Category Archives: Part 4

Exercise 4.4

Exercise 4.4

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.

IMG_1588 copy


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 1

Pepper 4.4

Image 2

Rose 1 4.4

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.

Image 3

1 front lit
1 front lit

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.

Image 4

2 front lit gold
2 front lit gold

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.

Image 5

side lit
side lit

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.

Image 6

front lit gold 1 light
side lit gold 1 light

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.

Image 7


Image 7a

daylight silver
daylight silver

Image 7b

daylight gold
daylight gold




Exercise 4.3

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.

PierLumix GX7, f4.7, 1/15sec, ISO 3200, WB shade.

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.

Brighton, on the beachLumix GX7, f4.7, 1/22sec, ISO 3200, WB shade.


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

Big WheelLumix GX7, f4.7, 1/13 sec, ISO 3200, WB shade.

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.

light trailsLumix GX7, f5.4 1sec, ISO 200, WB cloudy

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.



Exercise 4.5


Make a Google Images search for ‘landscape’, ‘portrait’, or any ordinary subject such as ‘apple’ or ‘sunset’. Add a screengrab of a representative page to your learning log and note down the similarities you find between the images. Now take a number of your own photographs of the same subject, paying special attention to the ‘Creativity’ criteria at the end of Part One. You might like to make the subject appear ‘incidental’, for instance by using juxtaposition, focus or framing. Or you might begin with the observation of Ernst Haas, or the ‘camera vision’ of Bill Brandt. Add a final image to your learning log, together with a selection of preparatory shots. In your notes describe how your photograph differs from your Google Images source images of the same subject.


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I have recently moved to Alnwick, famous for its castle . the home of the Duke of Northumberland and the shooting location of the Harry Potter films and the serial Downton Abbey.  It is also well known for the gardens that the current Duchess created. which include a Poison Garden housing many garden plants that are highly toxic, a real visitor attraction.  The gardens are magnificent in themselves with a creative design incorporating many fountains and water features, mazes, leafy tunnels and quirky activities.  The castle holds daily broomstick flying lessons and regularly has incidental features such as the Super Heroes I came across the day I was there.  There are many images on Google featuring the gardens and it is a photographers’ paradise presenting the opportunity to take traditional shots of the flower beds and landscape but also to encourage a more creative approach too.

Walk way
Walk way

Alnwick Garden, Beech Steps

Alnwick Garden, Beech Tunnel
Alnwick Garden, Beech Tunnel

The three shots above are of a traditional view of the garden, with the leafy walkways offering the opportunity to lead the viewer into the shot. and is reminiscent of the style of many photographers. including leading landscape photographer Charlie Waite.

WAITE-BELGIUM-DAMM_2949679k (accessed 10.07.2016)


Alnwick Garden, Fountain 2
Alnwick Garden, Fountain 2
Alnwick Garden, fountain
Alnwick Garden, fountain

The shots of two of the  fountains in the garden were inspired by Ernst Haas.  It is not intended to copy or replicate the kind of images Haas produced. more to use them as inspiration for a creative interpretation of water.   In the first it is the reflections in the water and of the photographer in the steel construction.  In the second I tried to capture the movement of the falling water by shooting only part of the fountain to create a more abstract view.



Ernst Haas, Japan 1984

http://www.ernst-hass.c0m/abstract-1.html (accessed 11.07.2016)

Alnwick Garden, Peony
Alnwick Garden, Peony

There has to be at least one flower shot from a garden.  This shot is not as creative as those of Haas and had I been taking this as a shot in its own right I would have focused more on the inner petals of the flower but I wanted it to have some context.






The Language of Light – Research

I have decided to take a different approach to my research, following feedback from by Tutor on assignment 3 suggesting that I use more comparisons.  Previously, I researched each photographer and wrote about their work making observations and comments along the way.  For this Project I intend to write it as an essay making comparisons between photographers and quoting from books I have read  where relevant.

There is little doubt that the suggested research for Part 4 is meant to get the reader thinking about the styles and approaches made by the photographers.

I started with Sally Mann whose photography I found both deeply disturbing and serenely beautiful.

In the SuburbX interview Jiang Rong (interviewer), asks if there is a link between  photography and poetry, which Mann studied at university. Her reply is interesting when she says that some photographs are linked, as they condense information while others are like “Ezra Pound”.  In fact there are several parallels between photography and poetry in the interview, with references to Emily Dickinson and Yeats as well as Pound.

I am assuming that by her reply Mann means Pound’s development and use of Imagism, which is described as the use of clear, precise, and sharp language producing an economy of language in his poems.  Is that what Mann is trying to achieve in her photography?  There seems to be evidence of this type of Imagism in the Body Farm collection.  Where there is no need to explain the image further than what is presented.

Rut Blees Luxemburg also makes comparisons between poetry and photography for her inspiration  for ‘Liebeslied’ (My Suicides) – in English: love song or love poem., inspired by German poetry.

 “the river, to me, became a ‘wandering depth’ or an ‘in deeper”.

The romantic language Blees used to name these works was sarcastically challenged by the philosopher Alexander García Düttmann, who she had asked to write about the London photographs and in her words gave the works a dose of irony.


A photo of various civic buildings and skyscrapers above a city under a blue sky

© Rut Blees Luxemburg  (accessed 03/07/2016)

Having made this link with poetry however, the styles of both photographers is very different.  Whilst Mann is”peeling back the layers to reveal the truth”, Blees Luxemburg is exploring place and identity looking at how shared space in cities affect and reflects human conditions.  Both photographers pay particular attention to light.  Mann uses a Collodion wet plate process which is light sensitive to produce the milky light in many of her shots.  Blees Luxemburg uses a “secret” process to produce the warm golden light in many of her city and street shots.

Exercise 4.2

Brief: In manual mode take a sequence of shots of a subject of your choosing at different times on a single day. It doesn’t matter if the day is overcast or clear but you need a good spread of times from early morning to dusk. You might decide to fix your viewpoint or you might prefer to ‘work into’ your subject, but the important thing is to observe the light, not just photograph it. Add the sequence to your learning log together with a timestamp from the time/date info in the metadata. In your own words, briefly describe the quality of light in each image.

I decided because of my imminent move to the North East that I would use a prop for this exercise that I could easily replicate if I needed to.  Additionally, as per the brief in the course notes I am thinking ahead to the assignment and my thoughts of possibly deconstructing a Dutch Masters still life painting to understand how they used the light on elements of their paintings.  Having researched this I settled on a lemon.

All shots were taken in a conservatory during 17th April; a day which started bright and sunny but became cloudter later.  The conservatory is north-east facing so the sun rose to the left of the lemon.

I used a Lumix GX7 with a 14-140mm Panasonic lens.  I set the ISO to 200 and WB to sunny/daylight.   I used a mixture of hand held and tripod mounted shots.

One interesting phenomena was the White Balance (WB).  When uploaded into Lightroom not all images were uniform.  There was a blue cast on some and therefore, I adjusted the  WB in the editing process together with some sharpening and a slight adjustment to exposure on some of the other images.


In this shot the light is quite soft producing long shadows but bright highlighting  the lemon at the bottom left hand side.  The shadow of the window frame is just visible in the right hand corner.  The contrast is high, demonstrated by the way in which the  light is falling on the lemon and no/little light entering the shadow and the relatively hard edges of the shadow.



An hour later and the sun has moved round to throw the lemon into complete shade, this produces a lower contrast image of the lemon.  There are still a couple of bright spots on the lemon coming from the reflection of the window glass.  The shadow of the window frame has changed the way in which the light falls on the lemon.  The light does not strike the lemon however he light falling on the table is also of  slightly lower contrast as seen in the softer edges of the shadows except for the square of light in the upper left to middle area where it remains bright on the table.  This is because the size of the light source (the sun) has grown larger as it rises in the sky.


Ninety minutes later and the sun has now moved back to the left of the lemon with more of the light focused onto the side. The contrast is high again, producing hard edged shadows behind the lemon where no light is hitting the table.  The whole image appears bright with the hard light of the morning sun.


Another hour and the shadows to the top of the table have now disappeared with the effect of the whole image being brighter.  The light is now hard across the whole of the shot and the reflected light from the window is no longer visible as seen at 7.46 am.


As the sun is moving to it’s highest point at midday  once again the lemon is in the shadow of the frame of the conservatory which has the effect of a much lower contrast of the shot as seen at 7.46 am producing softer light and soft edges to the shadow.  However, there is one spot of light falling on the middle left of the lemon.  This was one of the images where the WB was not quite right and was producing a slight bluey cast to the shot.  My edit included changing it to a cloudy WB which produced a more pleasing effect.  Interestingly the Auto in LR produced a very blue effect.

12.00.56 a.
12.00.56 b.

Image is the unedited shot of image b.  There is evidence of the blue cast appearing at the top of the image on the table.  I applied the same edit as the 11.11.12 shot.  In shot unedited the highlights falling on the lemon from the high, bright midday sun is blown out.  When I edited image the highlights came back into range.

The high, bright sun is creating a hard light with very hard edged shadows behind the lemon and the light falling very near to the top of the lemon as would be expected on a bright sunny day.


Just over three quarters of an hour later and the shadows have almost gone.  There is just the slightest shadow underneath the lemon.  At this point it was beginning to get cloudy and the light is now softer and more diffuse. The dynamic range on a sunny day produces bright highlights and very black shadows which produce images that lack detail and have hotspots (as seen in the unedited 12 midday shot) whereas, on a cloudy day the clouds take the light and diffuse it so that there is no bright light source falling on the subject or scene creating a more forgiving light that compliments the subject with pleasant tones.

17.42.51 (unedited) a.


17.42.51 b.

The afternoon was cloudy and now (just before sunset) the light remains diffuse and the slightest shadow remains below the lemon.  By now the colour cast is much more pronounced as seen in the unedited version. Although, in this shot there are no blown out highlights.


The sun has now set and the diffuse light continues.  This is the edited version with the WB changed from Daylight to Shade.  Some light is falling on the right hand side of the lemon, probably a reflection from the glass window.  Although, there were no lights on in the conservatory there were lights on in the house adjacent to the conservatory.  Very little shadow is apparent.

Reflection and Learning

Although the day was bright for most of the time the White Balance of the camera needed to be changed to reflect how the light was falling on the lemon.  When the lemon itself was in shade the WB would have been better set on shade and not daylight.

When I first reviewed these shots I thought many of them were very similar but on doing an in depth critique the light actually changed in more ways than I’d anticipated.

The dynamic range of the camera is greatest in the brightest light when the camera captures both strong highlights and dark areas.  I didn’t pay enough attention to this and didn’t review the histograms as critically as I might, assuming that the camera would actually meter on the lemon and the WB would be right when the exposure was correct.  All of the shots I took were properly exposed according to the histogram.  In future I will not rely on the histogram alone to assess the shots.














Exercise 4.1

“Set your camera to any of the auto or semi-auto modes. Photograph a dark tone (such as a black jacket), a mid-tone (the inside of a cereal packet traditionally makes a useful ‘grey card’) and a light tone (such as a sheet of white paper), making sure that the tone fills the viewfinder frame (it’s not necessary to focus). Add the shots to your learning log with quick sketches of the histograms and your observations.”

For this exercise I used A4 black and white cards and the inside of a cereal box.  Unfortunately, the cereal box had a number of creases in it which can be seen in the images.  However, I decided that this did not detract from the aim of the exercise and I would still be able to demonstrate  the exposures for each shot.

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Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.40.52IMG_1587

The three above images were taken using a Canon 5D Mk 3 on semi-automatic using Aperture priority.  I originally set my camera to fully automatic mode and the camera could not focus which confused me at first.  I posted a query onto the OCA blog as to why this should be and then on reflection realised that it was because there were not enough tones in the shots to help the camera focus.  I received a number of helpful replies which confirmed this so I first of all took the auto focus off and then set the camera to Aperture priority.

As predicted and described in the course text the camera exposed for all three cards in the mid tone.  This is described in the histograms and the similarity of tone in each of the images.

“Set your camera to manual mode. Now you can see your light meter! The midtone exposure is indicated by the ‘0’ on the meter scale with darker or lighter exposures as – or + on either side. Repeat the exercise in manual mode, this time adjusting either your aperture or shutter to place the dark, mid and light tones at their correct positions on the histogram. The light and dark tones shouldn’t fall off either the left or right side of the graph. Add the shots to your learning log with sketches of their histograms and your observations.”

Grey cereal box card

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Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.57.37Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 11.57.47


The creases on the cereal box are clear in these images.  However, the histogram shows that the shutter speed of 1.3 seconds is probably the better exposure of the two shots.


White Card

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These two images are both taken with the same aperture and ISO  but with a longer exposure of 6secs in the first image compared to 1.6 secs in the second.  Although the histogram is well to the right in the longer exposure there is no loss of detail and the highlights are not blown out producing a closer replica to the white card than the second image.  The shorter exposure although not on 0 of the light meter is clearly beginning to move towards the mid-tone.

Black Card

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With the black card I opened up the aperture to it’s widest setting and increased the ISO to 400.  Although not quite so clear on this resolution, in light room the 1/8 sec exposure looks more grey than the longer exposure. As seen in the images of the white card the histogram is close to the edge but there appears to be no loss of detail and the darks are not blown out.