13 Sep 2011

Assignment 4 - Light

Part 4 has been a long section with some testing, difficult and time consuming exercises but it has been most enjoyable despite that.  One of the problems has been that I have been limited to doing the Assignment at home, whereas I usually get opportunities to shoot most of my work whilst I am away,  Since I get relatively little time at home, with family life also taking priority, it has been hard to find the hours. 

Despite my whining, my Light Assignment is done and can be found here.

I wait to be judged and while my tutor looks at my work I will be wondering at my choice of subject.  I might have gone out on a limb by choosing a clear wine glass.  I hope that my tutor doesn't think that this has prevented me from fulfilling the objectives of the assignment but I found it a challenge that was hard to resist.  Glass is a notoriously difficult thing to photograph so I hoped that if I could do it well I might get some small reward for making the attempt... or not!  Only time will tell.

The technical aspects were intriguing and I got a lot of help from textbooks including 'Light, Science and Magic' by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver and Paul Fuqua.  I relied on a lot of back lighting be it from a soft box, snoot or the sky, as front lighting tended to come back at the camera revealing every tiny spot of dust and finger mark.  I used black and white reflectors to move light as well as black and translucent sheets of perspex.  My soft box was most useful and I used my hi-key background as a huge soft box for some shots.

Here are a few of my setups.


The glass against a black background was fairly easy.  The light source is the lastolite hi-key background which was good as it gave a large area of light to get around the background card that I was shooting against.  I had two small white cards either side of the glass and a large white card under the camera to put stripes of reflection on the glass which helped to give depth to the shot.  I was shooting tethered to my laptop so that I could examine the images in detail straight after they were taken and move things around as required.  The computer also helped as I could display the camera's live view which made accurate focus a lot easier.



Shooting the shadow image in a pool of light was also relatively simple.  I use a snoot to provide the illumination and filled the glass with weak squash to give colour to the water I used.  The hardest part was achieving the right angle for the shot so that unwanted reflections or distractions didn't spoil the image.



The close up of the base with the logo DARTINGTON was a hand held shot using a macro lens.  I wandered around looking for a suitable background and light angle to get the word lit and give some background interest.  Holding the glass at 90deg to the sky put the light through the edge of the base and then I held the glass near a flower to give the colour.  The base acted a little like a lens and it kept the edge of the petals within the rim giving a slightly surreal effect that I liked.  The hardest bit was manhandling the camera in one hand with the glass in the other... that camera isn't light!



 Shooting against the sky needed a bit of bamboo and cotton thread.  Once the glass was suspended I added the Gin and olive and then waited for a nice bit of sky to wander past.  Of course the thread had to be removed post production but that was about all that needed doing.



 Getting the overhead shot needed the long arm of my Uni-Loc tripod and a sheet of translucent perspex with the light below.  Once everything was in place I filled the glass and started shooting.  The uncorrected tungsten cast of the modelling lamp was just about the right shade to match the liquid.  Being a hand made glass, the imperfections showed up nicely as dark rings around the bowl.



Getting the 'splash' shot needed lots of practice at pouring water.  I set this up outside with a conventional soft box behind the glass and then threw water into it, firing the camera at an appropriate moment.  The flash duration was, of course, a lot faster than the shutter speed and being the main light source it froze the action despite having the camera at only 100th sec. As can be seen, my first efforts splashed onto the soft box so that needed cleaning and moving a bit further away!

All in all a fun time with the lens cap off and I do hope that my time and effort wasn't wasted.  I must plough on as I have the final Assignment to complete before the end of November and time waits for no man.




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