Saturday, 6 October 2012

Exercise 33 Cloudy weather and rain

The first objective here was to photograph the same view in sun and overcast conditions.  This first shot is of a building and was taken on two different days to get the sunny and overcast conditions, although I would acknowledge that taking the images on a day when clouds were passing across the sun would have served me better, this weather condition showed no sign of occurring at the time!  No post-production alterations have been made to either of the images, and the camera white balance was set to daylight.  The photograph taken on an overcast day has a far flatter tone to it and the contrast, vibrance and warmth apparent  in the colours, especially the brickwork, are absent in comparison to the image taken in sunlight.  The image taken on the overcast day also has a slight blue cast to it which I would have altered in processing if this was the only image I had available.  The images were taken with the camera in Av mode and at f/4, so the measure of exposure differences comes from the shutter speed which was 1/125sec in overcast conditions and 1/350sec in the sunlight.
The second image pair was of the grinning gnome again, shot (he should be ..) under sunny and overcast conditions on different days and with the camera set to daylight.  It was shot in Av mode again, so the shutter speed was the differentiator of the difference between the two conditions.  The overcast image was shot at 1/180sec and the sunny picture at 1/1500sec which is an indicator of the difference between the light levels prevailing at the time.  The sunlit version clearly has a warmer tone and more saturated colouration than the overcast version and the texture of the surface was modelled in finer detail.

Photographs under overcast conditions.  This second part of the exercise asked for three images taken on an overcast day and emphasising the enveloping, shadowless light and prominent detail with a pronounced relief.  An example with colour also needed to be found.  Overcast conditions give softer shadows and edge details are less distinct than when they are modelled by the contrasting light from the sun or other external light source.  This is sometimes a disadvantage when fine structure and details of surfaces are required, but conversely, in some situations, the absence of contrasty sunlight is a major advantage;  a shiny subject is one instance, as are examples in portraits where harsh features caused by shadow from nose and eyebrows can be detrimental to the shot.
The wheelbarrows were photographed under really overcast conditions of medium grey cloud and provided an excellent example of the influence of shadowless light, especially in the details of the rusty metal, the wheels and the stones on the ground – I actually think harsh shadows from a sunlit version of this shot would have generated too much sharp contrast which would have needed adjustment in post-processing to control the exposure throughout the image.  The details in the old brickwork in the second image again show some relief in the surface detail accentuated by the evenness and I think direct sunlight would have been difficult to handle, although some form of modifier of the sunlight would have taken it to a halfway house and probably would have been the ideal solution.  The final image was taken at a local fete under dismal overcast conditions which have so typified this summer.  In this case, the very even, flat  light created a dull image (this has not been digitally altered) and here the sunlight would have significantly improved the scene and added some much needed punch to the picture.

Overcast - wheelbarrows

Overcast - brick wall
Overcast - tents

Photographs in rain.  I wanted to cover a range of options here, starting from a direct shot of rain and then looking at the actual impact of rain in several different images. The first shot was a simple image taken during a shower and showed raindrops falling into a pond and the consequent ripples.  I went for a shutter speed of 180sec as I knew from previous experience that this would allow the raindrops to streak in the image and the splashes to have some movement.  The sun was out at the same time which gave some sparkle to the rain as well.
Shetland rainbow

This was one of the more interesting exercises I felt as it served to emphasise the importance of light in modelling surfaces and its key role in delivering saturated colours with real ‘life’.   Although this can be addressed in post-production, it is a time consuming occupation to introduce into an image that would have been better from the outset of the lighting conditions had been more appropriate to the subject.  The section on photographs taken under overcast conditions really brought home how important getting the right lighting for a given situation actually is.  I felt that each example of surface detail (the wheelbarrows and the brick wall) here would have been better if lighting had been half way between the overcast days on which I shot them and full sun, which I felt would have been too harsh.  Had I been taking these photographs for use in some way I would have used a sniff of off-camera fill flash on both of them to model the details … but that comes up later in this section.  Rain appears again in the final section covering Ilustration and Narrative, so I will be taking a more detailed look at the subject later.

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