Category Archives: Part 4

Part 4 – Languages of Light

Exercise 4.5

‘Make a google images search of an ordinary subject. Add a screengrab of a representative page to your learning log and note down the similarities you find between images.’

This is my screen grab after googling ‘Live Music Photos’ on images. The images have a few common inclusions. Many are focusing on the audience participation – ie the hands raised in the air. There is also the inclusion of lights in bokeh form. And of course there are microphones, performers and instruments. What is interesting is the image including the text that I’d googled.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 14.06.11

‘Now take a number of your own photographs of the same subject.’

I have added a random selection of my own live music shots to compare. What is interesting here, in comparing these to the google results, is how each of these is focused very closely on the performers. When shooting in these situations my aim is to try and capture something of a single moment, as well as portraying something of the mood that the sound is creating.

Exercise experiment

These were all taken at a recent live music festival launch party in Brixton. Again, in these situations, I focus very much on the individual performers. This helps in overcoming taking shots in low light with movement. It also highlights the energy and emotion in the performers faces.


The Final Shot

There are many reasons for me choosing this as my final image. The movement in the performers hair, the definition in his fingers plucking the guitar strings, the dark shadow outlining the bottom half of the performer and then his face illuminated by the spotlight. There is an energy being conveyed at the same time there seems to be a sense that the artist is completely immersed in the moment.




Part Four – The Language of Light

Project 4 – Ex nihilo

‘In many ways studio photography is the exact opposite of working ‘in the world’. You don’t discover light in the studio, you build and shape it ‘ex nihilo’ – out of nothing.’

I was quite excited at the prospect of exploring ‘studio photography’ and developing skills in controlling the creativity through use of light. One thing I discovered immediately is what a steep learning curve this would be and how little I understood of this process.

The course material breaks down the areas to consider into four main points.

Quality – as pointed out this could be considered as quite a subjective area, however in terms of enhancing form and creating an aesthetically pleasing image, a suggestion of paying attention to the softness or hardness of the light to change the mood, crispness and detail helped in definition in relation to this brief.

Contrast – I find the notion of the fill light a little difficult to process. In this instance I used the dim window light coming through the blinds as my fill light. This was not ideal as it was static and its effectiveness was mostly influenced by changing the position of the key light in the room.

Direction – This is where I had most control for my Onion shots set up. I used a tripod lamp and changed both the angle, distance and height of the lamp for each shot. I am a fan of using shadows to enhance the composition of a shot and frame the form of an object. Unfortunately using the window as my fill light meant the shadows were quite dim.


Exercise 4.4

Use a combination of quality, contrast, direction and colour to light an object to reveal it’s form.

Shooting from above with equal angles from differing sides for the key and fill light creating an image with a small but dark shadow and flat background.


A more acute angle from the key light and shooting at eye level has enhanced the depth of field and created a multiple pale shadow pattern.


Key light and camera both at 0 degrees creates a pleasing ‘floating’ effect and leads the eye directly to the centre of the onion.


Equal angles again from the key and fill light – but this time a greater shooting distance. A double shadow enhances the depth of field and emphasises the spherical aspect of the onion.


Part four – The Language of Light

Project 2 – ‘Layered, complex and mysterious…’

Exercise 4.2

In manual mode take a sequence of shots of a subject at different times on a single day.

Early morning light

One of my favourite times of day to shoot. The length of the shadows and angle of the light brings a golden blue hue to the landscape. For ease I chose to shoot from my bedroom window. As the view is wide I used my wide angle lens, but focused on the reflection point in the window. The blue of the sky and the reflections are very clear. There is also a strong contrast between the areas lit by the sun and those in shadow, creating a very defined image.


Mid morning light

Nearly two hours later the shadows are less distinct on the buildings and the golden sheen on the flat roof has shifted. The window reflection and blue sky is still very clear. The colours on the buildings are less light blown and more vivid. The golden light from the sun is illuminating the mid points of the image now.


Mid afternoon light

The light has now washed the colour out of the foreground focus of the image. Shadows now allow the brick work in the buildings in the background to become more defined. The reflection in the window has disappeared and the black roof surrounding it is now almost white from being drenched in sunlight.


Early evening light

With the sun shifting the blue sky is now white, but the reflection has returned, revealing the blue tones,  The colours are more washed out overall and there is only a tiny edge of golden sunlight at the top of the background houses, this has created a satisfying chimney shadow on the side of the building.


Late evening light

The buildings are blocking out the final sunlight of the day, creating a flatter representation of the scene. All colours are muted by shadow, but more realistic in relation to each other.

Part Four – The Language of Light

Project 1 – Exposure

Exercise 4.1

Set your camera to auto and shoot three tones – dark, mid and light.

Add sketches of the histogram for each tone.

Dark tone photo


Histogram – dark ISO 320
Mid tone photo
histogram – mid tone – ISO 200
Light tone photo
Histogram – light tone – ISO 100

The exercise illustrates well the flaws in relying on the camera to judge the correct exposure for subjects due to gauging its light from the midtone in a frame. Something that I had already experienced in attempting to shoot details in moon shots, or the whiteness in snowy landscapes. Each of the highly diverse tones show very similar histogram patterns. The main difference being the change in ISO when set on auto.

Repeat the same process in manual mode using the meter scale to place the dark, mid and light tones correctly.

Dark tone photo in manual
Histogram sketch for dark tone in manual mode
Photo for mid tone in manual mode
Histogram for mid tone in manual mode
Photo for light tone in manual mode
Histogram for light tone in manual mode

By using the meter gauge zero point and moving to the left and right to compensate for the camera’s ‘mid tone’ adjustments, a truer representation of the actual tone is achieved.