Use a combination of quality, contrast, direction and colours to light an object in order to reveal its form. For this exercise we recommend that you choose a natural or organic object such as an egg, stone, vegetable or plant, or the human face or body, rather than a man-made object. You don’t need a studio light for this exercise; a desk lamp or even window light will be fine, although a camera flash that you can use remotely is a useful tool. The only proviso is that you can control the way the light falls on the subject. Take some time to set-up the shot. The background for your subject will be crucial. For a smallish object, you can tape a large sheet of paper or card to the wall as an ‘infinity curve’ which you can mask off from the main light source by pieces of card. You don’t need to use a curve is you can manage the ‘horizon line’ effectively – the line where the surface meets the background. Taking a high viewpoint will make the surface the background, in which case the surface you choose will be important to the shot. Exposure times will be much longer than you’re used to (unless you’re using flash) and metering and focusing will be challenging. The key to success is to keep it simple. The important thing is to aim for four or five unique shots – either change the viewpoint, the subject or the lighting for each shot. Add the sequences to your learning log. Draw a simple lighting diagram for each of your shots showing the position of the camera, the subject and the direction of the key light and fill. Don’t labour the diagrams, quick sketches with notes will be just as useful as perfect graphics. In your notes, try to describe any similarities between the qualities of controlled lighting of the daylight and ambient artificial light shots from Exercise 4.2 and 4.3.
For this exercise I used a pair of small constant studio lights. I also took one set of shots using daylight and a reflector. My set up sketch shows how I set the shots up using either one or two lights and alternating the use of the reflector.
Image 1 is simply lit with one side light and no reflector.The lights have cause a hard reflection on the pepper and controlling this was difficult whilst retaining the detail in the black background (a piece of black felt). The shadow of the pepper is visible on the left hand side. This is similar to the result in 4.2 when the sun was directly onto the side of the lemon
Image 2 was set up using two lights to each side of the rose. This produced a much softer light and the petals of the rose almost glow in the light.
In Image 3 I changed the position of the rose and moved the lights to the front of the subject. The result was a softer light than I had expected. However, there is a reflection on the black felt where the light bounced off a slight irregularity in the cloth.
In Image 4 I introduced a gold reflector to the right of the rose which blocked out one of the lights. The result is a much warmer image. I also tried a white reflector which made no difference to the light on the image.
In Image 5 I changed the lighting to the side on image 5 using two lights, one either side of the subject. The imperfections in the cloth are still visible and light on the rose has become harder than the front light rose with the gold reflector.
And in Image 6 I re-introduced the gold reflector on the right and again blocked out the light on that side. The result is a very warm image of slightly diffused light, I also used a shallower Depth of Field.
Finally, in Image 7 I opened the curtains and took three shots of the rose using the same settings. The first daylight only is underexposed, I then introduced a silver reflector and the rose head petal edges are brighter and exposure of the head is better. Then in the third image I used a gold reflector and the result is a warmer image. Although, all three remain underexposed the difference of introducing a reflector is noticeable.