Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The Beginning

Course:  Expressing Your Vision

Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The Beginning

I looked at an apple for such a long time until it became the first apple I had ever seen. I was so excited that I called a friend to tell him my experience. But how could I find the right words for what I had experienced? How could I describe my visual sensations with literary words such as red, yellow, green, shining and round after this movement of nuances and counteractions in form and colour, even in touch and smell? Anyhow I did not find the right words and my friend did not believe me, so I ate the apple as I have eaten many an apple before. It was a fairly good apple. [accessed 16/06/14]

Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part Four (4.2, 4.3 or 4.4) and prepare it for formal assignment submission.  Create a set of between six and ten finished images. For the images to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, for instance a subject, or a particular period of time.

Format of my Blog response:
As with previous Assignments, where text from my official response to my tutor has been included I will highlight this to enable you (the reader) to distinguish between what is just ‘chat’ i.e. my ‘thoughts’, and what has been ‘submitted’.  This will help contextualise my tutor’s response/critique and any rework that is/has been requested.

Initial Thoughts:
This assignment, once I had thought about and selected the idea I wanted to convey, really captured my imagination.  I loved creating the story line and to imagine how the interactions between the objects might develop, take shape and work.  I felt for the first time on the course, with this assignment, that I had considered my photography as experimental from a creativity point of view, rather than following a straight forward recording process.  It was work with a narrative which I enjoyed immensely.

I chose studio lighting as I have a general interest in portraiture photography and still life, I think, is the closest photography genre to this.   Also I am lucky enough to have access to a space where I can set up a still life and know that a day / a week later it will still be there waiting for me to continue my project.

When I decided to go with this idea/theme for my assignment I posted on the OCA forum to see if anyone had come across any famous/recognised photographers who had done this kind of thing already in an attempt to use them as an influence.  There were a few suggestions for photographers who had taken images of;

But these were not exactly what I was after.  One of the OCA Tutors said that I shouldn’t worry about looking out examples but instead just dive in and give it a go, which is what I did.

One OCA student suggested I take a look at Pat Flynn’s work which was definitely closer to what I had in mind but in animation form, however, I particularly liked the still on his website of a melon sending out green gas towards a hanging lemon, this made me laugh. It reminded me of a Halloween past when our neighbour carved a throwing up pumpkin and the sick was all the pumpkin pips and innards pulled out through the mouth space.  I liked the sense of humor in that melon example and thought this was an idea, that given time, I would like to develop further.  Maybe it will appear again in another course….

Enough chat, the following was my submission to my tutor for this assignment…

I decided to go back to Exercise 4.4 from Project 4, Ex Nihilo (meaning ‘out of nothing’ in Latin) and use this as the springboard for this assignment. I felt comfortable with each of the lighting techniques in this part of the course but felt studio lighting would be the most appropriate for what I wanted to do for this assignment.

My idea was to create a set of images which told a story; using studio lighting in a creative way to create a sense of mood and relationship between two inanimate objects i.e. using form, lighting and positioning to imply a connection (anthropomorphism/personification).

I chose to use an egg (the same egg from previous exercises) and a desk lamp as my two subjects. I moved the subjects around to get what I considered to be the right positions to tell the story and to achieve the lighting required to compliment each part of the narrative.

The light from the desk lamp is used to indicate where and at what it is ‘looking’ and consequently comes across as the main subject or controlling entity. The egg takes on a more passive role but is crucial to the successful interplay between the two subjects.

I noticed that as I worked with the egg throughout this part of the course I started to treat the egg with more consideration and care, which amused me after reading the quote in the course notes from Ernst Haas (1921-86), who was considered to be one of the pioneers of colour photography. He described his experience of seeing the ordinary in an original way: “I looked at an apple for such a long time until it became the first apple I had ever seen. I was so excited…”. I can relate to this and note that Ernst Haas also anthropomorphised in his photography see; Binoculars, NY 1952.

From a technical perspective I used a Canon 70D with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens. My contact sheets and shooting data show that I used fairly consistent camera settings to achieve the required look and feel to the images.

The colour of the light given off by the bulb in the desk lamp was very orange giving an all over orange glow to the images. I wanted to create more of a low key intimate feeling to the images so I moved the colour temperature from 5150k to 3200k giving more of a bluish tone/cooler temperature to the images.

With regards to identifying a photographer mentioned in part four of the course whose approach to light might link into mine, I would suggest Irving Penn (1917-2009) who photographed still life objects, including eggs ref: “Broken Egg, New York, 1959”. Penn thought that ‘still life was more than just a study of objects’. He was a technical perfectionist and was among the first photographers to pose subjects in front of a plain white/grey background. His still life compositions were minimal and very thoughtfully put together.

Please follow this link for the next section: Assignment four – ‘Languages of Light’ – The Middle

WordWeb: English dictionary, thesaurus, and word finder software. 2016. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed November 2016].

Binoculars, NY 1952. Ernst Haas Estate [Accessed November 2016].

Irving Penn, Available at: (Accessed:  November 2016).

Still Life in Photography: Irving Penn, Available at: (Accessed: November 2016).


One thought on “Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The Beginning

  1. Pingback: Assignment four – ‘Languages of light’ – The Middle | BA (Hons) Photography : A Different Perspective

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