Thursday, 24 February 2011

Assignment 4 - Using Lighting Techniques

I'm so tired of taking photos of that bunny!
Although it has been great seeing all of the different ways in which four different qualities of the same object can be shown in very different images using a variety of lighting. I like lighting, both artificial and natural, and whilst some elements of this part have been difficult due to weather, I have really enjoyed the assignment.

For each of the qualities, I decided to focus on them in isolation. There are some images where more than one of the qualities can be seen in detail, but I just wanted to focus on the particular quality under scrutiny.

I chose the brass bunny because it has such a prominent shape but also discreet differences in texture and a nice colour. For all of these photos I used auto white balance, which never lets me down. On some of them I had tweaked it slightly using the manual white balance temperature slider in Lightroom.


I knew I wanted to do this shot as soon as I started thinking about the assignment. I saw this done with a wine glass in a photography magazine. It's a simple technique using a soft-box covered in black material in the middle with two thin strips of light coming through on either side. This leads to the object in questions being lit just from the edges showing it's shape perfectly.
I needed a decent aperture to capture enough of the barely lit object and a shutter speed that allowed me to shoot hand-held.
I am really pleased with this shot, it fits the brief perfectly and shows the great shape of the object.

For the second shape shot, I wanted to use shadow and whilst there was another that I liked (see previous post) I wanted to capture two shapes at once. The shadow shows a different profile to the actual bunny which exemplifies the shape of the object.
The room was quite dark in order for the shadow to be strong. I used the small, hard flash without any diffusion to create as strong a shadow as possible. The flash was off camera.


Natural light was my choice for the both form shots. I wanted to use a large light source in order to show as many angles of the object as possible. I shot this image at F2.5 in order to throw out any distractions, but I wanted to keep some other objects in the frame such as the wooden shutter and the carved bowl in order to add a sense of depth to the shot, which in turn shows the depth of the object. This image was taken at lunchtime when the sun was at its highest, but it was quite an overcast day so I was confident that the light would be diffused in order to allow the shadows to be soft and all the object's dimensions to be shown.

I decided to use natural light again for the second form image. I'm nervous about this image, not because I'm unhappy with it, but because I think that under scrutiny it could be considered that form is being shown not by the lighting, but by the fish eye lens that I used.
I stand by the image though, I really like this one, I converted it to mono and stressed for ages about whether or not to avoid the colour background. In the end I stuck with the colour because the grass and buildings behind the rabbit are darker and they show depth which gives context to the depth of the bunny. The light was fading when I took this so I had to use my widest aperture and a slower shutter speed than I would have liked (it could be sharper). There was a lot of cloud and the sun was far away so there is little shadow in the image and the curves and bumps of the rabbit can be clearly seen in a way that isn't as noticeable in any of the other photos.


I took this shot following some of the colour photographs and adapted the lighting accordingly. I wanted the first texture shot to show the chinks in the brass (made by whacking it with a spoon - all in the name of art!). I used one of my studio lights to the front-right of the object and a large softbox behind to light the scene, but dialled down. The front light had no diffusion at all so that the texture was shown with hard shadow. I could have used a wider aperture to increase the detail, and thus show more texture, but I wanted to keep the backdrop blurred so it showed a good contrast.

I used a portable flash for this shot which was aimed at the bunny's front. Having already captured a shot of the chinks and scratches, I decided to use lighting to make the texture seem smoother than it really is. I used F8 as the sun hadn't set completely and I wanted the background to be darker, but I still wanted some detail, some texture, to make the bunny seem smooth and metallic. The flash was on quite a low power but it was very close to the bunny which allowed all of the detail to be filled with light. The distance of the camera from the rabbit also helps create the impression that it is completely smooth.
This is the other image that I'm nervous about as I worry that I shouldn't be using light to smooth out texture, but enhance. My aim though, was to use a lighting technique to serve a purpose, and I think I have done that.


The first colour shot was taken with my portable reflector which has a number of different colours and textured surfaces. I decided to use the gold surface to try and increase the bronze colour of the bunny. After some experimentation, I sat the bunny on the reflector as it was flat on the floor, and I used two studio lights, both diffused (soft-box and brolly) to decrease the shadow and show the colour.
I used F4.5 because there was a lot of light flare coming off the reflector and I wanted to minimize it, and I shot at 1/100 as it was hand-held, and I didn't want to lose the light in the background.
I like this image a lot, rather than showing colour by contrast, it shows it through similar shades and the whole image has a warm glow.
This is the last image and the one that took the most preparation. I wanted to so direct influence from another photographer, and I wanted to show the rich brass colour of the rabbit through a stark contrast. I made the mould of the bunny and created an ice bunny to sit besides it in a nod to Robert Mapplethorpe.
I used a tripod for this image and wanted to get as much detail as I could. I used a large soft-box to light the two bunnys and a hard smaller light against the reflector background.

Overall I am pleased with the results of this assignment. I am sick of taking pictures of the bunny but I feel like I have stretched myself. I didn't use as many of the other inspirational photographs as I originally planned to, but I don't think that this is detrimental to the photographs as they fit the brief better.

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