Reflection following Exercise 4.5

Not so much a learning process, as a re-examination of things I already believed.

The verticals don’t have to be vertical. The subject doesn’t have to be in focus, or even the main focal point of the image. You don’t have to fit everything in… often, it’s better if you don’t.  The subject/object can be viewed in a non-typical context. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Details matter… or don’t… and imperfections can be perfect.

Sometimes it’s as much about what it feels like as what it looks like.

Looks horrible, but you still like it? Sounds good to me.


Exercise 4.5 – Chairs

A quick google search of ‘chairs’ produced mostly sales photos with plain backgrounds. This one was at least pleasing to look at.


Figure 1. Cotswold Country Interiors (2017)

My own images are somewhat different, and contrary to what the coursework asks for, I can’t narrow my selection down to one image.

Rather than be influenced by the works and styles of other photographers, given that this exercise is intended to demonstrate creativity, I’ve chosen to demonstrate my creativity.

These images represent the world I live in (literally), and the way I see it. They aren’t staged. What I’ve not done is try to make things look pretty. There is chaos, and abandonment and decay. I love these things, and see beauty  in them.


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… stepping away from that particular reality



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Lets move indoors…



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Figure 1. Cotswold Country Interiors. (2017) Chairs [Advertisement] AT (Accessed 03/04/2017)


Reflection following Exercise 4.4

I have no special studio equipment or lights, and so was using what I had to hand. (I have ordered some cheap gear from a chinese company who I do a little promotional work for, but it hasn’t arrived yet). As such, my light sources were weak and unable to cast significant light from any distance. This being the case, I was unable to see the effect, on shadows, of moving the lamps further away.

Nevertheless, I was able to see how the positioning and use of multiple light sources has a dramatic effect on the look of an object.

I have concluded that a light source directly in front of the object doesn’t look good at all, while having the light from one side balance out the light from the opposite side doesn’t look much better.

Two light sources, one stronger than the other, from different angles, seems to produce the most interesting images. In this way, it’s possible to create a sense of balanced depth. There are shadows, but they aren’t overstated.

My attempt to alter the colour of the light was largely ineffectual, but it did alter the atmosphere very slightly.  I’m sure proper colour gels on proper studio lighting could be very useful.

Exercise 4.4 – Studio Lighting

Examining the effects of controlled lighting.

There were two or three light sources in these images.

1: A Window on the right, about 10 feet away, with curtains either open or closed.

2: A small directional halogen lamp.

3: A battery powered bulb producing weak, non-directional, light.

Image 1

This image was taken as a reference shot, using just ambient light coming in through the window on the right. It’s blurred as I pressed the shutter manually and jogged the camera slightly. Doh!

The image is dull and unexceptional.



Image 2

Shot with light coming from the window on the right, and a small halogen lamp just out of shot, to the left.

The light from the lamp on the left combined with the ambient light coming from the right produces quite a flat looking image.



Image 3

Shot with ambient light from the window on the right, and a small halogen lamp pointing directly towards the pineapple, from the front.

The resulting image looks quite wrong, to my eyes. The lamp is set quite low, and to my mind, the pineapple just needs a set of fangs and a cape to complete the effect.



Image 4

Shot with ambient light from the window on the right, and a small halogen lamp just out of shot, to the right of the pineapple.

Strong shadows on the left of the pineapple.  High contrast. Not displeasing, but a little overstated.



Image 5

As the previous shot, but with the addition of a small battery powered bulb, in front and to the left of the pineapple.

I like this. There aren’t particularly strong shadows, but it isn’t flat and lifeless either.



Image 6

As the previous image, but with a green carrier bag over the halogen lamp.

Apart from making the shot slightly darker, the green bag didn’t have much effect on the pineapple. The tone of the background is slightly altered though. It looks like a nice warm evening. (It was around 10am).



Image 7

The curtains are now closed. There is a small halogen lamp covered with a green carrier bag just to the right of the pineapple.

As with the shot where the curtains were open (#4), this is a high contrast image with strong shadows. It seems slightly sharper, but not greatly different.



Image 8

The curtains are closed. The lamp with green bag are behind and to the right, while the battery powered bulb is behind and to the left.

I find this a very interesting image. With light to the rear, and the front of the pineapple in shadow, there’s a real feeling of depth.



Image 9

The curtains are open. The lamp in a green bag is to the right and slightly behind, while the bulb is to the right and slightly in front of the pineapple.

High contrast, with strong shadows.



Image 10

The curtains are open. The lamp in green bag is to the right and slightly behind the pineapple. The bulb is to the left and slightly behind the pineapple.  The shot was deliberately overexposed and then contrast and vibrance were boosted in post.

I was just messing around to see if I could achieve a ‘high key’ effect.  I may have overdone it.



Reflection following Exercise 4.3

Compared with Exercise 4.2, I found working with artificial light more predictable and enjoyable. While it can be limiting, in terms of subject matter…. you can’t go and shoot landscapes in artificial light…  I like the predictability (and sometimes, controllability).

While it would have been nice to go out and shoot dramatic atmospheric images like Dan Holdsworth, the necessary atmospheric conditions just weren’t there, so I found myself interested in much smaller details and subjects.

Multiple light sources of different qualities make for very interesting images, though I also found these the hardest to shoot, while for reasons that I don’t understand, highly coloured light causes some software problems.

While the subject matter and general feel of these images is varied, I do find there’s one thing that’s common to all of them. They have a sense of stillness. In some it might be odd, with a certain tension… but all are calm and quiet. I like that a lot.

Exercise 4.3 – The Beauty of Artificial Light

Sometimes I find myself stumped as to what to take photos of, when it comes to exercises and assignments. For this one, I found myself spoilt for choice… and I didn’t have to travel far.

Image 1


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Fake sunflowers and a clutter of personal hygiene and health products.

The window in the en suite. The only available light is from the street light outside, filtered through patterned glass.


Image 2


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Fence, bushes, abandoned chairs, and an LED lamp that’s imitating a candle.

There are multiple light sources here, from a neighbour’s garden light, the light in my kitchen, and dimmest of all, though the only one seen directly, the LED lamp.

I took a similar shot of this scene, with the lamp in focus, but I find this one, when viewed as a larger image, has more points of interest, in the fence and details on the abandoned chairs.


Image 3


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Phone, router and plugs, in a cubby in the kitchen.

The LEDs are not especially bright, but in a confined space and with a long exposure, they create an interesting atmosphere. If it were red, I’d call it a warm glow, but in green, it’s kind of alien.


Image 4


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Fairylights in the kitchen.

This was a difficult image to render. For some reason, loading the RAW image into Photoshop’s ‘Camera Raw’ feature produced an oversaturated mass of blue, with a huge loss of detail, that looked nothing like the camera had shown in it’s display. I had to use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional to render the image.


Image 5


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An untidy garage at night.

There are multiple light sources here. A battery powered bulb in the garage, street lights out of shot, and a garden light illuminating the garage door in the other side of the street. These multiple sources make an interesting and varied image.

This was the only image that required multiple shots, with various apertures and exposures, before I could get things looking the way I wanted.


Image 6


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In the fridge.

A single, dim light source with a grille across it, in a confined space, with beads of water and white surroundings. What’s not to like?

Reflection following Exercise 4.2

Clearly, the time of day can have a dramatic effect of the look of a photograph. The mood and atmosphere of essentially identical shots can be significantly different, entirely due to the quality of the light.

What I am learning, not so much from this exercise, but from broader studies, is that what makes a ‘nice’ or even ‘beautiful’ photograph, often is the exact opposite of what is regarded as the norm, or desirable, in contemporary art photography.

The current trend is to seek a flat tone, so that the objects within the image are the important factor. Context and meaning… not mood, seem to be the order of the day.

I’m actually finding myself somewhat troubled by this, as in the context of this module, I’m unsure if I’m supposed to be demonstrating technical skills while working with different qualities of light, or creating art, which seems to shun those very skills.

Indeed, it seems that much of what is considered desirable in modern art photography runs counter to the skills being taught in this module. Obviously, it’s better to have the skills and then not use them, than not have them, and find you need them. I do, though, wonder what we are marked on when it comes to assessment. Art, or technical skill? (Assuming I’m capable of either, as I find I’m having a crisis of confidence right now).