The Lighting Angle

Having set up a workable studio area with a single light I needed to think about changing the angle of attack. This would produce different light and shade effects on the subject (again the elephant).
I took a total of eleven photographs changing the lighting potion each time but nothing else. The lamp was again diffused and on a level with the model elephant. The lamp position is given in the caption under each image and I shall comment on each in turn. Again, the natural light acted as a fill from the left hand side.

Lighting by the side of the camera

Lighting by the side of the camera pointing level towards the face of the elephant

Very clearly the light is strongest on the face and front leg, then drops of noticeably towards the back end of the animal. There is shadow cast on the right hand side by the natural light. There is also very soft, minimal shadow being cast by the lighting behind the elephant’s front and visible rear feet.

Lighting on right hand side

Lighting level with subject on right hand side

It is worth noting the change in colour temperature here as the natural light floods the scene. The diffused light just warms up the far right of the elephants face and supplies highlight on it’s trunk and face. It also evens up the shadows cast leaving me with shadows on both sides of the model. Quite a flat shot other than the trunk being picked out by the tungsten light.

Lighting direct behind

Lighting directly behind and level with subject

The edges of the light box can be seen here with the subject right in front. The rear lighting accentuates the reflection of the elephant in the card I am using as the base. There is a pronounced highlight on the saddle of the model’s back. There is also edge highlight on the elephant’s ear which surprises me as I thought it was in the relief of the animal’s arched back. The distinction between cold and warm light also gives contrast to many areas of the image.

Lighting on left side

Lighting on left side and level with subject

This is probably my favourite of this mini-series of four as it gives the most texture as well as a clean outline whilst still being clearly diffused. This is because the tungsten lighting is now pointing from the same direction as the natural light. The nature of the mix of light temperatures gives a slightly muddy quality to the final image which is not entirely desirable.

Light from left, raised up and pointed down at 45 degrees

Light from left, raised up and pointed down at 45 degrees

The second part of the exercise had me raising the lighting up above the subject and then pointing it back down at 45 degrees towards it. This has the effect on this image of defining the feet, back and trunk more clearly. While the effect is quite subtle the movement of the light has changed the outcome of the shot.

Light from rear, raised up and pointed down at 45 degrees

Light from rear, raised up and pointed down at 45 degrees

The stand from the light can be seen in the background here. As with the previous back-lit image the back of the elephant takes much of the light. However, the front of the model is now much more clearly defined due to the camera not having to deal with the bright light directly in to then lens. Noticeable that the front end is very blue in contrast to the rear end and is also very flat (lacking in detail) due to the light from the lamp not hitting it in any way.

Light from right, raised up and pointed down at 45 degrees

Light from right, raised up and pointed down at 45 degrees

Again, the raised, angled lighting gives a certain amount more texture and detail to the elephant’s face than when the lighting was level. Other than the colour difference, this is quite a well balanced image regarding lighting levels.

Light by side of camera, raised up and pointed down at 45 degrees

Light by side of camera, raised up and pointed down at 45 degrees

With this angle change the lighting becomes very acceptable to the eye. Good definition and well light on the face which is the centre of attention. As with the first shot there is still pronounced drop off in lighting towards the rear of the model and the rear legs have very little definition as it disappears in to the shadow. There is also little detail on the the underside of the mouth area, the angle of the lighting and the brown colour all conspiring to dramatically darken the area.

Light directly from above

Light directly from above

This shot replicates the angle from the first exercise. Everything is very softly lit and relatively lacking in contrast. The back leg is still in shadow. Interestingly although the camera was still set to a ‘tungsten’ white balance the colour temperature is markedly different in both shots. The reason I would suggest is that both of these shots were made at different times of the day, critically affecting the colour temperature. It just goes to shoe how influential natural light can be.

Light from above and slightly in front

Light from above and slightly in front

This positioning gives a very similar results to that of the image when the lamp is next to the camera. It may just not be quite as harshly lit on the face. Again, quite a favourite of the series revealing the form and texture of the object.

Light from above and slightly behind

Light from above and slightly behind

The slight highlight on the head and back suggests the position of the lamp here. With the light taken off the face it becomes lifeless and blue. I do quite like the slight reflection that is picked out though.


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