Monthly Archives: October 2014

Exercise: The Lighting Angle (TAoP)

Using the photographic lamp and the camera set horizontally, make images with the lamp set at different points around the subject, including directly overhead and from a downward pointing, 45 degree angle.  Which one reveals the three-dimensional effect best and choose which one you like best and discuss why. 

For this exercise I used a photographic lamp, which was diffused through the sides and back of my photographic cube. Recently i’ve been extremely aware of, and studied the use of lighting on an everyday basis – adverts on tv, promotional posters on the underground etc and I feel i have learnt enough to almost predict what angle of light suits what subject.

Here are my results: (All photos taken with the same aperture and ISO)

bottom right


Here the light is angled from the bottom right corner, highlighting the reeds and bottle in a soft subtle light. The shadow is fairly prominent – hinting at the angle of the light.


Here the light is angled from the bottom left (i did not ant to use the exact same symmetrical angle as on the right, so this one is slightly further forward) Again this is evident by the angle of shadow. The reeds are fairly under exposed and dark. The backdrop is also fairly dark.

left side

Here the light is coming directly from the left, and now has more light on the reeds and the side of the bottle. The image produces a much warmer feel and it is much more pleasing to the eye. The shadow is relatively soft also.


With the light source at the very top left corner we see a strong shadow (indicating the direction of light) but are left with a very dark object. The reeds are too dark, and so is the bottle.


With a direct backlight we see a very dramatic effect of a silhouette. Not ideal for photographing an object of this kind perhaps, but extremely effective for demonstrating shape and form.


With the light positioned in the top right corner we see a slight glow of the bottle and the reeds are slightly lighter, but other than that and the faint shadow it is still too dark.

right side

With the light directly from the right we get a softer feel, the reeds are lit well and softly, and theres a gentle shadow. The bottle is also lit well.


With the light positioning overhead we see a whole new kind of shadow being cast and the whole bottle is lit. The inner reeds catch the most light, resulting in an interesting contrast between the light and dark reeds. I had anticipated that this would not have necessarily made a very eye catching picture, but looking back at it i think it is extremely striking.

Personally, my favourite images are the overhead light (very dramatic) and the image lit from the left, as this image has both light and shadow at the same time. Although, after looking over them again the image lit from the bottom right is very soft, and would probably be viewed as the best image.

This exercise has been extremely beneficial in teaching to predict how light will effect a scene, and also in knowing which part of an object you want lit, and which you want in shadow. I have tried to avoid direct lighting as i have never really been a huge fan of this as i feel it is less creative. Using different lighting angles can give you so much control over the outcome of an image. You can add a soft, aesthetic appearance, or a striking dramatic effect.


Exercise: Softening the Light (TAoP)

Set up a still life arrangement, with any object or group of objects.  Fix a naked light more-ore-less overhead, pointing down.  Make two images, one using the naked light and one with light passing through a diffuser.  Look at the results and write down exactly what you see as the differences.  Determine if the diffuser made an improvement to the image as opposed to the naked light image.

Having recently bought a flash gun and a soft box diffuser i was well aware of what this exercise was trying to demonstrate.

A strong naked light often casts heavy shadows and objects can reflect the light. Objects can also appear too bright, and bleached out. By diffusing the light you should end up with softer shadows and less glare.

For this exercise I did not use by flash gun, and used a normal house lamp.

Still life shot using naked light (tungsten)


Firstly, please excuse the stain on my canvas! As you can see the shadow of the chopping board is very evident and heavy. There is also some light reflection bouncing off the tomatoes.

Shot diffused using white canvas:


As expected – when the light is diffused the shadow becomes much softer and gradual. The glare of light coming off the tomato is much more subtle and reduced.

In conclusion, I find that a diffused light produces a much more pleasing photo as shadows are softer and reflections are less obvious.