The lighting angle

This was without a doubt the most difficult and frustrating exercise I have attempted so far.  Difficult because I found the juggling of flash and diffuser quite tricky.  I tried a variety of flashes; my SB 600 with a sync cord that wasn’t really long enough for me to get all the angles required.  Also two studio flash units I bought a little while ago, but then wasn’t sure if the umbrella acted as a diffuser, or is it a reflector?  I also found that I needed to trigger the studio flashes with another flash, e.g. the camera’s flash, but covered so that it didn’t interfere with what I was trying to achieve.

Lit from behind producing a silhouette

In the end, I’m not sure what I achieved, I started by writing down the angle of the flash but got side-tracked so I will have to go by where the light falls on the pictures to decide where the light was in any particular instance.  This is clearly something that takes a lot of practice to find what works best.  If I get the chance within the next day or two I will attempt this again but with a small desk lamp rather than flash.  Then all I will have to think about is the position of the light, holding the diffuser and the remote shutter release!

Lit from the side, highlighting the edges

It is just as well I was taking pictures of a small ornament rather than someone’s face as my model would be long gone by now.

I could see from my efforts so far that those pictures taken with the light by the camera produced quite a lot of detail and fairly strong shadows and those with the light directly behind, more of a silhouetted image.

Lit from above producing a 3D effect

For me, the ones that produce more of a 3D effect are those with the light above the subject.  I will check this again though when I repeat the exercise with a solid light but I felt that the form and texture was more obvious in these shots.  One other thing that I need to revisit with all of these pictures is exposure because clearly the strength of the light has a big impact on whether the image is under or over exposed.  One of the things that surprised me with the studio lighting was that sometime it was not strong enough and other times it completely washed the picture out.  I guess another thing I need to think about is the distance between the light and the subject.  I had hoped to have had this unit finished by the end of this week – fat  chance!!

I’ve had another go at this activity using a desk lamp as lighting and although it was still quite tricky, and I’m not sure the lamp was really strong enough, it was much easier to adjust the exposure and get consistent results.  I used the same small bear and was much happier with the outcome.

photographed with solid lighting from above and slightly to the front

Updated 2nd Feb 12: Of all of the pictures taken I still think that those taken from above the subject show the form and texture of the subject better and my favourite is this one taken above and slightly to the front.  In each case, apart from the first one, I used a diffuser and it is obvious the difference this makes in terms of the harshness of the light and the strength of the shadows.  It is still something of a juggling act and I found that in several of the pictures, the cable of the lamp was showing.  I also found that, taking these photographs in the evening, I had to remember to switch the lights in the room off so that this did not interfere with the lighting, so many things to remember but I guess it is just a matter of practice, practice, practice.

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About Anne Bryson

I live in Gloucestershire with my husband Iain and West Highland Terrier, Isla. I enjoy golf, photography and my grandchildren, not necessarily in that order! Having completed a 10 week digital photography course with the Open University in 2010, I decided I wanted to take my photography further and enrolled for the Open College of the Arts BA (Hons) starting with 'The Art of Photography' which I enjoyed so much that I went gone on to do Digital Photographic Practice and People and Place. In April 2016 I enrolled on my fourth OCA photography course, Documentary. This blog is my Learning Log for this course.
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