Exercise: Contrast and Shadow Fill (TAoP)

Set up a simple still-life scene and shooting from the same level as the object(s), fix the light about 2 -3 feet to one side of the object and at its level so that it’s aimed at right-angles to the camera’s view.  Make the first image without a diffuser and then one with.  Follow this with a series of five exposures; take the white card and place it 3 feet from the object(s) on the opposite side from the light.  Make one image and then move the card twice as close to the object(s) and make another image.  Next cut a piece of baking foil to fit the white card; fix it dull side out and make an image, turn the foil around so that the shiny side is facing out and make an image, finally crumple the foil, smooth it out by hand, replace it around the card and make a final image.

This exercise did not produce the kind of results I was anticipating. I do, however think it is important to critique these results and look at why they did not turn out quite as i expected. I will re do this exercise at a later date, but I had a fairly clear idea of what should happen using the different lighting methods.


The first picture here uses a bare light positioned 2-3 feet away from the subject. This casts a strong harsh shadow and the back drop is relatively dark.


The second shot has a diffused light – resulting in softer shadows and the back drop has also been lightened.


The third shot has incorporated a white card positioned opposite the light, around 3 feet away from the subject. The only difference I can pick out is an extremely subtle change with the far right blue strip. The white card seems to have softened the slight glare in the above picture.


By moving the white card twice as close to the object, again doesn’t create a significant difference, apart from the light has bounced back onto the 2 circular elements at the top left corner of the object. There seems to be some refraction and glare coming off the lower circle especially.


The card now has foil covering it, with the dull side of the foil facing out. This seems to have softened the shadow cast by the object ever so slightly, and has reduced the glare coming off the 2 circular elements. Again this is only a very slight change.


Now this shot is interesting. The foil has now been turned round so that the shiny side is facing out, and the amount of shadows being cast had been reduced quite considerably. The light has been directly bounced back, meaning that the shadow is not as present. The back drop has also darkened slightly.


The final shot in this set uses crumpled foil smoothed out. The shadows are more prominent and the front of the camera is brighter.

As I had predicted, the image that has no diffuser or reflector  has the most contrast.

Perhaps if the light had been closer to the subject I may have got more obvious results. I also think perhaps i should have used a larger light resulting in stronger visual results.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s