Lighting is a key factor in the creation of any photograph and successful photographers all need to be aware of the way they can use lighting to their advantage. Lighting is an incredibly powerful tool for a photographer so instead of using too little light and leaving the image underexposed, or doing the opposite and overexposing it, a photographer needs to use it as a paintbrush with which he/she will paint the image. It is important to be aware of the things you want to highlight and the things you want to leave in the shadows.
This balance of shadows and highlights helps create a 3 Dimensional look and gives structure and shows texture to an image, especially a live model. Without this the subject of the photograph may fall flat and lifeless.
Rembrandt or 3 quarter lighting is a technique used in studio portrait photography. It was named after the Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn who painted his portraits in a similarly lit way. Rembrandt is a lighting technique which makes photographs look both compelling and complex even though it is very easy to achieve this effect. The way to make sure you’re incorporating the Rembrandt technique correctly is to watch out for the upside down triangle of light on the model’s cheek. This triangle should be the only light on this side of the model’s face. In image number 3 of my photographs you can clearly see the triangle under my model’s left eye is the only light coming up on that side of her face, indicating the Rembrandt lighting technique has been performed successfully. The equipment necessary to successfully incorporate the Rembrandt technique are a camera, one light source and a reflector. The light source and the reflector are supposed to be placed on each side of the camera directed towards the model. The equipment I used for these photos also included a white backdrop and a tripod. The ISO was set at 400, Aperture f/16.0 and shutter speed was 1/250.
Side lighting is a technique of lighting the model or subject of the photograph in a way which highlights only one side of them, while leaving the other in darkness. This creates for an engaging and mysterious finished image which gives depth to the personality of the model or characteristics of the subject. Side lighting can be played around with until the photographer achieves the desired appearance of shadows. This means adjusting the angles and intensity of the light source can make a significant change in the look of the photograph.
The way I achieved this dramatic look of side lighting is by simply placing the light source on one side of the camera and directed it at the model, varying the angles until I achieved the desire effect. I’m especially happy with photo number 2 as it dramatically highlights the texture and colour of my model’s hair. It also leaves a nice line of light on the cheekbone of the side of her face which we exposed to the light source. Meanwhile the other side is left in complete darkness, making for an ominous feeling. I also find the intricate shadows cast on the backdrop behind the model create for an interesting story of the eternal inner struggle of light and darkness.
Beauty LightBeauty lighting is the trademark of beauty photography and it is most predominantly used in portrait photography. What photographers usually try to achieve with beauty lighting is a ‘shadowless’ look, but sometimes there are exceptions to this notion. The technique behind beauty lighting is simply placing the light source directly in front of the model. Reflectors can be used but they are not absolutely necessary for the images to come out well. The equipment used for my four examples of beauty lighting were a DSLR camera, a light source, a plain white backdrop and a tripod. In the first two photos I had successfully created the ‘shadowless’ look that I mentioned above as being the standard of portraiture. But in the third photograph which is a medium close up of my model I decided to play around with the shadows minimally, creating a shadow above her. In my vision this makes her look a bit scary because it makes her appear to stand taller and more dangerous with the help of the shadows above her, which elongate her. This was accomplished by directing the light source at the model from a slightly lower angle. A shadow which is not nearly as dramatic, but nevertheless still a shadow can be seen in the fourth photograph, as the light source had been angled slightly off centre.
This image set is based on a series of images I like a lot. It is inspired by the work of American photographer Neil Krug, a native of Lawrence, Kansas who’s worked with big names within the music industry, shooting everything from album artworks to booklet images and magazine spreads. I like Neil’s photography because it is a dreamy blend of colours and calming visuals. His most notable feature is the appearance of flowers all throughout his portfolio, even when shooting live models Neil will most likely include floral accents of some sort. The first two images I was inspired by are promotional photographs Krug shot for Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence album. The first image presents the model centred in the middle of the composition with her head turned slightly to the right of the frame. The second photograph I recreated belongs to the same photoshoot as the first, and it presents a close up of the model as she visibly grasps the camera in her own hands as if she’s taking a selfie. I recreated this in image number 4, in which I kept a similar composition and physical position to the original.
The next pair of images (5 and 6) are part of a different shoot Neil Krug has done, they are square shaped crops of two photographs which have a very shallow depth of field, they have a blended magnifying colour to them and are the result of strange light patterns and lens flares. I recreated these photographs at nighttime, using an iPhone 7 to take them. I had used the built in flash of my phone to achieve to replicate this strange throw of lighting which Neil is so famous for. Photograph number 8 has successfully mirrored Neil’s work with its flat, shallow depth of field look, although photograph number 7 has a larger than intended depth of field. I still chose to include it in this blog post as I think it has other characteristics relating it to Neil’s work such as the blurriness in the front layers of flowers and the matt finish of the background night sky blending in with the sharpness of the flowers. The light of the moon is seen peaking through the crown of the cherry tree I depicted and it clashes with the flash of my camera.
All of these photos were taken in one session. The location was exterior, a street in Kensington at nighttime, with street lamps being the only pre-existing illumination. The technique of recreating these images included mostly just paying attention to each individual composition and using that as a guiding step of what had to be done as the next step.
Photograms are images captured on light-sensitive paper, without a camera, by placing objects directly onto the surface of the material. To create these images we used photographic paper in the college dark room, which we then exposed to light. This action is followed by dipping the paper into certain chemicals and waiting for the negatives to develop. The final step of creating a photogram is washing it in cold water and allowing it to dry. I used a variety of transparent and opaque items in order to create an interesting contrast in shapes and monochrome colours. These combinations consisted of the clear PVC choker placed next to a dense leather collar, a semi-clear perfume bottle next to a set of hard metal keys, and finally the new five pound note which was almost perfectly created for this task, as it’s combination of clear and coloured materials created a set of lovely intricate shapes when exposed to the light. I really love the way the paper was able to pick up the letters ‘Versace Crystal Noir’ through the transparency of the bottle. My favourite out of these negative shadow images is probably the final one, as I really like it’s composition.
Negative space is the use of the area which surrounds the main subject of a photograph to emphasise the subject. The subject is also referred to as positive space because it directly clashes with the negative space. Negative space provides a balance from the clutter of the subject and is made to be easy and pleasant to look at. This creates for a nice contrasting composition.
My pieces were created by placing my positive space objects onto a variety of spacious black and white backgrounds. The exceptions to this are the photographs taken of positive subjects already attached to or pre-placed in front of the negative place like the ones of the handrail, the photograph of the framed picture, construction street sign and the crane. In these photographs which were taken outside with exterior lighting the providers of negative space vary from a cloudy sky to a textured brick wall. All of the photos except for the first one were also taken with a DSLR camera, while the first one was taken with my phone. Photos number 1,2,3 and 4 were shot in an interior space using no extra lighting.
I really like how they turned out as they allow the eye to focus on the subject while also allowing the mind additional space to wander. My favourite out of these is photo number 4, where I placed three heart shaped candles onto a white counter and focused the camera on the positive space. I like it because the colours are the most vibrant and the composition is the nicest out of all my negative space pieces.
Painting with Light is the process of creating images and shapes using a moving light source. The way I did this in the photography studio is by turning off all the lights and closing any blinds in the room to avoid natural lighting getting into the studio. I then had my model stand in front of the DSLR camera which I positioned onto a tripod. As a light source we used a cellphone flashlight, although any other concentrated and mobile source of light would serve the function. The way this photographic technique works is that the moving exposures made by the hand held light translate onto the frame as one single image. The light can also be shone onto a subject in a way to paint wings, horns, ears and other additional items onto the subject or live model. The technique can also be used to spell words or phrases out. The camera has to be able to go into long exposures. In the studio, we used the manual settings mode and an ISO of 100 and changed the aperture depending on the depth of field we required for a specific photograph. The technical process of the painting with light method is very similar to Blurred Movement photography, which I also covered in this blog.
The second half of my painting with light was taken in my room where you can see I didn’t have total darkness as a pre-condition. To achieve these I had set my shutter speed at bulb and used an ISO of 200 with an f16 aperture
Frame within a frame
Frame within a frame composition is the use of additional framing within the original frames on a photograph. This can be achieved by positioning windows, doors, gates, pathways etc. inside a photograph. As long as they end with a distinct shape which can act as an internal frame, this composition is called frame within a frame and is especially popular in architectural photography. My examples of frame within a frame composition photography include a photograph taken of a rectangle shaped gate with stone walls on the sides and a garland of greenery lining it from above, a vertical rectangle framed picture hanging on a white wall, and a square shaped end of a tunnel. The photographs were taken using a DSLR camera and had used no additional lighting. My favourite out of these is the final one because I think it has the best, clearest composition out of the three. I also like the theme of ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ which the image quite literally connotes.
A meaningful method of strengthening the composition of a photograph is to let it be defined by leading lines. Leading lines serve as pathways which lead the direction the views eyes will take. They can appear intentionally or unintentionally, but the thing they have in common is creating an additional visual layer to the narrative of the image. When used intentionally the photographer positions them in a place they want to highlight and accentuate. All of my examples have been taken using a DSLR camera with the exception of the final two which were taken on an iPhone 7. Something that the compositions of most of my images have in common is that they ‘lead’ towards an entrance or an exit to somewhere, like images number 2 and 3 which both ‘lead’ out of an underground tunnel. Or images 6 and 7 which lead towards a fire exit door. There is definitely some kind of escapism them lurking behind these images.
Rule of 3rds
The principle of the rule of thirds lies in the ability to imagine your image breaking down into horizontal and vertical thirds, creating an imaginary grid which splits the frame’s composition into 9 equal part. Like most other composition techniques, this will be done in a camera’s viewfinder. Some cameras will have a built in grid to help beginner photographers navigate framing and composition in the rule of thirds before they get enough confidence in the craft. The theory proposes that objects of most interest should be placed on, or along these imaginary lines in order to generate the best response from people who will view the finished photograph. The easiest way to successfully incorporate the rule of thirds into a photograph is to focus on one subject by placing it on one end of either of the three vertical sides, like I did in images number two, three, four and five.
Filling The Frame
The oldest trick in the photography book is to move in on the subject if the picture is looking bleak, this way you avoid unneccesary distractions and give the viewer directly what they want to see simply by filling the frame. This can be done by either physically moving onto the subject or by zooming into it, either way filling the frame is a sure way to involve and engage the viewers with an attention grabbing close up of an object.
Sometimes an image doesn’t have the desired impact on the viewer due to its small appearence, or the subject simply gets lost in the surrounding clutter of the frame. An image can be cropped in order to eliminate this background noise. Cropping is basically the same thing as the Filling the Frame composition technique, although filling the frame is performed in the viewfinder before taking a photograph, while cropping is a part of editing the already captured image. Above is an example of an image I took which I then cropped, you can see that by cropping an image its focus and meaning completely changes. The second pair of before and after cropping images shows that instead of the street and its colourful buildings, the main focus of the image is now the car, this is achieved by cropping.
Symmetry has a huge significance in photography composition, just as it does in composition of any other art from; film framing, clothing design, painting, graphic design etc. For an image to be symmetrical it is meant that it has a clear balance and resemblance between the shapes and sizes of the objects on each side of the frame from the centre. For example in my example of symmetrical image composition, image number 6, which was taken on a DSLR camera has a symmetry in the position of the Tarot cards, the cards themselves are not identical but the shape, size and positions of the cards balance each other out perfectly. The image that has the most perfect symmetry out of my examples here is image number 5. I have taken this photograph as an extreme close up of a package of false eyelashes on a DSLR camera. With the exception of the small letter writing on the package, if this photograph was folded across the centre its two sides would be completely identical.
Patterns and Repetition
By including certain patterns or a repetition of a specific pattern or shape the photographer achieves an overall stronger and more compelling image. Repetition is a common concept in art and in turn in photography as well. By repeating a pattern or shape the image communicates the idea or message that that shape connotes. Repeating a shape or object will eventually create a new pattern in itself. The use of repetition and patterns in photography can also serve as an order to an otherwise chaotic scenery. Most people respond positively to repetitions and organised patterns as they have a pleasing and calming effect. Patterns keep a rhythm interest and manage to hold the viewer’s attention for a long time. My images include of a mixture of interior and exterior shot photographs; numbers 2 and 4 were captured looking at a brick facade of a Victorian building in Earls Court. While photo number 2 is a homogenous order of the brick’s painted white texture, photo number 4 sees a clash of the white wall and an orange brick coloured part of the building with a repetitive and symmetrical placement of windows. For this I had used a DSLR camera and had natural lighting. Images 2 and 4 were captured with the use of natural lighting as well, but they show a repetition of shapes and patterns through zooming in and focusing on beauty products; an eyeshadow palette and a row of pairs of false eyelashes. This was also achieved with a DSLR camera. Photograph number 1 sees another clash of patterns, that of a seat’s textile and the wall’s wallpaper inside of a London Underground Bakerloo line train. This image was taken with an iPhone 7.