The Art of Photography:Mike Mudd's Learning Log

The Art of Photography:Mike Mudd's Learning Log

Light: The Lighting angle

Module ExercisesPosted by Mike Sun, February 24, 2013 19:52:59
An experiment to demonstrate the sculptural effects of a light source position in relation to the subject, with the camera in a fixed position. As a subject a sculpture with heavy relief was used to highlight the effect of the diffused illumination from different angles. Each photograph employs a single light source using an umbrella diffuser and each image is the result of flash rather than continuous lighting.

1.The light source next to the camera

This first image, shows that the power setting for the flash was low and that there is some distance between the subject and the background - there is notable fall off of light, which in this case helps extricate the subject from the background and thus reducing the flatter direct from camera light - it can be recognised that the light source was camera left. The detailed texture of the sculpture is well depicted in this image, reflecting the various nooks and crannies of the face which are not directly perpendicular to the camera and light. There us greater illumination of the cheeks - which were most parellel with the light source and camera POV.

2. Light source to camera left (at same level as camera).

Again in this image there is a degree of 'fall off' of the light as it hits the background, and again this has affected the seperation of the subject from the background - in this case arguably less positively. The depiction of the sculptures form/ shape is aided by the light falling onto the left side and the resultant shadowing of the right hand side of the face.

3. Light source right of camera (same height as camera).

This example is the same effect but from the opposite side as depicted in the previous image, however it is noted that the light source direction may have been a little towards the background or nearer as there is less light fall off on the light source side of the background.

4. Light source behind subject on right hand side

A high contrast more dramatic version is achieved here, with the left handside of the face in deep shadow and the bridge of the nose acting as the seperator to the more illuminated right hand side, however the dark side of the face is not in full shadow as a) the light source was bigger than the subject and therefore the emitted diffuse light could 'envelope' the subject, and b). the room in which these images was recorded has white walls and is quite small so a degree of light bounce lightened the shadows.

5. Light source behind subject on left hand side

6. Light directly behind subject

A silhouetted version, reduced in outline depiction only by the fact that the light source was larger than the subject and enveloped allowing for detail to be found in the darkened areas. For the proximity of the source to the subject the power of the light was too high also.

7. Lighting the subject from 45 degrees in front and above subject - light centre, left and right

Of these four images, the version where the light is directly above and at 45 degrees (1st one) to the subject provides a lighter' version in that the reduced shadows diminish the sense of weight and detail of the piece, while the remaining three images provide some shadowing around the brow and eyes (especially those images showing left and right from above at 45 degrees lighting) and the opposite eye/brow is in diminished light and the beginnings of shadow. The final version in this set with the lighting effect from directly overhead again is lighter than those from left or right- but there is still a sense of shadow from the overhanging brow which adds weight to the piece, where in all the shots prior to this set shown are all about texture.

8. Lighting directly overhead in front and behind.

Of this final pair, the first, where the light is directly above but in front of the subject offers a light and relatively less detailed depiction, though the detail is to a degree still there due to the heavy textured nature of this particular sculpture. The final image, is almost more about the background rather than the subject, the ilumination of the subject is relatively poor, though the mass is depicted by the subjects heavy shadow contrast versus the much lighter background.

Overall: an excellent exercise creating and understanding diffuse lighting which can provide,at different angles, very different results which can in turn heavily influence the viewers understanding of a subject in terms of weight, volume, texture and mass.

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