Category Archives: Part 4

Exercise 4.5

The Task

Make a Google images search for ‘landscape’, ‘portrait’, or any ordinary subject such as ‘apple’ or ‘sunset’.  Add a screengrab of a representative page to your learning log and note down the similarities you find between the images.

Now take a number of your own photographs of the same subject, paying special attention to the ‘Creativity’ criteria at the end of Part One.  You might like to make the subject appear ‘incidental’; for instance by using juxtaposition, focus or framing.  Or you might begin with the observation of Ernst Haas, or the ‘camera vision’ of Bill Brandt.

Add a final image to your learning log, together with a selection of preparatory shots.  In your notes describe how your photograph differs from y our Google images source images of the same subject.

My Subject – The Firth of Forth Railway Bridge

I have long been fascinated by this bridge in much the same way as Ernst Haas experienced his apple.  I have photographed it many times and more often than not in the same way as the Google screengrab below:

Nearly all the photos show the whole bridge – many are taken in daylight with a couple at sunset and at night time.    They are also all in colour showing the brick red colour.

In the first few images rather than showing the whole bridge I showed some of the detail of this amazing piece of Victorian Engineering – the photos were taken from the car park at Sea World.   The next one shows some of the perspective of the bridge by including the houses of North Queensferry in the arch.   In fact this photo was taken through an archway in the road bridge.  The last one is also taken from North Queensferry and uses the wall as a leading line.  It also has the size of the bridge looking smaller in the distance.  The photos were taken on a grey bland day which did make it a little more difficult to get creative – the photos could have looked even more dramatic if there had been either stormy clouds or a sunrise/set shining through the structure.


Exercise 4.4

Exercise 4.4

The Task

Use a combination of quality, contrast, direction and colour to light an object in order to reveal its form.  For this exercise we recommend that you choose a natural or organic object such as an egg, stone, vegetable or plant, or the human face or body, rather than a man-made object.  Man-made or cultural artefacts can be fascinating to light but they also contain another layer of meaning requiring interpretation by the photographer; this exercise is just about controlling the light to reveal form.

You don’t need a studio light for this exercise; a desk lamp or even window light will be fine, although a camera flash that you can use remotely is a useful tool.  The only proviso is that you can control the way the light falls on the subject.

Take some time to set up the shot.  The background for your subject will be crucial.  For a smallish object, you can tape a large sheet of paper or card to the wall as an ‘infinity curve’ which you can mask off from the main light source by pieces of card.  You don’t need to use a curve if you can manage the ‘horizon line’ effectively – the line where the surface meets background.  Taking a high viewpoint will make the surface the background, in which case the surface you choose will be important to the shot.

Exposure times will be much longer than you’re used to (unless you’re using flash) and metering and focusing will be challenging.  The key to success is to keep it simple.  The important thing is to aim for four or five unique shots – either change the viewpoint, the subject or the lighting for each shot.

Add the sequence to your learning log.  Draw a simple lighting diagram for each of your shots, showing the position of the camera, the subject and the direction of the key light and fill.  Don’t labour the diagrams; quick sketches with notes will be just as useful as perfect graphics.  In your notes try to describe any similarities between the qualities of controlled lighting and the daylight and ambient artificial light shots from Exercises 4.2 and 4.3.

For this exercise I went to a workshop where the tutor was Andrew Barton who is a local photographer on the island.  He gave some information at the beginning of the workshop on the sorts of lighting we would be using – continuous, side lighting and lights triggered by wireless flashes attached to our cameras.  He warned us that we may need to manually focus when doing close up work.

When using flash you need to know the sync speed for the flash.  He said you can set to any speed up to 250.  At 250 this takes out any ambient light.  He also spoke to us about colour temperatures.

He mentioned metering – centred, partial, spot and evaluative.

He said that the camera sees the light on the subject; not that which is reflected back unless the light is bounced off the ceiling.  A diffuser scatters light everywhere – he recommended that you only use one if the ceiling is low.

He said you need to visualise the picture and visualise the light.

It was then time to get into the photography and experiment for ourselves.

  1. Continuous lighting.

This was done with a blue backdrop.

Thus for this first picture the fruit was lit from the side at an approximately 45 degree angle and also from above.  A blue backdrop was used.   I also used a flash on the camera set at 1/64.  As mentioned in the task it was hard to get the focus completely right.

2.  Side lit flowers with left light triggered by flash:

For the next two photos we used flowers that had been frozen in ice – this gave a nice effect as the ice started to melt.

I also found I couldn’t use Live View to compose and take the images as the settings were deceptive and if you took a photo using Live View it came out too dark.  I used a depth of field of f22 and a shutter speed of 200 for these.  ISO was set to 100.

These photos show the difference made by where you place the camera.

Thus when taking the photo front on there is very little visible shadow but in the second photo where I moved round to the side of the table there was a marked shadow.

In comparison with the other photos in the previous exercises you had more control over the lighting in the studio and where you wanted it to fall and if you wanted shadows or not.  In most cases the items ended up evenly lit although the strawberries and nuts had some highlights on them.

Exercise 4.3

The Task

Capture ‘the beauty of artificial light’ in a short sequence of shots (‘beauty’ is, of course, a subjective term).  The correct white balance setting will be important; this can get tricky – but interesting – if there are mixed light sources of different colour temperatures in the same shot.  You can shoot indoors or outside but the light should be ambient rather than camera flash.  Add the sequence to your learning log.  In your notes try to describe the difference in the quality of light from the daylight shots in Exercise 4.2.

Please click on each image to get the full size photo.

I have always loved the city at night.  I jumped ahead of myself to take this series of images as I was in London at Christmas time.  The images were taken between twilight and night time – the photo of the Shard does run into the danger of being isolated in the frame.  I used the camera on a tripod and used long exposures.  This meant in some images I got light trails from passing cars to add to the interest.  This also turned the carousel into a circle of light.  In comparison with the images in Exercise 4.2 there is not a lot of detail in the actual sky but in most of the images there is enough detail in the buildings so this does not detract from the photo.

I also on one of my visits to Scotland went into Edinburgh and took photos of the Christmas lights and fairground rides with the thought that this could be expanded for Assignment 4.

Exercise 4.2 – Tower of Refuge

The Task

In manual mode take a sequence of shots of a subject of your choosing at different times on a single day.  It doesn’t matter if the day is overcast or clear but you need a good spread of times from early morning to dusk.  You might decide to fix your viewpoint or you might prefer to ‘work into’ your subject, but the important thing is to observe the light, not just photograph it.  Add the sequence to your learning log together with a timestamp from the time/date info in the metadata.  In your own words, briefly describe the quality of light in each image.

For this exercise I chose to photograph a small building known as the Tower of Refuge located in Douglas Bay, Isle of Man.  For those who are interested the following outlines the history of how this little castle came into being:

“Sir William Hillary moved to the Isle of Man in 1808 and began to know the dangerous waters of the Irish Sea which surrounded Douglas Bay. In around 1824 he conceived the concept of a life boat service manned by a trained crew. The idea was new, but soon prompted the creation of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

It was not till Hillary took part in a rescue for a Steam Packet vessel and was washed overboard that he realised the coast was too far to swim to, yet a place was needed for sailors to wait for rescue. Soon after an idea Sir William Hillary had became a reality. Designed by John Welch the Tower of Refuge, as it came to be called, was completed in 1832. Situated upon Conister Rock in Douglas Bay a granite haven in the form of a small castle took its place as a lifesaver for sailors. Built ata cost of �254 of which almost half was paid by Hillary himself and the other by subscription. The tower was kept well stocked with fresh water and bread, ready to offered shelter from the weather and sea.

In 2008 the tower underwent extensive maintance work. The DOT had already installed a new landing platform early in the year and by summer the rest of the tower was scaffolded and being worked out. The exterior part of the tower was repointed and lighting installed. The tower is about 12.5 meters heigh and 52 meters around its circumference.” on 26 March 2017

Having checked the time for sunrise – 6:10a.m. on 24 March 2017 I set my alarm for some what earlier than usual and managed to get down on ‘The Prom’ for my first photo at 6:03 just prior to the sun coming up.

 In the left hand photo the light from the rising is sun is mainly to the right and is a slight pink colour with bland blue sky above.  The Tower is a silhoutte.  In the right hand photo the Sun is just above the horizon and the sky is more an orange colour.  I had a slightly different focal length for this shot so there is some interestng cloud to the left included.


For this photo I added a filter which made the light seem much more pink and because of the longer exposure the sea and other parts of the sky bluer and more tranquil.  the light again is mostly to the right hand side of the frame.


I had hoped to do the next series of shots around midday but unfortunately due to events at work was unable to get down until after two and it had to be a quick photo on the way back to work.  As can be seen the sky is much more bland with even lighting across the image.  The detail on the tower is clearer.  I had a slightly different view point for this one than the rest of the photos in order to use the lead in line (this was covered by water in all the other images).

My next attempts were around sunset time:

The one on the left is without any filters and again appears quite bland with more even lighting across the photo.  The sun at this time of the day is behind where I was standing as this is east and the sun obviously sets in the west.  Adding the filter gave some pink in the sky and the more tranquil water with the longer exposure.

The last photo was taken at twilight:


As can be seen the Tower is lit up at night (in fact it goes through a cycle of changing colours).  This meant a long exposure was needed to ensure detail was kept.  The light has reflected pleasingly in the water.  The sky is blue as at twilight and the sea has come out a deep blue.

It can be seen over the course of a day how the light changes – this was a lovely sunny day on the island but the light was definitely more interesting first thing in the morning and again at dusk/twilight.

To get full sized images please click on each image in the mosaic below:

Exercise 4.1

Exercise 4.1

The Task

  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 that the tone fills the viewfinder frame (it’s not necessary to focus).  Add the shots to your learning log with quick sketches of the histograms and your observations.

I shot all three shots using card –black, grey and white.







As can be seen all three photos are the same with very similar graphs.  The graphs are all centred around 0-1.00

  1. Set your camera to manual mode.  Now you can see your light meter!  The mid tone exposure is indicated by the ‘0’ on the meter scale with darker or lighter exposures as – or + on either side.  Repeat the exercise in manual mode, this time adjusting either your aperture or shutter to place the dark, mid and light tones at their correct positions on the histogram.  The light and dark tones shouldn’t fall off either the left or right side of the graph.  Add the shots to your learning log with sketches of their histograms and your observations.



This shot shows that if you leave the shutter speed towards the darker end of the scale the histogram will be in the blacks accordingly.



The grey is closer to the mid tones – although set on my camera at 0 is sets slightly to the left.




The white goes to the right on the histogram.