The second part of this project required me to start thinking about using controlled artificial light to light my subjects. As can be seen in my previous assignment for TAoP, it is not an area that I am well versed in. However, it is good to get the push to do it and expand not only my technical abilities but also my photographic vision.
The exercise concentrated on softening the light and in doing so, my subject would also be affected. The first photograph would be set up with a naked tungsten light (i.e. not diffused) pointing directly down on to my subject. My camera (on a tripod), pointed slightly down on to the subject. White balance is set to ‘tungsten’. As with all my exercises the photographs are straight from camera unless otherwise stated. It is worth noting that there was a substantial amount of natural light coming in through a door from the left. This makes for a cold background in contrast to the warmth of the foreground.
As can be seen from the image above there are some things to note here. Firstly that the light is not directly above the elephant. I hadn’t got the ability to get it directly above. So it is slightly offset. This in turn means the shadows on the ground are not quite as deep as they would have been with the lamp directly above. However, the shadow on the rear leg and foot is close to black. There is a pronounced highlight on the forehead too due to the very directional nature of the lamp. This would have been more pronounced, I suspect, if the paint on the elephant had been a lighter colour thus reflecting more light. However, the slight harshness gives good contrast to the ear that can be seen. The edges are lifted and the relief clearly defined. The natural light gives a blue-ish highlight on the ear and back of the elephant (W/B being set at ‘tungsten’) with the highlight on the forehead being much warmer (from the direct tungsten light).
The second photograph was shot from the same position with a diffuser attached.
The diffuser makes a very noticeable difference immediately. The highlight on the forehead has disappeared. The shadows on the ground are almost non-existent except right under the elephant’s body and trunk, where they are closest to the ground and gives the most shade. The highlights form the natural light have, as one would expect, remained the same.
On balance I prefer the first shot which has more life and dynamism to it with the highlights and shadow. Possibly I would go with a little less of a highlight on the forehead which draws the viewer’s eye in a little.