose portraits as this is where I expect to specialize as a professional photographer and my wife was the willing (if not long suffering) model.

I considered this section and assignment the most important part of the course for the very reason that knowledge, understanding and control of light must be key to a good photographer.  Without the appreciation of this subject a photographer is likely to be relying on luck rather than judgement for a good image, this maybe Okay for a casual amateur perhaps but when you are taking somebodies money then you are expected to know what you are doing and to be consistent with your standard of work.  Therefore, I felt that I needed more time on this subject and I now feel much more confident in this very important area of photography.

Like everyone else I am confined to budget constraints and I am currently unable to invest in very expensive lighting equipment.  However, I have found that I can get by for the time being using cheaper speedlights and Pocket Wizards.  You can obtain reasonably good speedlights for around £60 each and the main expense is the Pocket Wizards (although cheaper options are available).  I like to look to the longer term when choosing equipment, the speedlights will always come in handy and the Pocket Wizards are both reliable and compatible with more expensive lighting equipment.  I took a piece of advice from one of the authors of my books on lighting, he stated that before purchasing a second speedlight buy a hand held light meter first.  This piece on investment will carry forward for when I have the chance to use larger more professional strobes.

Michael suggests that I could have extended my creativity by applying a more visually creative context such as emotion to the my work to link the images in to a context.  Yes, on reflection this was a good idea and when I was first concentrating on texture I originally was thinking along similar lines for the theme of soft and hard but I got worried that I was departing from the basic required criteria.


85mm f/1.4, 1/250sec, f/3.2, ISO-125, WB-tungsten, remote flash with tungsten Gel 1/64.  Image taken over Sarah’s shoulder of her reflection in bathroom mirror.  Speedlight 2′ to Sarah’s  left on the sink unit pointed up to her face controlled with a Pocket Wizard.

This image was my first attempt at “hard” and was intended to produce a more emotional feel; but I was concerned that I was not creating texture but mood and that wasn’t the brief; so I decided to play it safe and simply create an un unflattering portrait with an obvious visual texture as per the brief.  Perhaps, with more thought and planning I could achieve both but my priority was to finish my assignment on time.

Shape – image 1.


This image needed to be a little sharper with the forehead darkened with just edge lighting and for the top lip under the nose.

Form – image 4


Michael comments that the highlight on the nose competes with the whites of the eyes.  An interesting observation that I had not considered and clearly I need to start looking more critically at my work to help my learning curve and improve on a polished piece of work.  This image could be improved in Photoshop to brighten / burn the whites of the eyes and perhaps dodge the highlights on the nose.  However, in my defence, if I had noticed this I may have been tempted to use Photoshop and this would have been cheating.  I have kept adjustments to a minimum in order to demonstrate my newly acquired knowledge.  Having said that I probably will now have a play in Photoshop to improve this image as my Photoshop skills are still very basic and needs improving with practice.

Colour – image 8

DSC_4692-Edit-resized  DSC_4103-Tricolori-resized

Mike tells me that I could have got away with using the second image here with Italian flag concept; but I am glad of my final choice as it has thrown up a very useful and important learning issue for me.  That of differences of colour reproduction between the printed image and the screen image.  I have read about this subject and I regularly re-calibrate my screen using a colour spyder however, my mistake was to simply get prints made at my local Tescos that has a photo printing facility.  The resulting print produced an excess yellow in the skin and hair as the printers defaults did not match the colour profile of the photo and I did not consider this when getting it printed.  If I had used the Italian flag image this may not have been highlighted and a learning opportunity would have been missed.  This is an area I still don’t yet fully understand but is clearly an important subject to learn and fully understand if I am to be able to obtain and provide quality end results.

My thanks to Mike for his valuable and generous comments.

Assignment four – Applying lighting techniques

The Brief

In this assignment I am using the various lighting techniques that I have learned in order to create a selection of images that bring out particular physical properties of the same object.  I have chosen to make a portrait study of my wife as my chosen subject to photograph for this assignment.

Back_lighting_3852-2-resized Profile_shape_DSC_3783-resized DSC_4584-form-resized DSC_4618-form-1-resized DSC_4657-soft-resized DSC_4793-a-hair-resized DSC_4434-Candle-light-resized-a DSC_4692-Edit-resized



Sarah wearing a Cloche hat. 105mm f2.8, 1/250sec f/3, ISO-50.

Shape – What defines shape?

A shape is an object that stands out from it’s surroundings, in order to be seen or notices, it has a definable edge to it but it may not have much detail.  Indeed an object with a defined edge and very little or no detail is nothing more than a shape.  However, a shape has to have some quality that offers some clue as to it’s identity or otherwise it may as well be described as – and simply called – a blob.

Chosen images

Profile_shape_DSC_3783-resized  Back_lighting_3852-2-resized

I chose these two images to submit for assessment as I felt that both of these pictures define shape very nicely and interestingly.

My first image has Sarah looking info the picture towards the negative space.  The image has been lit to provide just enough information so as to the identity of the subject using the contrast of highlights against the dark background to define the faces edge and shape.


Sarah in edge lighting was photographed against a black back ground with two naked speed lights set on stands behind her, one to her left and one to her right, both above her and angled down towards her at 45 degrees.  The lefts light was set at 1/32 and the right set to 1/64 and both operated via the camera using Pocket Wizards.  The camera was set on a tripod with a cable release for tripping the shutter, 105mm f/2.8 lens, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 125. Small adjustments made to sharpness and tonal contrast in Lightroom.

My second is Sarah one of her favourite hats.


Sarah in the hats was taken against a white back cloth illuminated by two speed lights in soft-boxes in order to evenly spread the light across the screen behind Sarah.  The speedlights were both adjusted to 1/16 and controlled by Pocket Wizards.  Ideally I would have liked to have included a black screen behind the camera but I did not have enough space in my dinning room.  I compensated by adjusted my ISO to ISO 50 and to be sure the back ground was as neutral as possible I used the f/3 for minimum depth of field, shutter speed 1/250 sec.  105mm, f/2.8 lens, tripod mounted camera and the shutter tripped using a cable.   Some small adjustments were made in Lightroom to sharpen the image, and add additional tonal contrast.  My choice was between this and the cloche hat to submit; and although the cloche hat produces a simple cameo effect I preferred this ‘ascot’ hat had image which retains some additional detail in tones for the hat.


Describing an objects three dimensional form and or it’s volume.




85mm f/1.4, 1/250sec, f/5.6, ISO125, 3 x speedlights operated via pocket wizards, soft-box and reflectors.

In this high key image Sarah’s pose appears to be coming out of the picture frame.  For a backdrop I used a white sheet illuminated by two speedlights in soft-boxes to evenly light it and set it back about 1.5m from Sarah in order to maximize the benefit of a shallow depth of field to loose any folds/creases that might otherwise show up.  The main key light was a speedlight set to 1/64 in a 24 x 24 soft-box above and 45 degrees to Sarah’ s right (left of the picture) and a white reflector set on a stand to Sarah’s immediate left.  Sarah was also holding a silver reflector to her chest angled up to fill shadows under her chin, etc.  As a result, I think that this lighting set up has created a nice modelling effect of Sarah’s face putting a nice shadow under her nose and just over her top lip. there is soft shadow on her left cheek and nice highlights on her right cheek and on parts of her face and nose without any blown out areas.  I believe that the white background helps push the image forward and give is a nice definable edge all the way around.


105mm f/2.8, 1/250 sec, f/3, ISO125.

For my second image I chose this low key idea.  Standing on a step ladder above Sarah as she sat below me on a chair, I lit this image using a soft-box above Sarah and to her right with a white reflector to her left but moved a little further away to only give a small amount of fill-light to her left side.  I reduced the power down to 1/128 on the speedlight and exposed for the highlights.  I believe that the combination of lighting and depth of field draws the viewer through and down thus creating a sense of a three dimensional depth to the picture.



85mm f/1.4, 1/250sec, f/2.8, ISO125.

Soft – In this exercise, I have photographed for a soft look.  Using a remote speedlight set to 1/64 +0.3 EV in a large 34 x 34 soft box directly in front of Sarah and set on a stand directly above the camera. By using large diffused flat light source combined with a narrow depth of field I believe that I have produced a much more flattering soft texture to Sarah’s face.  I chose to position Sara by a window in our kitchen to help provide a natural high key background.


105mm f/2.8, 1/250sec, f/5.6, ISO125, WB flash.

Hard and sharp – A less than flattering portrait of Sarah capturing the texture of Sarah hair and to her skin, the hard edge lighting helps to sharpen the image.  To obtain this image I have used hard strobe lighting, set behind Sarah to the left side and right side of the room.  Sarah also held a reflector in front of her to bounce light on to her face.  I mounted the camera on a tripod, manually focused and operated the strobes via Pocket Wizards.  The Speed light left of camera was set to 1/16 and fitted with a reflector beauty dish with a honeycomb grill attached to direct the light.  The speedlight to right of the camera was set to 1/32 and fitted in to the shell of a 24 x 24 soft-box with a honeycomb cloth grill attached; so as to act as a large direction reflector.  Behind the camera I had set up a black screen to prevent light bouncing back on to the subject from my light green walls.  Behind Sarah I had screened off our French windows to prevent light illuminating the background.



105mm f/2.8, 1/250sec, f/4, +1step, ISO125, WB – Daylight.

In this deliberate colour cast image, I set the WB to daylight but illuminated the scene using a camera mounted speedlight set to 1/8 with a ‘Oklahoma yellow’ Rogue Gel attached and the speedlight was fitted inside a small soft-box and aimed to bounced off the ceiling from Sarah’s right to suggest that her face is being illuminated by the candle which is in fact just a prop.


105mm f/2.8, 1/13sec, f/3, ISO-125

My wife is part Italian; so I thought it would be fun to try to incorporate the colours of the Italian flag in this portrait.  Controlled by Pocket Wizards I used three speed lights, two gelled and one plain, I set up white fabric backdrop that was lit on one side with an un gelled speedlight in a soft-box and on the other side a green gelled speedlight inside a soft-box to illuminate to other side of the backdrop.  I then set a red gelled speedlight in to a 24 x 24 soft-box positioned above and at 45 degrees to Sarah’s left to illuminate half her face.  I positioned a reflector to Sarah’s right between Sarah and the Backdrop to catch some of the white light and bounce on to her right side for fill light.


85mm f1.4, 1/250sec f/1.8, ISO-125 WB-Sunlight.

On reflection – I have decided to replace my image of Sarah lit by two different coloured gels in preference to this picture that on re-reading the criteria, I feel meets the requirements as stated in the brief, that is to choose a lighting and exposure that shows the subject’s colour as strongly as possible.  This image was taken during the same session for obtaining a soft look.  The lighting process and exposures were very similar.  I used a speedlight in a 34 x 34 soft-box set at 1/128; so as not to overpower the natural light coming through the kitchen window.  I feel that this has created an attractive flesh tone and the sunlight has brought out the colour in Sarah’s hair and produced a natural highlight to the side of her face.








Exercise – Variety with a low sun

For this exercise I took some portrait photos of my wife Sarah whilst on holiday in Spain.

Frontal lighting (1 of 1)    50mm, f/1.8, ISO-125, f/11, 1/250 sec, WB-sunlight

Frontal lighting –  With my back to the sun and Sarah facing in to the sun the light produces a fairly even illumination over the face but it is difficult to avoid a squinting expression; so I asked Sarah to pull a face.  The light flattens the face and the bright sunlight has produced hard shadows under the chin.  Highlights of the nose , cheeks and forehead are a result of the hard light.

Side lighting (1 of 1)   50mm, f/1.8, ISO-125, f/11, 1/250 sec, WB-sunlight

Side lighting – Positioning Sarah so the light is falling on her left side I have created a more broad lighted modelled image of Sarah with her right side of her face in shadow.

Back lighting (1 of 1)   105mm f/2.8, ISO-125, f/3, 1/125 sec, +1 step, WB-sunlight.

Back lighting – In this image I positioned Sarah between myself and the sunlight.  This I think has produced a nice image with highlights on the edge of her nose, under her lip chin and arm and producing short lighting across her face as I asked her to turn her head slightly back towards the light.  I would categorize this as a high-key image.

Edge lighting (1 of 1)  50mm, f/1.8, ISO-125, f/4.8, 1/750 sec, WB-sunlight

Edge lighting – To achieve this I chose a position were the sun was just behind some rocks whilst Sarah posed between myself and the light from the light spilling from around those shading rocks.  This produced the edge lighting on Sarah’s arm, face and hair.  I would categorize this image as a low-key image.


Exercise – Light through the day

Finding both a suitable and fairly interesting subject and that was accessible and practical to be able able to visit at different times of the day and possibly on different days was tougher than I first thought.  The subject I settled on was a location in Spain close to my apartment.

View (1 of 1)

After some scouting around, I found my subject of a ruined Spanish windmill on the sea front with the imposing “Ifach” rock in the background which both will alter in appearance as the sun moves across the sky.

Standing point (1 of 1)

I then decided upon the exact spot on which to take all my shots from.  I decided to use my Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens which lighter for the camera and I used the view finder grid display in order to help recompose for the same view for each visit.  As I was on holiday, it hadn’t been possible to bring a tripod with me; so I would had to hand hold the camera and relay on high ISO settings in the very low light conditions.  Fortunately may camera has a remarkable ISO range in order to cope for such challenging circumstances.  All shots taken with white balance set to sunlight.

06-04 (1 of 1)

Getting up at 5:30 I raced down to the sea front in order to reach my subject before the sun began to rise.  This first shot was taken at 6:04 local time.  The sun is just beginning to lighten the sky but the street lights are the dominant source in order to illuminate the windmill.  ISO-8063, f/2.8, 1/60 sec.

06-16 (1 of 1)

6:16, ISO-8063, f/3.3, 1/60 sec.  12 minutes on the sky is quickly lightening with some pink colour from the dawn light the street lights are still the most dominant on the windmill; but the rock is now beginning to be illuminated by the sun and colour from it’s sandstone origin is becoming visible.

06-24 (1 of 1)

6:24, ISO-6400, f/5.6, 1/60 sec.  The early dawn light is now overtaking the dominance  for illuminating the windmill and the sky is now much lighter with more pink light visible and the rock is already much revealing more detail.

06-52 (1 of 1)

6:52, ISO-3200, f/5.6, 1/5000 sec.  Very much lighter the street lights are now turned off the windmill is only illuminated by the dawn and I have been able to use a fast shutter speed on a slower ISO setting.

07-37 (1 of 1)

7:37, ISO-800, f/5.6, 1-1500 sec.  The sun is beginning to get high enough to start shinning directly on the windmill and stone inside is reflecting light through the window.  The rock too is reflecting light from the sun beginning to model it’s shape with much more detail emerging.

07-39 (1 of 1)

7:39, ISO-800, f/5.6, 1/1500 sec. The sun is now much higher and both the rock and the windmill is getting light to model both their shapes.

07-47 (1 of 1)

7:47, ISO-800, f/6.7, 1/2000 sec.  This image provides to good modelling of the windmill; so clearly illustrating its curved shape.  The rock however is just beginning to loosing the high lights that emphasises it’s own shape.

07-58 (1 of 1)

7:58, ISO-125, f/5.6, 1/125 sec. The sun is now much higher ant the modelling effect is still very effective on the windmill; but the rock is loosing it’s punch as a result of both haze and less effective directional light to model it’s shape.  The sun is much brighter and my ISO is much lower whilst still obtaining a fast shutter for hand held operation.

10-12 (1 of 1)

10:12, ISO-125, f/9.5, 1/350 sec.  The sun has now moved to a position in the sky where there is no modelling light on the rock and hardly any on the windmill.

13-13 (1 of 1)

13:13, ISO-125, f/13, 1/180.  The sun is now more or less overhead, I have reduced the shutter speed for greater depth of field the haze has burned off and I can get better detail of the rock thanks to the highlights that have added texture to it.  However, the windmill in the foreground looks fairly two-dimensional.

17-16 (1 of 1)

17:16, ISO-125, f/13, 1/350.  Which a lower sun both the rock and windmill have a more modelled and textured appearance.  Thanks also to the greater depth of field to the image.  The clouds have been burned away by the hot sun leaving a clear blue sky background.

18-35 (1 of 1)

18:35, ISO-125, f/4.8, 1/750.  At this angle the light from the sun becomes more golden in colour, texture in the stone of the windmill however the light does not provide much benefits regarding modelling the curve of the tower and the rock also looks less interesting despite it’s brightness and colour.

18-58 (1 of 1)

18:58, ISO-125, f/6.7, 1/1500 sec.  In this image we have a nice dark edge to the windmill a graduation of the shadow as it reached the tallest part of the tower and light lit stone beyond, this I would describe as broad lighting.  The rock is also nicely lit providing some nice contrasts to create texture and modelling.  The image still maintains a golden appearance.

20-26 (1 of 1)

20:26, ISO-125, f/8, 1/500 sec.  This must be the golden-hour, the rock and windmill both have a warm yellow hue and both are nicely lit for modelling and texture.

21-12 (1 of 1)

21:12, ISO-400, f/8, 1/60.  The sun is disappearing over the horizon and as the light disappears the windmill and rock looks flatter and duller.

21-19 (1 of 1)

21:19,  ISO-250, f/8, 1/60 sec.  The light is quickly disappearing and I am raising my ISO again to compensate.  The windmill are both looking flatter and the colours are more blue grey dominated.  The sky a deeper blue looks richer as it is quickly turning to black.

Clearly, there is a short period early in the morning and during and just after sunset when for the best opportunities to get really good images.  Preparation, patients and good timing are essential ingredients.   I also think that perhaps the use of a graduated neutral grey filter could also have been employed to even better results to bring out more dramatic colours from the sky.






Exercise-Measuring Exposure-2

In this exercise I have taken 5x images of the same subject to learn how the deliberate choice to slightly over or under-expose may sometimes benefit the picture.

The first as recommended by the camera’s light meter, the second half-stop darker, third one-stop darker, fourth half-stop lighter and fifth one-stop lighter.

This exercise is typically known as ‘Bracketing’ and this idea originates from the days of film photography.  When a subject has both challenging contrasts of light and shade photographers would often take 3 or 5 shots at different exposures to try to get an image that was closest to capturing detail in both dark areas of an image and in the bright areas.  Starting from the light meters recommended exposure to above and below in half or one-stop increments. Manufactures such as Nikon added this as a feature in their later SLRs and for the newer DSLRs keeping the name ‘Bracketing’.  This useful feature will automatically alter the exposure for the chosen number of shots from half-stop to one-stop increments with the choice of number of shots from 3, 5, 7, etc.  With the advent of digital photography and the development of software to manipulate the digital images ‘Bracketing’ has become a new science and art-form in the photography world with the development of High Dynamic Range (HDR) software that can combine all the bracketed images into one picture that can now make possible the inclusion of all the detail in both bright areas and dark areas of a scene that previously was not.  This however, often makes for a very hard / gritty contrasty type of image limiting their use.

Images shot as recommended by the light meter.
Average-1-resized Average-2-resized Average-3-resized Dad-1-mid-tone (1 of 1) Dad-2-mid-tone (1 of 1)

1a                             2a                                      3a                                      4a                       5a

Half a stop darker
Half_stop_darker-1 Half_stop_darker-2-resized Half_stop_darker_3-resized Dad-1-minus-half-stop (1 of 1) Dad-2-minus-half-stop (1 of 1)

1b                            2b                                     3b                                    4b                        5b

One stop darker
One_stop_darker-1-resized  One_stop_darker-2-resized One_stop_darker_3-resized Dad-1-minus-one-stop (1 of 1) Dad-2-minus-one-stop (1 of 1)

1c                            2c                                        3c                                       4c                       5c

Half a stop lighter
Half_stop_lighter-1-resized Half_stop_lighter-2-resized Half_stop_lighter-3-resized Dad-1-plus-half-stop (1 of 1) Dad-2-plus-half-stop (1 of 1)

1d                           2d                                      3d                                      4d                       5d

One stop lighter
One_stop_lighter-1-resized One_stop_lighter-2-resized Oner_stop_lighter-3-resized Dad-1-plus-one-stop (1 of 1) Dad-2-plus-one-stop (1 of 1)

1e                           2e                                      3e                                      4e                        5e

My selection of best images are as follows:

1c This provides the most contrast in the detail of the stone figure with shadows offering a good sense of texture and form.  This image is one-stop over the recommended exposure as indicated through my camera’s light meter.

2a In this subject I think that the recommended exposure works best.

3c Again the darker, one-stop above recommended exposure works best for Holly’s fur coat.

4d I feel that this image looks best, half-stop brighter than the suggested exposure giving an up beat / high-key tone.

5a I believe that this is the best choice and is the exposure recommended by my camera’s light meter.  It has some rim-light that helps him stand out from the background and there is sufficient contrast for a modelling affect.

Reference material:

Basics Photography 07, Exposure.  by David Prakel. Published by AVA Publishing



Exercise-Measuring exposure-part-1

In this exercise I have taken photographs using my light meter to help me produce images that are either deliberately lighter (high-key) or darker (low-key) to suit the intention of the subject.

My first image was deliberately intended to be dark to create an atmosphere of mystery and imagination. Is he entering this room or is spying on someone?
Beyond the door-resized
I used spot metering to take a reflective reading off the chrome door handle in order to get an overall dark effect with a bright slit shining through as the door is opened and good exposure for my hand. Narrow depth of field to add depth, camera set to manual, ISO 400, WB – Auto. f/2.0, 1/60sec hand held, ambient light only. This exposure was 4x stops above the suggested averaged exposure of 1/25sec to under-expose the image. Post production was kept minimal with very little cropping needed, just a small adjustment for levelling and the image sharpened and no other adjustments made.


For this image, I overexposed by one stop, ignoring my camera’s suggested setting of 1/100 at f/5.6 and using a setting of 1/50 at f/5.6 instead for a brighter image whilst remaining inside the boundary of the Histogram to avoid clipping the high lights.

In this image the room was dark; so I over exposed by one full f-stop in order to compensate and make the image brighter.
My camera recommended 1/90, f/2.4 I chose 1/90, f/3.3 instead.
_Plus_one_full_F_stop (1 of 1)

In this last low-key image, taken in the garden on an overcast afternoon, I took this image two stops below the camera’s recommended exposure of 1/2000, f/4 choosing 1/8000, f/4 to create a darker and more sinister feel for this still-life.
ISO 400, white balance sunlight.
Demons (1 of 1)

Exercise – Cloudy weather and rain

Views seen under sunny and cloudy conditions, white balance set to daylight/sunlight.

1-1000_f-9.5_in_sun (1 of 1) 1-1000_f-8_in_shade (1 of 1)
The right image was captured in sunshine and the left image under cloud.
A half-stop aperture adjustment was required to maintain a balanced exposure.
In my opinion this subject looks better in sunshine as it adds contrast and modelling for a sense of a 3D affect.

1-2000_f-6.7_in_sun (1 of 1) 1-1000_f-6.7_in_shade (1 of 1)
The right image was captured in sunshine and the left image under cloud.
1/2000, f/6.7 in sun and 1/1000, f/6.7 in shade. I altered shutter speeds between these two shots and there is a full one-stop difference to maintain a balanced exposure. I prefer the image made in sunshine that I think creates a mood to match the subject.

1-3000_f-5.6_in_sun (1 of 1) 1-1500_f-5.6_in_shade (1 of 1)
The right image was captured in sunshine and the left image under cloud.
This last two images were taken with one full-stop shutter difference between the image taken in sunshine and the other in shade. I personally think that the image taken under cloud produces a more suitable image to match the mood of dereliction and decay.

Detail on an overcast day.
A_Rose_under_a_cloud (1 of 1) Blue_Blooms_under_a_cloud (1 of 1)
Under cloudy sky conditions the soft light appears to give the colours a more saturated and richer hue.
Rocks_under_a_cloud (1 of 1)
The soft light from the overcast grey skies brings out the texture of the stone more clearly and all three images are colder with a hint of blue to their white balance. All images have been captured in daylight setting on the camera and not adjusted.

Rain – Below are images taken over a couple of rainy days.

View from a car-1 (1 of 1) Stepping in a puddle (I like the pattern of the smiley man in the water) and a view through a wet car windscreen with the outside world blurred out with just the rain drops in sharp focus. Walking in the rain (1 of 1) Wet walk (1 of 1) People hurrying through the rain and damp pavements reflecting the light. Opulent reflection (1 of 1) Wet reflection (1 of 1) Reflections Wet range (1 of 1) Light and shade.

Exercise – Shinny surfaces

Unsuitable (1 of 1)

In this exercise, I took on the challenge of photographing a highly polished metal surface. As you can see the subject I have chosen to use also presents an additional challenge as it is curved and rounded so as to increase the size of the reflective family of angles that the camera will see.

The problem that presents itself to photographers when taking photos of reflective objects is that by their very nature the object is likely to give unwanted reflections of perhaps the studio, camera, lights and even the photographer. If this first image was for a paying client then it would be totally unacceptable.

Needs improoving (1 of 1)
The solution is to block the reflection of the studio, etc. from the butter dish by using a lighting tent. These can be purchased or a home made light tent can be easily made using tracing paper rolled in to a cone with the narrow top end around the lens of the camera and the bottom wide end around the subject and just out of view from the cameras view. Now we have am image with fewer objectionable reflections, but we can still see the camera’s lens and there is an objectionable reflection from where the tracing paper meets together.

Almost (1 of 1)
I recomposed moving the butter dish cover and adding a spoon to block the reflection of the lens. (If this was a professional shoot a knife would have been a more appropriate prop; but I couldn’t find anything suitable; so as this is an exercise the spoon will do just as well.) I then turned the tracing paper until the shadow of the join was over the length of the spoon and thus disappeared. But there is still a reflection of a shadow created by the black tripod appearing as a faint silhouette in the reflection.

Happy (1 of 1)
By simply taping some tracing paper around the leg of the tripod that was creating the shadow I was able to solve the problem and finally I have an expectable image of my shinny butter dish. I only cropped the image in Lightroom and made no other adjustments.

For lighting I used a speedlight in a soft-box set on a light stand opposite the camera above and behind the subject. I set the speedlight to 1/1 power, TTL controlled using a TT5 Pocket Wizards on the speedlight and TT1 Pocket Wizards on my camera. I set the to ISO-400 using 105mm f2.8 macro lens. My first image was at 1/10sec f/22. All the other images made in the tent where all at 1/8sec, f/22.