Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Exercise 4.14 - Shiny surfaces

For this exercise I had to experiment with a shiny subject. I have chosen a silver color mirror as a subject, black box for the background, tripod, macro lens Tamron 90mm and a tracing paper fixed in the form of cone on the lens. I also used LED torch for lighting.

The first shot I took with a light next to the camera, without any additional tools.

90mm; f/3.2; 1/5 sec; ISO 200

The result was amazingly bad. Image was definitely overexposed and the black background does not seem to be black at all.

Then I fixed a tracing paper on the lens, so that the wide part was sitting around the object and was not seen in viewfinder and took some pictures with light at different angles, adjusting the exposure. 

The first two have been taken with the same exposure as the first one. The light was placed on the right side. The black is still not black, and there is nothing interesting in this shot at all.

90mm; f/3.2; 1/5 sec; ISO 200

90mm; f/3.2; 1/5 sec; ISO 200

The next four shots have been taken with slight variations of lighting angle and experimenting with exposure.
f/5.6; 1/15 sec

f/3.5; 1/5 sec

f/3.5; 1/5 sec

f/3.5; 1/5 sec

As it is seen, slightly changing angles of light, it is possible to influence the reflection of the subject and the background. On some of shots it is darker than on other shots. 

Also, what I found quite complicated in this exercise was focusing on the subject.

Using the tracing paper on the lens is a good techniques, when it is needed to highlight some reflection or suppress some of the tones, reflections or avoid unnecessary shadows. The angle of the light is also important, as on any other picture. 

Out of all shots I liked the one taken at f/5.6 the most. I think, it gives the best depth of field and the best combination of reflection and background. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Exercise 4.13 - Concentrating light

The task implied experimenting with different spot lighting tools to show different ways of lighting small subject or some part of the subject.
Though for this exercise the wider angle lens would probably work better, I decided instead to use 90mm Tamron lens and experiment with different flash options.

For the first picture I used LED torch for spot lighting from the back and white balance set to sunny day. As there was no flash attached and longer shutter speed applied, I also had to use tripod.  

90mm; f/2.8; 2 sec, 

The second shot has been taken with built-in flash and camera set on automatic Macro setting. The use of the flash saved some shutter speed, but the shot itself looks flat.  

90mm; f/5.6; 1/125 sec; 

Then I put the flash Nikon SB-700 on the camera. The results are significantly different from the built-in flash. The tones of colours differ, the shot itself is not flat, and the white balance seems to be different. Also, the aperture has automatically adjusted from f/5.6 to f/8.0.
90mm; f/8.0; 1/125

As I was not happy with white balance I saw on the previous picture, I have put the incandescent light filter on the flash and changed white balance setting as well. This has not changed the exposure values, but the colours of the subject and background look different.

90mm; f/8.0; 1/125 sec

For the final part of the experiment I have fixed a tube around the flash (with filter on) in order to concentrate the light of the flash more on the subject itself and put background in shadow. And it is seen that the bottom part of the shot fell into the shadow.

90mm; f/8.0; 1/125 sec

The task is showing that there are different ways of concentrating the light, and using flash is one of the options.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Exercise 4.12 - Contrast and shadow fill

The task was to take some pictures with different means for reflecting the light. For the task I used the following tools:

  • diffuser (the same that was used for previous exercises);
  • white card (made from the the piece of cardboard and two layers of white printing paper);
  • reflector (shiny and dull sides of the aluminum foil);
  • LED torch 
The first shot has been taken without diffuser, with a white card on a distance of 1m from the subject:

Light without diffuser; white card - 1m distance

The light is obviously too strong here, the subject is a bit overexposed, and shadows too harsh. 

The second shot has been taken with diffuser, white card on the same distance:

Light with diffuser, white card - 1m distance

In this case the shadows and lighting are more natural. Though more of the watches rim could be seen, the contrast with background is not obvious here. 

For the third shot the white card has been moved 0,5m closer to the subject.

Light with diffuser - white card - 0,5m distance

Compared to the previous shot more details of the rim are seen. Closer position of the white card enables to reflect more light back to the subject.

For the fourth part I covered the white card with a shiny side of the foil:

Foil (shiny side) - 0,5m distance

The difference compared to the white card is not that obvious. However, the contrast between shadows and background is better, when using foil.

For the next shot I turned the foil to the dull side facing the subject.

Foil (dull side) - 0,5m distance

Compared to the shiny side, the dull side of the foil makes the background of the subject a bit darker.

The next two shots were made using teared off piece of foil:

Foil (teared off, shiny side) - 0,5m distance

Foil (teared off; dull side) - 0,5m distance

Teared off foil is definitely reflecting less light and creates different contrast of shadows. And in the same manner, the dull side gives less contrast than shiny side of the foil.

With different tools different options for shadow fill and contrasting are possible. The closer is white card to the subject, the more light it returns, and the more contrast can be reached.  Different variations of foil will give different effects on the shadow and contrast. 
Probably, using macro lens and quite a small subject was not the best choice here. The effect should be seen better on bigger subjects, such as human faces, bigger still-life compositions.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Exercise 4.10 - Lighting angle

The task was to take 11 pictures of the same subject, lit through the diffuser from different angles.
This exercise I did using the same diffuser as for the previous one. All pictures were taken with the same settings of the camera: 90mm, f/3.2, 1/3sec, ISO 200. The interesting thing is that I used LED lamp and the best white balance setting for this kind of lighting was Direct Sunlight.

For the first part I took some pictures of the subject lit from the different sides (lamp on the same level with the subject).
Light in the front 

Light from the side

Light from the back side

Light from the back

For the second part I put the lamp in a position of 45 degrees in relation to the subject and took the same number of pictures from different sides.

Light in the front (45 degrees angle)

Light from the side (45 degrees)

Light from the back side (45 degrees)

Light from the back (45 degrees)

For the third part I had to take three pictures taken with lighting on the top of the subject.

Light overhead

Light slightly in front

Light slightly behind

There is a number of observations that I have made by doing this exercise:
1. Lighting from the back of the camera gives the smallest number of shadows. In some occasions the subject might be too flat.
2. Lighting from the side might give interesting shadows, depending on the object. It is always worth trying different angles of lighting. Out of all these pictures the one I like the most is the one taken from the back side under 45 degrees angle. It puts the subject in the shadow, just leaving eyes and some contour seen on the shot, and it also create a nice shadow and ray of light in the background. 
3. All three parts show, that shooting straight from the back is a bad idea, the edges are not highlighted, the subject is not seen, and the background is overexposed. It is the same like shooting against the bright sun.   

The overall conclusion is that depending on the subject and the impression you want to create by the particular shot, the lighting angle will be different.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Exercise 4.9 - Softening the light

For this exercise I had to take two pictures of a still life arrangement - one with naked tungsten lamp and the other with diffuser.
As I don't have a professional diffuser, I tried to make one myself. For this I used a big picture frame and white backing paper. Two layers of the paper created a needed level of transparency.

Because I could only make a small diffuser,  my composition should also be from very small objects. I used a small sea shell and a couple of small stones from the sea. The sea salt I used as a background for the objects. I took these shots with my macro lens Tamron 90mm.

90mm; f/4; 1/10 sec

90mm; f/4; 1/25

As I can notice, the colours without diffuser were a bit more yellow. Diffuser has taken this unnatural yellow tone away and shadows became more obvious. Also, the shutter speed was also changed from 1/10 sec to 1/25 to keep the same brightness on the shots.