Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Softening the Light

As this part of the coursework is related to light in photography some of the exercises need to be completed indoors as still life shots and others are taken outdoors or require specific weather conditions. For that reason the exercises in this section up to Assignment 4 may appear in random order.

Softening The Light
Exercise - 2 photographs 

For this exercise a still life arrangement is used to demonstrate the effect and compare the differences between using a naked or diffused light source.

Both of these images were taken using a single desk lamp and with the camera fixed to a tripod. The light source was at a 90 degree angle to the right of the flower and slightly higher angled downwards.

Image 1 - Hard Light

Naked Light source - Hard Light
The image above was taken with the naked light source. There are obvious areas of dark shadow and very bright highlights with the shadow areas having hard defined edges which are particularly noticeable on the left side of the plants stem. The side lighting does show a degree of depth to the subject but I find it too hard in this instance.

Hard lighting produces high contrast in an image because the light rays hit the subject from approximately the same angle. Personally I think the lighting is too harsh here and distracts the viewer from the delicate nature of the subject. The highlights are overexposed which could have been adjusted in camera or by moving the light source further away from the subject.

Image 2 - Soft Light

Diffused Light - Soft Light
This second image was taken with the light source and camera in exactly the same position but with the flower inside a light tent. The shadow areas are clearly less dense and the edges softer. The contrast is reduced in this image due to the diffused light. Although there are still areas with some shadow and highlights they do not dominate the image or detract from the delicate details in the subject. In this instance I prefer the diffused light however this may not be suitable for every subject. Again the image would have been better with the light source further away from the subject to reduce the bright highlights further.

Some images, perhaps in monochrome for example, might have more impact as high contrast images with deep shadows. It is also possible that the shadow is the subject of the image and therefore hard lighting may be required.

Being able to pre-visualise the effect of lighting on a subject is an important tool in photography and as I continue to read through the text of "Light, Science and Magic" it seems that there is a recipe for most lighting situations and subjects which can be used and is related to learning the physics of light itself.

1 comment:

  1. A really clear, yet succinct illustration of what needs to be taken into account.