Category Archives: 21 Photographic lighting

Exercise 38 Concentrating Light

This is an exercise in concentrating light. I tried two techniques.

Honeycomb Grid

Fig. 01 Peppers - honeycomb grid directly overhead through hole in colour box - 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

Fig. 01 Peppers – honeycomb grid directly overhead through hole in colour box – 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100 – flash 1/2 power

This shot used the same “colour box” as described in exercise 37. I placed a flashgun on a thin plastic grid diffuser over a hole and directly above the subject.

Fig. 02 Yellow Pepper - honeycomb grid directly overhead through hole in colour box - 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

Fig. 02 Yellow Pepper – honeycomb grid directly overhead through hole in colour box – 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100 – flash 1/2 power

In fig. 02 the only difference is the addition of a reflective black acrylic sheet beneath the subject which bounces a small amount of light into the shadows.

Fig. 03 Broken Egg - diffused flashgun directly overhead through hole in colour box at 1/64 power and honeycomb grid by camera at 1/4 power - 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

Fig. 03 Broken Egg – diffused flashgun directly overhead through hole in colour box at 1/64 power and honeycomb grid by camera at 1/4 power – 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

For the final example using a honeycomb grid I have moved the flash gun with the grid to a position by the camera and placed a diffused flash gun at lower power directly overhead.

Snoot

Fig. 04 Tomatoes - diffused flashgun directly overhead through hole in colour box at 1/16 power and flash gun with snoot to left of  camera at 1/2 power - 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

Fig. 04 Tomatoes – diffused flashgun directly overhead through hole in colour box at 1/16 power and flash gun with snoot by camera at 1/2 power – 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

In fig. 04 I have used a snoot on the flash gun by the camera. There is just enough light from above to show the tomato at the back but the snoot is concentrating the light on the front faces of the subjects.

Fig. 05 Tomato - flashgun with snoot by camera at 1/2 power - 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

Fig. 05 Tomato – flashgun with snoot by camera at 1/2 power – 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

In the final example there is only the one light, a flash gun with snoot to the left of the camera.

Conclusion

A useful exercise that made me think about how to use a snoot and a honeycomb grid. For these type of subjects they offer interesting effects. I particularly like the grid from above as this emphasises the colour of the fruit and brings out interesting shapes and forms by casting such strong shadows.

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.

 

Exercise 36 The Lighting Angle

Fig. 01 African Head - 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100 speed light in softbox above subject

Fig. 01 African Head – 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100 speed light in softbox above camera

Exercise 36 is a useful exercise and has created a useful reference chart for the effects of a single diffused light.

Fig. 02 Lighting Comparison chart

Fig. 02 Lighting Comparison chart

Beyond the obvious effects of moving the light fore and aft and up and down the most interesting differences have occurred with the colour of the subject. It shows that the most saturated colour occurs with the light just left of the camera and at the same level as the subject, at 45 degrees to the subject and 45 degrees above and when the light is above the camera so more than 45 degrees above the horizontal.

Fig. 3 Light above subject

Fig. 3 Light above subject

Above the subject reduces the texture and gives a flat light.

Fig. 04 Light 45 degrees left and 45 degrees above

Fig. 04 Light 45 degrees left and 45 degrees above

45 degrees above the subject strengthens the colours.

Fig. 05 Light 90 degrees left at same height as subject

Fig. 05 Light 90 degrees left at same height as subject

45 and 90 degrees gives the most depth but by comparing fig. 4 and fig. 5 it can be seen that there is much greater colour strength when the light is higher as it is in fig. 4.

Fig. 06 Light at 135 degrees left and 45 degree above

Fig. 06 Light at 135 degrees left and 45 degree above

Theoretically there should be more form and shape at 135 degrees and this might be try if the subject was also being lit by a fill light from 135 degrees right but the deep shadow reduces the sense of depth.

Exercise 35 Softening The Light

In exercise 35 we need to take a still life with and without softening the light and to compare the results.

Fig. 1 Hard Still Life - 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

Fig. 1 Hard Still Life – 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

In fig. 1 there was a single speed light on 1/4 power at 45 degrees on the left. The edges are hard, contrast is naturally strong and there are deep shadows.

Fig. 2 Hard Still Life - 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100.

Fig. 2 Hard Still Life – 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100.

For fig. 2 I added two more lights. The main light is still at 45 degrees on 1/1 power, a fill light, in the form of a second speed light, is at 45 degrees right on 1/4 power and a third speed light on 1/2 power just back of 90 degrees. All the lights are above the set and pointing down at a slight angle. (see fig.3). the shadows have been significantly reduced by filling in the shadows with the 2nd and 3rd lights but the hard light still gives hard edges and high contrast.

Fig. 3 Set-up used for fig.2

Fig. 3 Set-up used for fig.2

Fig. 4 Soft Still Life - 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

Fig. 4 Soft Still Life – 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

Fig 4 had two lights, both speed lights. One at 45 degrees left with a large soft box and at full power and a second light just forward of 90 degrees on 1/8 power with a small soft box.

The shadows are softer and the old bakelite telephone has more variation of tone. The reduction in contrast appears to give greater texture and tonal variation between the pure white acrylic sheet and the paper in the note book.

Fig. 5 Red Still Life - 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

Fig. 5 Red Still Life – 1/60 at f/16, ISO 100

In the final image the light set-up is similar to that used in fig. 2 but with the addition of a honeycomb and a red gel on the back right light.

Overall shadows are darker with un-diffused (hard) light and  edges are softer with diffused light. Colours tend to be slightly warmer and pictures have a more natural, north light, feel when a diffuser is attached.