Exercise 37 Contrast and Shadow Fill

Exercise 37 is about contrast and shadow fill. We are asked to use a simple still life subject and take a series of shots with and without diffusers and with and without reflectors.

For this exercise and for some of the other still life exercises I build a “colour box” modelled on the one used by David C. Halliday in his Colour Box Series and selected peppers as my subject. The colour box is a simple wooden box open at one end and with a hole cut in one side. the subject is placed in the box and lit through the hole.

Series 1 – With Diffusers

Fig. 01 Series 1 - With Diffusers

Fig. 01 Series 1 – With Diffusers

All the photographs are taken with an off camera flash gun. I tried a few different solutions to soften the light. The single diffuser (top left) is a thin piece of translucent plastic, the flash gun is on 1/2 power. This did not give enough softness so I added a small soft box and a photographic diffuser to the flash gun on 1/1 power (top right) and finally I tried adding thin plastic netting between the soft box and the plastic sheet (middle left) with the flash gun on 1/1 power.

Using the 3 x diffuser set-up and the flash gun on 1/1 power I tried three variations of reflector.

Fig. 02 Three Diffusers, Silver Foil Reflector and Flash Gun on 1/1 Power - 1/160 at F16, ISO 100

Fig. 02 Three Diffusers, Silver Foil Reflector and Flash Gun on 1/1 Power – 1/160 at F16, ISO 100

Fig. 02 was the most successful shot, there is enough reflected light yo show form and colour on the dark side and the overall colour has stayed strong.

Series 2 – No Diffusers

Fig. 03 Series 2 - No Diffusers

Fig. 03 Series 2 – No Diffusers

In each case the single flash gun is on 1/2 power. The flash gun is further from the subject so that the hole stayed black.

Fig. 02 No Diffusers, and No Reflector and Flash Gun on 1/2 Power - 1/160 at F16, ISO 100

Fig. 02 No Diffusers, and No Reflector and Flash Gun on 1/2 Power – 1/160 at F16, ISO 100

From this series my preference is the image with no reflectors. Even with the flash gun on 1/2 power when there are no diffusers there is enough light entering the box to bounce back from the rough grey painted surface of the side of the box.

Conclussion

Contrast – Hard light and no reflectors (just the grey box side) creates the blackest shadows and the most contrast

Reflection – The white card reflected more light than silver foil or a silver photo reflector

Spread – Diffused lights spreads more than hard light

Colour – The hard light seemed to emphasise the colour

Texture – With the hard light the texture of the inside of the box is more pronounced.

 

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