Monday, June 7, 2010

3. Experimenting with light

For this exercise once again Heidi is my subject.  We decided to take the photo's late in the afternoon on a very hot sunny summers day.  This would provide a variety of natural lighting possibilities, together with a local subway station for overhead fluorescent lighting.  To supplement the natural light I took a large Lastolite reflector with various covers and an on camera canon 580 EX II speedlite.  Having completed Exercise 1 using studio lighting I decided not to utilize this once more in the current exercise.  I have used the same lens (135mm prime)  for each photo and as much as possible a similar framing.  The aperture in all shots is f/2 or f/2.8 and I have used ISO 400/800 throughout.  Other than that the major variable is the shutter speed.

Although I did not consider it at the time, the fact that Heidi wore a white blouse, meant that I was able to manage the white balance shift far more easily than might have been the case.  In all of the following images white balance is taken from the white material.  I have created more than the requested number of images as I also wanted to experiment with and then illustrate the effect of fill flash.

As we stepped out of our front door, we were immediately in shade, but with some reflection of light from a white building opposite.  This created a soft golden light with minimal shadows:

Moving on we found a wide open space in a park, with strong sunlight, creating a very unflattering harsh light with strong specular reflections from the face

we did try using the reflector as a fill-in, but the light was so strong that Heidi could not open her eyes.  This was the best we could do, using a gold reflector  to warm the image - but not good!

Moving on I took the two following images on the steps heading down to the subway station.  In both cases the primary light on Heidi's face is the overhead strip light, however in the first case looking down the background is lit very differently from the second image where the background is daylight.

Further down in the station proper I took the following image entirely under overhead strip lighting.  This provided very even non-directional light, reflecting off a white floor so providing shadow fill.

In the following sequence the light is also provided by overhead lighting, but from one side only creating strong shadows on the right of the image.  In the second image I have added some fill flash with a -1eV setting on the flash

In my final images I have used an indoor situation with strong back lighting, requiring fill flash to obtain an acceptable exposure.  In the first of the two images I have aimed the light directly at Heidi creating strong reflections and a poor image.  In the second image I have bounced the same on camera flash off the ceiling to soften the image

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