Assignment 4: Languages of Light

Assignment 4 requires us to revisit one of the previous exercises on daylight, artificial light, or studio light, and build on that work.

While researching, I was struck by the ‘Phantom’ series, (Luxemburg, 2003), and concluded that, though I could not emulate Luxemburg’s representations of a city, depicting future plans within a contemporary scene, I could at least try to emulate her use of long exposures in urban settings.  Unfortunately, ill health and other circumstances prevented me from getting out much at night, and in the little time I managed, I was unable to produce results that I was happy with.

While having to work from home initially seemed like a serious restriction, I found examining works such as ‘Ray of Light’ (Crewdson, 2007) inspiring.  His detailed control of all elements of a scene, and particularly the lighting, produces images that I find very striking. So I experimented with controlling the lighting in both interior and exterior scenes, attempting to achieve a certain atmosphere or mood.

What I have done for this assignment is a development of the work I did on both artificial light, and studio light, combining the methodologies, to produce images that I’m pleased with.

In Exercise 4.3, I found locations in and around my home with striking or interesting forms of artificial light, while in Exercise 4.4, I controlled the lighting of a pineapple in studio conditions, to create different effects.

For this assignment, I chose locations in and around my home, and controlled the lighting conditions with one or more battery powered tungsten bulbs, to produce interesting lighting conditions. Some of these locations already had an amount of artificial light coming from other sources, which increased the complexity of the lighting within the shot.

All of the following shots were taken using a Canon EOS 1300D using a converted Vivitar 28mm fully manual lens.  All shots were taken in fully manual mode, with manual focusing.

Image #1


28mm. F8. 20 sec. ISO 200. No flash.     View at 1000 x 1500

The lighting in this scene is complex, with street lights reflecting from the fronts of the facing houses, a garden light reflecting from the green garage door opposite, and the ‘blue hour’ sky offering a little natural light. I supplemented this with a single, battery powered tungsten bulb, positioned quite high, to light the interior scene.

The image is deliberately tilted slightly, not just to create an off balance sensation when viewing this image, but to also to use this sensation to good effect when moving on to the next image. The viewer should already be feeling a little unsure of what they’re looking at.


Image #2


28mm. F4. 30 sec. ISO 200. No flash.   View at 1000 x 1500

The scene looks entirely staged, but is actually just a load of old furniture dumped in the back garden, waiting to go in a skip. I find it visually pleasing, due to the surreal nature of office furniture in an outdoor setting.

The tungsten bulb was placed on the chair, which was angled to hide it. The back of the chair is lit by a neighbour’s garden light.


Image #3


28mm. F4. 13sec. ISO 100. No flash.  1000 x 1500

Dead flowers on a windowsill. This is a reshoot of an earlier image. A lot of clutter on the work surface was removed to make for a more focused image, but unfortunately, these flowers aren’t as dead, or unusual looking, as those used in the earlier shot.

The lighting is quite complex, with two battery powered tungsten bulbs. One is placed some distance from the flowers, directly in front of them, and the other is wrapped in green, yellow and blue carrier bags, to create a warm feel, and is being held in my hand, out to the side of the flowers, while I take the shot. There is also street lighting reflected from the clouds outside, hence the colour of the sky through the window.

I was concerned about the move from outdoors to indoors, but feel the flowers in this shot and the last create a connecting theme.


Image #4


28mm. F4. 20sec. ISO 200. No flash.  View at 1000 x 1500

More complex lighting. There is the obvious light coming from the microwave, plus green and blue LEDs reflected from a router and a printer, out of shot. There is also one battery powered tungsten bulb, again wrapped in 3 coloured carrier bags, producing a warm fill light.


Image #5


28mm. F4. 25sec. ISO 200. No flash.  View at 1000 x 1500

The lighting for this shot it quite simple. There is one battery powered tungsten bulb, wrapped in 3 coloured carrier bags. Placed at about waist height, to the right of the scene, it produces pleasing shadows on the wall. There’s also a small amount of light from a street light, visible on the door in the mirror.

I find the colour of the light produced by this bulb, when placed in the bags, is very pleasing. It reminds me somewhat of very early morning sunlight, or even candle light.


Image #6


28mm. F4. 25sec. ISO 200. No flash.  View at 1000 x 1500

The light is from a street light coming in through a window, and one tungsten bulb, placed on the floor to the right of the scene. There is also light from a TV in the next room, reflecting off the wall.


In terms of creativity, I have tried to capture a sense of the surreal, or a feeling of oddness. Sometimes this is through unusual compositions, which focus the viewer’s eye on details they might not normally give a second glance.  Sometimes it is through arrangements of items placed out of context. Sometimes it is just pausing to look at the stillness of an everyday scene, but in a different light. Always, the light is used for maximum effect.

When I showed her these photos, my wife said “I know that’s our house, but I don’t recognise it.” This is what I’m aiming for. ‘Otherness’.

(Word count: 1015)


Link to Exercise 4.5

Contact Sheets

Contact Sheet #1

Contact Sheet #2

Contact Sheet #3

Contact Sheet #4

Contact Sheet #5

Contact Sheet #6


Crewdson, G. (2007) In: The Genius of Photography Episode 6 – Snap Judgements [DVD]BBC  Viewable at (Accessed 05/05/2017)

Crewdson, G. (2001) ‘Ray of Light’ In: Bright, S. (2005) Art Photography Now. London: Thames and Hudson. pp.79

Luxemburg, R. B. (2003) ‘Phantom’ In: Bright, S. (2005) Art Photography Now. London: Thames and Hudson. pp.202-204


Author: Photos Things and Stuff

Study Log for Expressing Your Vision module, for BA (Hons) Photography Degree with OCA

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