Thursday, 4 July 2013

Assignment 4: Applying lighting techniques

For this assignment, we are required to take 8 photographs of the same object, using different lighting techniques to demonstrate:

  • Shape;
  • Form;
  • Texture; and
  • Colour
For 6 of these I have chosen to convert the image to black & white, as I felt that the monochrome look would convey shape, form and texture better than keeping it in colour.

Shape 1

This is a pretty traditional set-up to show shape, with the light in a softbox fired through the white backdrop.  The Speedlite was set to 1/4 power.  I am also using 2 black screens either side of the subject in order to minimise stray light.
Shape 1:  ISO 200, f/11, 1/125 sec
Shape 2

As an alternative to this approach I changed the lighting to be two snoots providing backlighting with a black velvet backdrop as in this diagram:
The result was like this:
Shape 2: ISO 200, f/11, 1/125
Here I have shown the shape of the pineapple, in particular its leaves, by using minimal light.  My greatest challenge here was to balance two dissimilar Speedlites and two different kinds of "snoot" modifiers.  On the left my Canon Speedlite was set at 1/4 power and the Nissin Speedlite on the right was set at 1/16 power.

Form 1

Here, the intention is to show the volume and depth of the subject through using shadows.  In the first case I used a traditional approach with a key light at 45 degrees to the left of the camera with a fill above the camera.  This is shown in the diagram below:
The result of this lighting arrangement was:
Form 1:  ISO 200, f/8, 1/125 sec
Form 2

For the second of this pair, I moved the key light on the left to be at 90 degrees and at the same height to the pineapple and a silver reflector brought in on the right.  This is shown in the diagram below:
I chose this time to come in close and feature just part of the pineapple.  The result is:
Form 2:  ISO 200, f/16, 1/125

Texture is concerned with showing surface detail, and there is plenty of it on a pineapple!  For both images I have come in close with the lens and discarded the fill light, but retained the silver reflector.  This is shown below:
This resulted in the following images:
Texture 1:  ISO 200, f/16, 1/125 sec
By having the light running along the surface of the leaves, the fine surface texture can be seen.
Texture 2:  ISO 200, f/16, 1/125 sec
Just as well the spikes which can be seen here are not stiff as these look decidedly lethal.


Having to change to colour for the final part, I chose 3 alternative approaches.  In the first I am using a macro approach to show the different greens in the skin and the leaves.
Colour 1:  ISO 200, f/22, 1/125 sec
In the second one of this sequence, I have used a second pineapple to show the yellow colour which is associated with pineapple.
Colour 2:  ISO 200, f/19, 1/125
Here I have given greater separation between the subject and the white backdrop to achieve this grey colour, which sets off the colours of the pineapple.  The diagram shows the lights arrangement.  This time both the fill light and the modelling, key lights are at full power.
For the third photo of this sequence, I have added a black backdrop, as I discovered this really dramatically changes the vibrance of the image and shows off the colours.  This is something that I have been playing around with, influenced by the way a black backdrop is used for photographing flowers as a still life.

The result is:
Colour 3:  ISO 200, f/19, 1/125
Final thoughts

I became rather absorbed by this part of the TAOP module and could have spent a great deal more time experimenting with different approaches.  I am particularly interested in studio photography and use of Speedlites in all situations as this gives greater control over light.  Seeing the light and how it is used to bring shape, form and most importantly character to the subject is essential in arriving at the desired result.  

Monday, 1 July 2013

Exercise: Shiny surfaces

Photographing objects which have a shiny surface are a particular problem which is difficult to resolve.  Commercially available light boxes or tents are a suitable solution and here I have tried to emulate such a light box using tracing paper rolled into a cone.

The general set up, my coffee table studio, is shown in the photograph below.
 I used a single softbox attached to a Speedlite with the camera on a tripod pointing downwards.  I chose black velvet material as the background surface on which I placed the shiny serving spoon.

To illustrate the problem, I took the following reference shot:
Reference:  ISO 200, f/8, 1/125 sec
There are reflections from all directions on this serving spoon, making a very unattractive image.  The solution to this was to create a light box or tent from tracing paper.  The result of this endeavour was:
Tracing paper cone:  ISO 200, f/11, 1/125 sec
The shine has gone and this would be a much better image had it not been for the black 'blob' which is the camera lens.  This proved impossible to remove satisfactorily with this setup, though moving the spoon around produced an alternative, image without the black blob.
Removing the blob:  ISO 200, f/11, 1/125 sec
This result is not ideal, and it just demonstrates how difficult it is to have a clean image of a shiny object.  Perhaps one of those commercially available tents / cubes.........