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.


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