Year Two (33) – Understanding Light.

Last year I experimented with Eggs and the effects of aperture and shutter speed, this week on #Ayearwithmycamera – Emma challenged us to look at the direction of light and thought that this was a great opportunity to put my camera in manual and take it through its paces … and I thought I would share my results.

The camera settings I choose to use were: ISO100 (least amount of grain) F8, 1/200 sec – I was shooting in my lounge on a glass table with the blinds pulled to limit the ambient light. I had the camera on a tripod, I focused the camera for the first image and then left it alone so the only thing I changed was the flash. With the flash off camera and to the right of the flowers I experimented with the power of the flash – I was using my canon speedlite with a snood attached to add direction to the light.

Flash Strength
Flash Strength

From the above experiment I decided to stick with a manual flash power of 1/16th – at the lower power I felt that the image was too dark, at full power the highlights were blown and too much background was included – but around 1/16 power I liked the feel of the image – so decided for the rest of today’s shoot I would leave the camera and the flash settings alone.

Direct Flash
Direct Flash

I then decided next I would move the flash, instead of lighting from the side, I would pop the flash on top of my camera – still with the modifier (snood) attached. Aiming the snood towards the flowers and I realised my camera was too high to showcase the flowers, and straight away I can see the wall lit up behind, bouncing off the ceiling and there is not enough light to create an image – removing the snood and the direct flash leave a harsh shadow on the wall behind and includes all the clutter of my lounge, trying again to bounce if off the ceiling now that there is more light, and the results are more pleasing but way to dark – if this was my only option I would need to include more flash.

Different modifiers
Different modifiers

My next experiment was with modifiers – I moved the flash to 45 degrees from the camera and only changed the light modifier … I started with the snood, I then did one without a modifier, added a white umbrella which I put the light through. I then tried closing the umbrella as the background was too bright. I then changed to a silver lined umbrella and bounced the light first with it fully open and then partly open and then repeated this with an umbrella that was silver and white on the inside.For my final shot I moved the umbrella behind the tulips to back light it. I really liked the silver umbrella lighting and the more directional lighting of the snood ….

I decided I would continue with the Snood and under take Emma’s Lighting Challenge – her idea was to control the light from direct directions to see what impact it has on the image, she suggested we could try natural light or flash, and as I want to learn more flash skills I thought this was the best option for me.

I experimented with the flash to the right, left, above, behind, below (thank goodness for the glass table) and in front – I tried to keep the light source a similar distance from the subject and my settings were the same throughout. It really highlighted to me – how light can make or break an image, how I want to avoid direct flash if at all possible and how by taking control you really can change an image.

The angle of Light
The angle of Light

Before I show an edited shot – all the above are straight from camera, although cropped… I want to share some of my set up – this image was taken on my iphone – as I had the tulips set up…. You can see the tulips balanced on a glass table, the camera in to the left and the umbrellas with the silver and white inside lighting the flowers, throughout the session – the only thing that moved was the light!

PhotoChallenge-setup-1

This is one of my favourite images – this is with the silver umbrella bouncing the light onto my subject, the background is dark, I dodged it in photoshop to enhance the darkness, the colours are vibrant and the shadows add depth, the vase clearly shows you the light source is the the left of the image and the curve of the flowers almost indicates they are growing towards the light.

I hope you like it too … thanks to my mum for the tulips and for my dutch friends on the water tip!

Silver umbrella bouncing the light - open
Silver umbrella bouncing the light – open
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