Capture ‘the beauty of artificial light’ in a short sequence of shots (‘beauty’ is, of course, a subjective term). The correct white balance setting will be important; this can get tricky –but interesting – if there are mixed light sources of different colour temperatures in the same shot. You can shoot indoors or outside but the light should be ambient rather than camera flash. Add the sequence to your learning log. In your notes try to describe the difference in the quality of light from the daylight shots in Exercise 4.2.
I struggled with this exercise, trying first to backlight a flower or a leaf and demonstrate the transparency of the delicate petals and bringing out the colours in the leaf (a maple) that can’t be seen normally. I decided then to use the opportunity of a recent trip to Brighton to take some outdoor shots.
I tried various settings for this and plumped for the high ISO and shade for WB. Other results were less warm with highlights and darks being very blown out. Because of the high level of noise I sharpened the shot in LR and reduced the noise reduction. I hand held the camera and in retrospect would have benefited by taking a tripod with me.
The dynamic range of the shot is wide from the black sky to the white neon lights of the signs making the task of getting the correct exposure a challenge.
Compared to daylight shots, the artificial light from the street lights is warm and creates a pleasing reflection on the sea. However, the neon lighting is very harsh and hard. There are no obvious shadows and the detail in the dark areas is almost lost. There are two people on the beach on the left lower corner of the image, which is barely visible.
This shot uses the same settings with a shorter shutter speed. The result is less noise; this was a bit of a surprise that a small change of about a third produced an obvious difference. I tried the shot with a lower ISO but because I was hand holding the camera I needed a shutter speed of more than 30 seconds and this produced a lot of camera shake. There was nowhere obvious to stabilise the camera. I experimented with speeds and this shot produced the least noise.
The quality of the light in this shot is more appealing and although there is a wide dynamic range, the shaft of softer pools light in the foreground compared to the harder light of the pier contrast greatly compared to the hard light of the midday sun in the exercise 4.3 and the shadows it cast. The shot in the previous exercise where detail was lost because of shadow falling on the lemon does not compare to the loss of detail in these night shots
Keeping the ISO and WB the same I tackled the “Eye”. Not only was there a wide dynamic range but the wheel was moving requiring a faster shutter speed to reduce movement blur. This range of light presents a problem because the bright hard areas need a short exposure to retain detail whilst the dark areas benefit from long exposure to retain detail. These shots are a compromise and in this shot the neon lights of the cars were blown our and I have adjusted them slightly in LR.
In this shot I used a longer exposure after finding a railing to rest my camera on. One second was still about as long an exposure that I could manage without more motion blur. The quality of light in this shot is much more even, except for the street lights but the softer light trails of the cars rear lights balance the overall dynamic range and the slower exposure helps to balance the overall light.
There were some surprising outcomes for me in this exercise. When I couldn’t manage the exposure well at the beginning of the exercise I set the camera on auto and took note of the settings. I then proceeded to work with these settings and left the ISO on 3200. I wish now that I had experimented a bit more with the ISO and looked to see if I could have brought it down somewhat. Many of my test shots were very grainy and I have adjusted some in LR for this blog so that they appear more acceptable. When the nights draw in I will be taking my camera out again to further experiment with the camera settings and I WILL take a tripod.