Assignment 4: Applying Lighting Techniques.

For Assignment Four I need to take 8 photographs of a single subject - I have chosen a clementine - which aim demonstrate four particular qualities of the subject: shape; form; texture and colour. Working through the course text and set exercises as well as reading through some of the course books in the reading list (see bibliography at the end of this entry), I have developed an understanding of how lighting is used to show these different qualities of a subject. In this assignment I aim to find or create lighting environments that allow me to demonstrate these elements.


SHAPE

Photographing shape in this instance aims to show the subject with no form, that is, with no representation of a 3rd dimension. The image is to appear 2-dimensional. Of course, almost all photography is 2-dimensional but some images have a depth that is inferred and understood by other elements within the image. My aim is to remove these elements leaving only an outline; a flat representation of the subject.

This image shows the shape of the clementine only; there is no form to it and no clue to the fact that it has 3-dimensions. It could be a cardboard cut-out. This image was created by placing the clementine on a matt black card on top of a work surface and shooting towards a flashgun which was behind a diffuser. I had to shoot this on a timer so I could get into position to hold the diffuser in place.

This second image, to demonstrate shape, was taken outdoors against a low morning sun. The sun was slightly higher in the sky than I would have liked so the top of the fruit is lit a little more than the lower part. This can also be seen by how the pole that is was positioned on has a lot of reflection from its top.


Form

The form a subject has is a demonstration of its three dimensions. A subject with form is said to have mass, and volume (Prakel, 2012) although the image is 2-dimensional the tonal gradations achieved by certain types of lighting allow the viewer to mentally picture the subject as 3-dimensional.

In this image it was important to try and show that the clementine has 3-dimensions. There are a couple of important methods to help show this. First, I wanted to make sure that a shadow was cast, but that it wasn't too dominant in the image. I have therefore diffused the light from the flash to soften it. I also added some shadow fill from the left to lighten the shadowed side of the fruit. I was playing around with trying to make the background appear distant and although it wasn't exactly as I'd planned (some of the light from the flash spilled around the diffuser and a black card I was using encroached into the top right) it did add to the feeling of depth so I left it as it was. I noticed afterwards that the image was slightly out of focus, which was a little frustrating.

As with the 'studio' shot showing form, I have included a shadow as well as some background to show that the clementine is 3-dimensional.


Texture

The texture of a subject is not always visible if it isn’t lit in a certain way. Some textured surfaces, such as a ploughed field, need to be lit by a low raking light if it is to reveal texture – were it to be lit from directly overhead the texture would all but disappear (Prakel, 2013)

Other surfaces, notably the black leather bound book described in Light, Science and Magic (Hunter, Fuqua and Biver, 2012) require a different kind of lighting to reveal their texture.

Sometimes using a raking light can highlight the texture of a subject and I have employed this on the top of the fruit - using a flash to create hard shadows and emphasising the grooves. However, this would leave the rest of the fruit in too much shadow, so I have used a diffused flash from the right of the shot and a crumpled silver foil reflector on the bottom left of the image to hlghlight some of the dimples elsewhere on the fruit. I have deliberately cropped the image quite closely to bring the texture more clearly into view, and have chosen to position the subject to the left to give the impression of sunlight coming in from the top right. 

This image, as with the artificially lit shot, is again cropped quite closely to help show more of the texture. The raking light of the low sun casts shadows in the deeper grooves on the top of the fruit although some of the other detail is lost as there was little shadow fill or diffused light on the right and lower part of the fruit. I was deliberately not using any man-made reflectors or diffusers in the outdoor shots. Compared to the artificially lit shot, it does lack some detail in the texture for this reason.


Colour

When photographing a subject it can be very important that the colours are accurate. If the light is coloured for whatever reason it may affect how the subject appears. Getting the white balance right can be very important. Additionally, to accentuate colour it can help if the subject is slightly underexposed.  Overexposing a subject can desaturate the colours.

 

If there's one way to show a colour in an image it's to make the whole image more or less the same - and this is what I've done here. I bought some orange card from my local art shop and set up a shot indoors which was lit only by ambient light. The exposure time was 10 seconds. When I decided to try the shot I wasn't quite sure what to expect and I feel it hasn't quite come out as I was hoping; although I can't quite put my finger on what I was expecting or what I should change to improve it. It may be something I will experiment with in the future.

Outdoors, I went for more contrast. I bought some more card from the art shop and applying complementary colour theory, I set up a shot with the orange fruit as a point in the middle of a sea of blue.

Bibliography:

Freeman, M. (2007). The Photographer's Eye. Lewes: Ilex.

Prakel, D. (2012). Composition. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Academia.

Prakel, D. (2013). Lighting. London: AVA Publishing.

Hunter, F., Fuqua, P. and Biver, S. (2012). Light, Science & Magic. 4th ed. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Inc.