Monthly Archives: September 2014

Exercise: Tungsten and fluorescent lighting (TAoP)

This exercise requires you to use your judgement of light colours as well as make the images required. 

Part 1

When the light levels indoors and out are approximately equal compose an image where the interior lit by tungsten lamps and the exterior at dusk are both visible.  Make three images with the white balance set first to Auto, then to Tungsten and finally daylight.  Compare the results , what differences are there?



White balance set to auto



White balance set to tungsten




White balance set to daylight

The main thing I noticed is that when the white balance is changed to tungsten it adds a fairly obvious blue tint to it, and when daylight is selected it become warmer, with a red tint.

Part 2

Find two different rooms lit by fluorescent lighting, if possible make one of the interiors lit with CFL lamps.  Make two images in each room depicting the same scene, set the white balance first to Fluorescent and then Auto.  Compare the results, what are the differences?

I managed to find some fluorescent lights that use small CFL lamps (compact fluorescent lights) these do not appear so ‘white’ to the eye, and have a more domestic like feel.



This shot was taken with the WB set to auto. As you can see the lights appear white as do the walls.



The second shot was taken with the WB set to fluorescent – my nikon has several different settings, so i chose ‘cool white’ fluorescent as the light appears white to the eye. As you can see there isn’t a great difference, only the image now appears less blue/green.  The walls appear whiter.




If applicable we are to choose a third setting, from the range of fluorescent settings. I chose the mercury vapour setting. Mercury vapour lights are intense and slightly blueish white.  As you can see the camera has used a red filter to try to counter balance the blue that would be produced by mercury vapour lamps – as a result of this, we can assume that the hall lights are NOT mercury vapour lighting as the image is far too red!



For this shot the WB has been set to auto. The light appears very white.





When the WB is change to ‘cool white’ fluorescent the image appears very blue, white the light is bright white.





When set to mercury vapour setting it creates a warmer image than both of the above. There is a slight reddish hue, creating the warmth, but not too much as in the first example. This could mean that the lights used in this room are in fact mercury vapour, or multi vapour lighting. (Multi vapour lights photograph white.)

All in all i found this exercise very interesting. I’ve been setting my camera to auto WB mainly because i didn’t really know where or why to change settings. It is only after doing this exercise that i have realised the importance of assessing my surroundings and changing settings accordingly.


Bruce Davidson’s Subway

Having researched Vivian Maier (see previous post) I stumbled across a photographer named Bruce Davidson. He has an iconic set of shots of the New York subway taken around the 1970s. Again, I really like the raw and personal feeling the shots have,  some directly engaging the viewer as the subject is making eye contact. I love the street art that adds another level to the shots. Also Bruce used both colour & black and white photography.

Again I could spend hours uploading hundreds, but here are a few of my favourites.

BD 1

BD 5

BD 4

BD 2

Vivian Maier

Having recently joined a photography company in the heart of London I am constantly seeing different styles of photography & different use of techniques.

I read an article about a lady called Vivian Maier. She was a nanny in Chicago and captured Chicago/LA street life during the 50s and 60s. Sadly these photographs were only discovered after she had died, It created some what of a media frenzy and a book has been published.

I find her pictures so intriguing and very natural. They capture the era so well. She was also a fan of the odd selfie! (Something i despise!) I could upload thousands more, her images interest me so much. I really like how she manages to capture emotion so well in her subjects. Incredible photos.


VM 2


VM 5

VM 3

VM 4



Exercise: Light through the day (TAoP)

Find a landscape scene with a fairly definite subject that will catch the sunlight even when the sun is close to the horizon.  It needs to offer a good, clear view that is lit throughout the day, perhaps containing an isolated building.  Photograph the scene from dawn to dusk, taking at least one per hour, and more at the end of the day when the light is changing faster.  From the processed results, choose one photograph that you consider the best and is this the same one you would have chosen at the time?  If not why not?   

I was not totally confident in this exercise as I picked to do this on a day that had a mixed forecast…sods law really!

However, after looking at the results i was intrigued by the on/off presence of cloud. It is known that cloud diffuses light, and while the course notes ask for a sunny day, i felt that my shots demonstrate both. There are several strong sun pictures.

I paid particular attention to the shadows cast during the day as this helps to a) identify the position of the sun (the sun was not obviously visible in the sky from my location) and b) to demonstrate the different strength of sun, i.e whether it was peaking through cloud or not.



At 8.30 the sun is evident, as there are shadows to the bottom right corner – they are shadows of objects (trees) that are not actually in shot, hinting to the suns position. There was a degree of haze and the sky appears white. As sunrise is at least an hour earlier the sun has not yet reached its optimum height. The white building opposite is well lit, while the balconies to the left are in shadow. This would mean that the sun is roughly behind the camera, lighting the white building, and the building to the left is in the shade of the building I took the shots from.




At 9.30 the cloud has crept in, resulting in the whole shot being in shade. There is no shadow anywhere. The haze appears to have lessened and the sky has a slight blue hue to it.



At 10.30 there seems to be both sunlight and shade. the white building is lit but the foreground is shaded. This is perhaps due to the sun’s movement, as it is passing behind the building i’m shooting from, resulting in sunlight creeping over the top and hitting the buildings in the distance.




At 11.30 the sunlight is evident in almost all of this shot, and the balcony to the left is beginning to be in direct sunlight. There is a degree of shadow on the pavement, cast from the tree just off centre. Taking into account the shadow of the tree, the shadows on the paving and the fact that the balcony is now coming out of the shade, we can estimate that the sun is now behind the camera and to the left. It is slightly misleading as there are several buildings surrounding this shot which result in some shadows not being instantly recognisable as they are out of shot.


At 12.30pm the sun should now be at it’s highest, but there is cloud present – It’s not perhaps as strong as in earlier shots as there is a slight shadow being cast from the tree.



At 1.30pm There is heavy cloud (I almost packed up as it looked like it was about to rain) the whole shot is in darkness. Obviously this can be corrected by altering the exposure in post processing.




At 2.30 we have light! The white building is in direct light, and the suns position has changed – it is now moving behind the building on my left – resulting in the balcony that was earlier creeping out of the shade plummeting back in. There’s much more shadow on the paving indicating the direction of sunlight.



At 3.30 there’s cloud again – not as much as earlier, but it is instantly obvious by looking at the white building which now appears rather dark/dull.




Again at 4.30 there is a blanket of cloud, slightly less than before as the white building appears lighter, and so does the pavement. There is a hint of shadow coming from the small white wall around the tree.



At 5.30 there is quite a bit of cloud, and there are no shadows apart from a hint of one coming from the wall by the tree. The white building again looks dull. The balconies to the left are now brighter than they have been, indicating that the sun is positioned to their left.



At 6.30 the image takes on a warmer feel and a slightly orange hue has appeared at the top right of the image, indicating that the sun is just out of shot. This also indicates that the sun is starting to set, as evening sunlight is much warmer. The white building is now fairly bright and well lit.



At 7.11pm the sky appears yellow and the image is dark. No shadows are present and the building is now starting to look extremely dark. The sun’s position is still just out of shot, just behind the balcony at the top left.


At 7.25pm the sky still appears yellow, and the foreground is all in shade and starting to get darker. It is now quite difficult to distinguish objects in the walled area.



At 7.33pm the sun is behind the dark brown building that appears in-between the two balconies on the left. Again the image is getting increasingly more dark, and this could be altered in post processing software.




Not a vast difference at 7.40, buildings are now using electrical lighting (the Audi garage in the far distance) and the street lighting has come on. At this stage the sky still appears fairly bright and blue.



The final shot at 7.50pm gives off the feeling that the sun is low in the sky, and near to setting. The majority of the foreground is now hard to distinguish and far too dark. There is a small bit of lighting but again this is artificial.

Overall I’m fairly pleased with these results as they do demonstrate the objective. I found it interesting trying to track the sun and predict it’s positioning. This is definitely something that i will be considering with all my photography from now on. Sometimes i think i am too hasty in taking a shot, and don’t really assess my available light. I would love to expand this further and start shooting at sunrise.

As for which photograph is my favourite, i would have to choose the shot at 2.30pm as this demonstrates gorgeous blue sky, bright sunlight and shadows. However, there are areas that are too dark and i would alter these in photoshop. A close second is the picture taken at 6.30pm as i really like the orange hue that has appeared, and the sky looks interesting.

Exercise: Judging colour temperature 1 (TAoP)

Make three images of something that does not have a particularly strong colour, a face maybe, one in full sunlight at the middle of the day, one in shade at the middle of the day and finally one in sunlight when the sun is close to the horizon.  Ensure that the camera white balance is set to daylight for all three images.

Having paid much attention to the the type/strength of light available during different parts of the day on my daily commute I am sure that objects photographed in the evening sun will be more pleasing to the eye, and appear warmer. As the sun sets the ‘whiteness’ decreases.

Object in direct sunlight:

Direct sun


As predicted, the white levels are all high, and the shadow of the teddy is prominent.

Shade during midday sun:


This image has a much warmer feel – the orange/red fur appears darker and warmer, and the cream is less washed out.

Direct low sun:

Low sun

The lower sun results in an even warmer feel than the shade image. There is a faint red hue to the image and both the red and cream fur appears more saturated. Even the wall in the background and the table appear warmer due to the low sun.

I am interested in doing this exercise with an object with a strong colour, perhaps a red object to see what different results I get.

As expected, as the sun is at its highest in the sky during midday – images are more washed out and have greater whiteness. The lower the sun gets in the sky, the warmer an image appears, and a reddish glow often becomes apparent.

Exercise: Higher & lower sensitivity (TAoP)

For this exercise I am required to take similar shots of, for example, a busy street/market on an overcast day, and vary the ISO – starting at a normal level i.e 100 and increasing it to a high sensitivity for example 400, or 800. Then enlarge these shots using digital software and compare the same area in each photo and log the results.

Going by what I have already learnt about ISO levels, I am expecting the ‘noise’ or grainy-ness to increase as the ISO increases.

I used a fixed aperture of 5.6 for this exercise and used the full range of ISO settings 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200. (My results may be more subtle due to this, but i wanted to use all settings available.)

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200


As you can see from the images above – there is no significant difference throughout any of the ISO settings.

It is only when you zoom in on a specific detail that the difference in ISO becomes apparent.

ISO 100 zoom

ISO 200 zoom


ISO 400 zoom

ISO 800 zoom

ISO 1600 zoom

ISO 3200 zoom

I’ve zoomed in on an object that is in the far distance – it is the ariel on the side of the beige building. You can clearly see the gradual progression of ‘noise’ that appears as the ISO is increased. In the last picture shot using an ISO 0f 3200 the grainy-ness is clearly evident, especially in the leaves of the tree.

I would like to experiment more with ISO settings especially in relation to shutter speed. During this exercise, because I was using aperture priority mode my Nikon adjusted the shutter speed in accordance to the ISO. I will try this exercise while in manual mode so I can have complete control over aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

My results will be on the blog soon.