Monthly Archives: November 2016

Part four – Project 4 – Exercise 4.5

Exercise 4.5

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

Then take a number of your own photographs of the same subject.  Add a final image to your learning log, together with a selection of preparatory shots.  In your notes describe how your photograph differs from your google images.


Here is a screen grab of my google images search results based on the word ‘egg’.


The similarities would include; most of the images are ‘clean’ just of the item giving in most cases not much context, however, most people are familiar with an egg so have the context already.  The images are crisp and focused well with good lighting.  Most have a few soft shadows but not a lot of contrast to them.  Most ‘product’ shots use the standard white background which is a bit of a cliche but effective at showing definition of edges. The thing about eggs is that the ‘Corporates’ in the egg industry want to objectify them as it makes it easier for people to eat them.  I love the chick’s head coming out of the egg, to me this breaks the normal representation as it makes people think more about what the egg actually is.

Here are my contact sheets for this exercise:

google-images-egg-contact-sheet-1 google-images-egg-contact-sheet-2

From the above contact sheets I have selected the following image as my comparison to one of the google images above:


The main differences between the Google images at the start of this post and my image are as follows:

  • My image has more shadows than those typically found on Google,
  • The background in my image is more grey, whereas Google’s are bright white, and
  • There is branding in my image but Google shows brand-less images.

This completes my submission for Exercise 4.5 and I move on to the submission of  Assignment four.

Part four – Project 4 – Exercise 4.4

Project 4: ‘Ex Nihilo’
This section is all about studio lighting.

Exercise 4.4

Use a combination of quality, contrast direction and colour to light an object in order to reveal its form.

I decided to use my trusty egg, whom I have now grown fond of, as my subject for this exercise. I set up a white gloss table top to work on and used a white backdrop.  I set my camera up on a tripod to ensure a consistent view.  I used a hand-held light for this exercise which gave off a very white light @ 6000 kelvin which helped with the white balance issue.  Note: my contact sheets below show all my shooting data for reference.

I lit the egg using several different and combination of lighting direction, proximity and technique; playing with lighting to show the egg’s form.  Included in this experimentation I also tried some multiple exposures with the egg and other objects / lighting to see how that could work to show off the egg’s form in a different way.


studio-light-led-4-4-1 studio-light-led-4-4-2


Here is my sequence of 5 unique shots together with their lighting diagram; showing the position of the camera, the subject and the direction of the key light and fill.

img_9118  1

img_9131  2

img_9135  3

img_9157  4

img_9111  5

What are the similarities between the qualities of controlled lighting and the daylight and ambient artificial light shots from Exercises 4.2 and 4.3?  Each of the lighting options; daylight, artificial and studio:

  • allow forms to be expressed and represented (light and shadow),
  • adhere to the same light laws e.g. inverse square law, hard light/soft light etc.
  • are reflected, absorbed and diffused by the things around it, and
  • can be the sole reason for why an image works or doesn’t.

It is becoming more and more apparent to me by going through this course that lighting is something a photographer needs to understand well to achieve the best results in any given situation.  I continue to learn and grow as a photographer in this area but there is still so much more to try and experiment with and these exercises have only just been the tip of the iceberg for me.

This completes my submission for Exercise 4.4, now on to Exercise 4.5.

Part four – Project 3 – Exercise 4.3

Project 3: ‘The beauty of artificial light’
This section is all about artificial light e.g. neon signage.

Exercise 4.3

Capture ‘the beauty of artificial light’ in a short sequence of shots.  The correct white balance will be important.  Describe the difference in the quality of light from the daylight shots in Exercise 4.2.

I am lucky that I do not live too far from a busy high street of shops and restaurants so I used this location for carrying out this exercise.  I used the work of Sato Shintaro as my inspiration.

For most of the shots I had my camera set to a relatively slow shutter speed so that I could also incorporate the light trails from the passing vehicles into my images.  As a result of using slow shutter speeds I needed to use a tripod to ensure the shots were not blurred (although that may have resulted in some interesting effects).

First I thought I would share my contact sheets from this exercise so you can see the different things I experimented with when looking for this subjective beauty we were tasked to find.




Here is my short sequence of selected images from the above to demonstrate the ‘beauty of artificial light’.  It certainly felt a bit voyeuristic but I was pleased with the results.

img_9337 img_9339 img_9348 img_9355 img_9379 img_9394

Quality is subjective but I would say the main differences in the light quality between daylight and artificial light are:

  • Soft light vs hard light: daylight can give both soft and hard light, dependent upon if there are any clouds to diffuse the light and where the subject is positioned in comparison to the sun (the light source).  Artificial light is generally more softer, probably due to its placement. It can be different colours and can give a lot more atmosphere to a scene.
  • White Balance: I think it is harder to ‘balance’ artificial light than it is for daylight because there are extremes of colour and contrast to contend with and usually multiple sources. Generally you will be taking artificial light images against a backdrop of difficult dark lighting conditions, where you may need to increase your ISO (sensitivity) so you can expose correctly.  The results of this is potentially more grain.  With daylight you can choose the time of the day to use the available ambient light to its best and it is only one source you need to worry about exposing for.

This completes my submission for Exercise 4.3, which concludes Project 3.  Now on to Project 4 – ‘Ex Nihilo’ and Exercise 4.4.

Part four – Project 2 – Exercise 4.2

Project 2: ‘Layered, complex and mysterious…’
This section is all about daylight or what some call natural light.

Exercise 4.2

In manual mode take a sequence of shots of a subject of your choosing at different times on a single day.  Briefly describe the quality of light in each image.

I used my camera on a tripod to ensure that each image was taken from the same viewpoint to give consistency.  I set the aperture (f/8) and ISO (400) as constants and at each point an image was captured I brought the camera’s light meter back to 0 (zero) by adjusting the shutter speed to ensure the exposure was consistent, according to the camera’s light meter.



08:08 19/11/2016


09:07 19/11/2016


09:53 19/11/2016


10:27 19/11/2016


12:34 19/11/2016


13:39 19/11/2016


13:55 19/11/2016


14:29 19/11/2016


15:10 19/11/2016


16:26 19/11/2016


17:00 19/11/2016

















The light started out quite blue.  Sunrise on the day that I took these images was 07:23. The light became less blue as time passed. There was more light as the sun rose and the light moved to a warmer colour. Peaking at ‘golden hour’.  Nearer sunset it moved back to blue tones.  Sunset on this day was at 16:02.

Comparing the quality of light in these images is difficult as it depends on what look and feel you are trying to achieve in your images. The word quality implies that there is a time of the day where light is generally better for taking images.

With regards to the tone of light I think it depends on what you want to achieve as to which part of the day has the right quality you seek,



e.g. golden hour approx. 1 hour before sunset is a beautifully glowing experience and a brilliant time for taking images – here is one I took at just that time of the day:


Intensity/brightness is a quality of light but not in the sense that to have high intensity light is necessarily better or worse than not having it.  The intensity of light might help facilitate a specific exposure setting to be achieved e.g. when a fast shutter speed is needed to freeze motion of a fast-moving subject, which also requires a deep depth of field.

For further information the start and end times for other light measures on this day in Gillingham, Kent were:

Morning astronomical twilight 05:25 06:05
Morning nautical twilight 06:05 06:46
Morning civil twilight 06:46 07:23
Sunrise and sunset 07:23 16:02
Evening civil twilight 16:02 16:39
Evening nautical twilight 16:39 17:20
Evening astronomical twilight 17:20 18:00

Twilight is the illumination of the Earth’s lower atmosphere when the Sun itself is not directly visible because it is below the horizon. Twilight is produced by sunlightscattering in the upper atmosphere, illuminating the lower atmosphere so that the surface of the Earth is neither completely lit nor completely dark. The word twilight is also used to denote the periods of time when this illumination occurs.

This completes my submission for Exercise 4.2, which concludes Project 2.  Now on to Project 3 – ‘The beauty of artificial light’ and Exercise 4.3.


Twilight, Available at: (Accessed: 20 November 2016).

Sunrise and sunset in Gillingham, Kent, Available at: (Accessed: 20 November 2016).

Part four – Project 1 – Exercise 4.1

Project 1: Exposure
This section is all about light.

Exercise 4.1 / Part 1

Set your camera to any of the auto or semi-auto modes.  Photograph a dark tone, a mid-tone and a light tone, making sure the tone fills the viewfinder frame.

I used a black pair of trousers for my dark tone, the inside of a cereal packet for my mid-tone and a sheet of white paper for the light tone.  I put each by the window to photograph so I had as much natural light as possible, this was to help with obtaining a reasonable shutter speed whilst using the camera hand-held.

Even though the 3 materials were clearly different in tone to the naked eye, the camera did not ‘see’ things the same way. Here are the results for you to see:

Black trousers (dark tone)

Inside of a cereal packet (mid tone)

Sheet of white paper (light tone)

You might have reasonably expected the histograms to reflect the tones the camera was capturing, instead the histograms have captured what appears to be a mid-toned exposure for each of the images even though clearly to the naked eye the tones are very different.

“This simple exercise exposes the obvious flaw in calibrating the camera’s light meter to the mid-tone.”  As the camera averages each exposure around the mid-tone it does not know if the scene is dark or light.  The camera measures reflected light, not incident light i.e. the light which falls on to an object.  This is why a light meter is used, as a light meter measures incident light.

As you will see as I work through the exercises in this part of the course the camera can make some decisions about exposure for you and on fully automatic mode it does a pretty good job, however there are other times when you will not want the camera to do this and in those circumstances you will need to take your images on the manual camera setting mode.

Exercise 4.1 / Part 2

Set your camera to manual mode.  Photograph a dark tone, a mid-tone and a light tone, making sure the tone fills the viewfinder frame.

As with part 1 of this exercise I used a black pair of trousers for my dark tone, the inside of a cereal packet for my mid-tone and a sheet of white paper for the light tone.  N
ow that the camera is set to manual, the camera’s light meter is visible.


Black trousers (dark tone)

img_8367-awb-m-dark-tone  dark

Inside of a cereal packet (mid tone)

img_8366-awb-m-mid-tone  mid

Sheet of white paper (light tone)

img_8369-awb-m-light-tone   light

As you can see, this time the histograms are in the expected place and correspond to the relevant tonal values.

The reason for this is “Switching to manual mode disconnects the aperture, shutter and ISO so they’re no longer linked.  Because they’re no longer reciprocal, you can make adjustments to any one of them without affecting the others.”

The correct exposure can be achieved in a number of different ways, using a different combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  It is important to understand the interaction between these 3 settings so you can make the correct choices under different shooting circumstances.

e.g. F8 1/60 sec. ISO 100   =   F5.6 1/125 sec. ISO 100   =   F8 1/125 sec. ISO 200

The ability to use different combinations of the three setting to get the same exposure is called Reciprocity.

Since I got my camera I have predominately used the manual setting and at times I have been frustrated with my trial and error approach when trying to get the correct exposure.  I understand how to use my camera’s light meter and heavily rely on this, to know whether an image will be under exposed or over exposed.  However, this part of the course has given me a greater understanding of how each of the exposure triangle components work in isolation and together, and that there isn’t just one way of exposing for an image.  I will experiment more knowing this and try to understand what each scene needs from a lighting persepctive and select the exposure elements as appropriate.

This completes my submission for Exercise 4.1 which concludes Project 1.  Now on to Project 2, ‘Layered, complex and mysterious…’ and Exercise 4.2.

Part four ‘The Language of light’ – Introduction

For this part of the course we are going to look at light; daylight, artificial and studio light.

To be a good photographer you must have some concept of how light works (behaves). 

Thankfully we already know a lot about light instinctively (even if we don’t realise it).  How it behaves is part of the world around us and we learn from a very early age about life with and without light i.e. light and dark. 

[At this point I would like to apologise to any blind photographers out there, and there are some, who will not have experienced light in the same way as I am about to reflect upon.] 

For example, we know from a very young age that when the sun is out it casts shadows and one of my earliest memories of this is chasing my own shadow trying desperately to stamp on it. Of course as soon as you lift your foot up the shadow moves away from you and you never ever get close enough to stamp on it.  It is then that you realise that if you hold your arm or body in a particular position, contort your body, leg and foot round a bit then you can stamp on the shadow of another part of your body – I know you are dying to try this out now eh? 

The other main experience where I learnt about light was as a child when we had to get the candles out in a power cut or when our generator went down.  We lived down an unmade road in the country (without mains water in the earlier days) so losing the electric was a ‘thing’ and in the storm of 1987 we were without pretty much any power for nearly a week and candles were a staple in our household, them and matches. Most people where we lived were prepared for this so had calor gas cookers and wood burners for heat.   That said when only one room was being heated the cold bucket of water that was the shower was not much fun!   I look back now at those days with whimsy.

Anyway, back on track…. candle light, a small light source which can cast harsh shadows on an object… Also, in the middle of a wood a lone candle could create quite a spooky atmosphere.  So I also learnt that light could create a feeling.

When I went to secondary school I had aspirations of being a lighting technician for the school’s amateur dramatic productions.  It was then that I realised how lighting could be used as a tool to direct the eye of the audience to a particular place on stage (and could ruin a performance if it wasn’t done right).

All that said, when I started photography I felt like I had to learn about light again but from a more technical perspective rather than an intuitive one.  Things like the ‘inverse square law’, reflective and refractive materials, angles of incidence… definitely more science than art, although get the lighting right and your image art can come to life.

There is a quote in the course notes that I will share with you…

“Amateurs worry about sharpness, pros worry about money, photographers worry about light.” [anon]

I think I sit somewhere between amateur and photographer at the moment but I get the point and I do find myself increasingly wanting to experiment more with light rather than my camera.

Prelim chatty bit over, now it’s time to get on with the course exercise – Project 1: Exposure.

24 November 2016 – Discovery Day Challenge (Digital)

For this competition, the challenge was that photos had to be taken on the clubs day out in Whitstable.  They had to be from a specified area within Whitstable and all taken on the same ‘Challenge’ day (25 September 2016).  For this competition a maximum of 6 entries were permitted.  There were 50 entries in total.

The judge for the evening was Stephen Carroll ARPS.
All scores are out of 20.
1st, 2nd, 3rd and two Highly Commended places given.


Coast Life scored 17

The elements; the dog in the bottom left, the man in the red middle right and the boat top left, worked well in a triangular formation.

The square frame was the right choice for this composition.  It all hangs together.





Old Guys Rule scored 17

The desaturation works well with no obvious bright areas to draw the eye away from the subject.  The light area to the right of the subject work well in contrast and defines the subject more.




Old Neptune scored 16

Lots of light tones which work well together.  The right amount of detail.  Would look to darken the shingle at the bottom edge as this would make the image stronger.  A bit of fringing around one of the chimneys.




Reflextions scored 16

An intriguing image.  Would have expected to see the photographer in the reflection also.  Technically well done.







Surf the Moment scored 20 and won 1st Place

Desaturation works well, lots of blue tones. The vignette works to ensure there are no light patches at the edges or in the corners, so your eye is drawn to the main focus.






Tyred of Whitstable scored 17

No bright areas.  Good shallow depth of field, brings the eye back to the main focus of the image and the other periphery items are just scene setting.


My personal favourite was the photo that came in 2nd Place.  I was convinced it would take the crown!!

The other comments on the other images which I learn from were:
– if you are taking a ‘details’ shot, one that want the viewer to wander their eye around it needs to be sharp, have a good depth of field so make sure the right areas are in focus and the contrast needs to be balanced.
– Watch out for bright patches within the frame especially at the corners.
– Look for good textures and complimentary tones.
– Having a colour running throughout helps hold an image together.
– when using monochrome take care on the contrast, which is key.
– When focussing a deep shot try to get the foreground in focus if nothing else, it adds strength to an image.
– depending on the image, square and letterbox formats can work well.
– Take care when positioning subjects in front of things that they don’t merge into the background.
– Not every image works in monochrome.

And that concludes my update on this week’s digital competition judging.