Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Exercise 37 The lighting angle

The plan here was to use the light diffusion system investigated in the previous exercise and employ this to develop knowledge of the impact of lighting angle on the subject.  Basically, with the camera in a fixed position in front of the subject, it was to be lit from the front, side, back and side, and finally from the back with the light on the same plane as the subject. The sequence was then repeated with the light above the subject and looking down at an angle of about 45 degrees.  This was followed by three final shots with the diffused light above the subject and placed to be shining directly above it, just behind or just in front.  The subject needed to be something with rounded features and a variety of structural planes which would be able to show differences between light and shadow.  I selected an old cast of Beethoven which has been in the family for years as it fulfilled all these criteria.  This approach would be expected to show the shape, edge and form of the piece.  Moving the light source made the plain backdrop change in terms of its brightness and tone, but I did not attempt to alter this as that was not the objective of the exercise.  Had it been, I would have used a second light or fill flash to maintain an even appearance to the background regardless of the angle of the main light.

The first shot, taken from the front with the light as close to the camera as possible, although obviously not on quite the same axis, lit the subject evenly, created a little shadow in the detail, but overall gave quite a flat and shadowless result rather like a catalogue image.  I added an extra photograph with Beethoven lit from the front at 45 degrees to the camera axis and this threw the far side into shadow and allowed some real contrast and modelling to appear as a result. 
The image with lighting from the side, at 90 degrees to the camera axis, threw the far side into shadow and very little detail could be discerned (without doing anything in Lightroom) and created a sharp divide between light and shadow.  The image lit from ‘back and side’ caused the whole of the front of the statue to be in shadow although started to show outline in the absence of any frontal details.  The photograph shot with the light directly behind appeared almost as a complete silhouette and showed the edges and overall outline very well.  It was a shame that a small part of the structure of the reflector were apparent in the image – need to make sure that does not occur again!
Front 45 degrees

Front side
Back and side

The second sequence of shots, taken from directly in front of the statue but this time with the light above and pointing down at 45 degrees showed better modelling detail than the version where the light was pointed directly in front but on the same axis as the camera, and introduced more relief into the shadow side.  The version lit directly from the side was quite similar to the low level equivalent with the shadow side very dark and lacking in features.  The photograph taken with the light behind the subject allowed a little light to escape over the shoulder as I obviously failed to get the light stand absolutely in line with the subject.  However, the dark front and almost silhouette like character of the result was fairly clear.  The backlit version was mostly in silhouette but there were some highlight details appearing in the hair as the light source was above the subject.
High light - front
High light - front and side
High light - side
High light - back and side
High light - back

The next sequence lit the statue from directly above and then just in front and just behind.  From directly above the lighting threw shadows downwards from the hair and eyebrows and under the nose as well as in the relief detail of the clothing.  The front of the bust was well lit as this protruded out further than the face and was therefore exposed to the light direction.  Lighting from behind made for quite a dark image although it did light up the hair and produce what was almost a rim lighting effect.   Lighting from just in front produced my favourite image of the sequence and combined some of the best features of the other photographs.  There was modelling in the face and clothing detail as well as a really clear definition of the outline and the statue appeared to develop some real volume.  I think part of the success of this image is due to the positioning of the light not throwing any light onto the backdrop as this created a greater contrast between the background and subject.
Top light - directly overhead
Top light - front
Top light - back

I gained a lot from this exercise as it was the first time I have ever set out to take pictures of the same subject from so many angles and also explore angles which I would not normally have selected, such as the straight in front shots.  It brought it home how much subtlety there can potentially be in getting a light which is positioned directly above the image in exactly the right position and how valuable reflectors potentially are (in a following exercise) in directing light into the shadows to open them up.

I have got really interested in the use of contrasts while I have been doing this section and have been reading around the utility of contrast in photography while I have been going along, so I plan a future post around this subject.

No comments:

Post a Comment