Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Part 4 Light–Project:The Time of Day – Weather 3

Exercise: Cloudy weather and rain
Part 3: Rain
This part of the exercise was to produce photographs of rain, or the effects of rain, in dull light. Here are my first efforts:
7527: 1/350s f5.6 ISO 3200 200mm
7540: 1/250s f5.6 ISO 3200 200mm
7580: 1/60s f5.6 ISO 200 200mm
The first two were taken outside in heavy rain but the third was taken from inside through the window. I have cropped down a detail from a larger frame. The silver and red is from cars parked outside and the green from the garden. I used the long end of my zoom lens. I just wonder what effects I could have recorded with a macro lens. A future project perhaps.
I was hoping to produce a wider variety of images for this section and if the opportunity arises, I may well add more to this page.
Conclusion: From this exercise I have learned that there are more opportunities to make photographs outdoors in the rain that I had realised. I am going off to Cornwall on holiday this week. I hope I don’t have too many chances to experiment!
Supplementary Images:  These were made on a wet day in Cornwall as an attempt to see what could be achieved  in such circumstances. I have enhanced the two landscapes to introduce a little colour and contrast. The spider’s web is more or less as shot. It is a shame that in order to include the spider I had to photograph against  the light which has diminished the effect of the light on the raindrops. I have included another image without a spider to show the difference.
7856: 1/200s f5.3 120mm ISO800
7854: 1/80s f5.3 105mm ISO800
7858: 1/800s f7.1 130mm ISO800
7861: 1/640s f5.6 200mm ISO800

Part 4 Light–Project:The Time of Day – Weather 2

Exercise: Cloudy weather and rain
Part 2: Outdoors on an overcast day
The object here was to make three photographs in shadowless, even light including a bright colour and distinct texture to see the effect of even light on these aspects of an image. The camera’s white balance setting was left on direct sunlight.
1. Bright Colour. I chose to photograph my neighbour’s fuchsia bush and spotted this wasp.
7478: 1/90s f16 200mm ISO800
In bright sunlight, such a photograph would have been very difficult to make with the wasp probably lost in shadow. Even at f16, the background is sufficiently blurred to bring the flowers forward and make them  the prime subject of the picture. Another noticeable effect is the saturation of the colours with no strong light to burn them out. 

2. Texture, pine bark.
7471: 1/45s f13 200mm ISO3200
I doubt if bright sunlight would have retained the subtle colours of this bark, close up on a Scot’s pine trunk. In a bigger image you can make out the spiders webs. High contrast from direct sun would have made this close up image  less detailed.

3. Texture: Gate catch
7474: 1/30s f22 32mm ISO3200
This one shows three contrasting textures all rendered in fine detail by the even lighting. The shadows aren’t blocked up, neither are the highlights burned out, which is a possibility with strong sunlight.

4. This is a reference photo to show the ambient light and the grey sky when shooting this part of the exercise.
7480: 1/500s f11 32mm ISO 800

Conclusion: This part of the exercise clearly demonstrates the the advantage of soft even lighting outdoors to render detail close up and to saturate colours.

Part 4 Light–Project:The Time of Day – Weather 1

Exercise: Cloudy weather and rain
Part 1. Sunlight and cloud: The objective here is to photograph the same subject in both sunny and cloudy conditions making a note of the the difference in exposure. The white balance is set on direct sunlight.
1. Buildings (windy day with rapidly changing light)
7572: 1/1500s f19 ISO3200 18mm (cropped)  4.00 pm
7574: 1/1750s f13 ISO3200 18mm (cropped)  4.00 pm
The difference in exposure works out at 1 stop less aperture and ¼ stop less shutter speed which I estimate is ¾ stop difference overall. I think I should have left my camera on Aperture or Shutter priority to make the estimation easier. The high ISO setting is as a result of taking pictures in the rain earlier in the day. The only appreciable colour difference is the cloudy exposure is slightly blue. This is borne out by my earlier images taken in the shade.

2. Street Scene (windy day with rapidly changing light).

7686: 1/180s f11 ISO200 26mm (cropped) shutter priority 10:40 am
7687: 1/180s f9.5 ISO200 26mm (cropped) shutter priority 10:40 am
I used shutter priority to make sure that I could get easily comparable  exposure settings. In this case just half a stop.

3. Outdoor portrait (windy day with rapidly changing light).
7595: 1/180s f16 ISO200 75mm (cropped) shutter priority 12:45 pm
7596: 1/180s f8 ISO200 65mm (cropped) shutter priority 4:20 pm
This outdoor portrait has an exposure difference of two f stops.
Conclusion: My preference for sunny or cloudy conditions in these examples depends very much on the subject of the photograph. In general, outdoor scenes look better with sunlight, buildings in particular can benefit from the modelling effect of strong sunlight, the curved, domed building in the street scene above is an example. However  the harsh shadows in the same picture are distracting. The picture taken in even light has more details throughout but it does appear flat. All of the cloudy pictures have a slight blue tinge to them. The portrait is far better photographed in the duller conditions. There are no harsh shadows on the face, the skin tone is more even with no bright highlights, the background is less distracting and the softer light from the left gives a softer modelling to the features. These exposures are as taken with no post processing adjustments.

Part 4 Light–Project:The Time of Day - Low Sun

Exercise: Variety with a low sun

Edge Lighting
1. I had several attempts at this one while I was in between exposures on Harting Down. Here is the best, cropped down. This type of lighting works particularly well with a very shallow depth of field to blur the background giving the highlighted edges added impact.
 7499: 1/350s f6.7 200mm ISO200

2. Back Lighting. The sun was very bright  and has burned out. I had better results when the sun had risen higher  and was not in the  frame. There is sufficient light across the landscape to give some detail but the light is very soft.
7432: 1/255s f8 65mm ISO200

3. Side lighting. This was an early morning picture (within 2 hours of sunrise) and shows the long shadows and definite contrast which results from this type of lighting. This type of sunlight can be harsh.
7578: 1/350s f5.6 150mm ISO200

4. Frontal Lighting. My neighbour got his Jaguar out early this morning as the light flooded across the car park. By crouching low I was able to avoid casting my own shadow, although in a larger image, my reflection can be seen just above the sun’s reflection in the bumper. This direct lighting is well suited to shiny surfaces and I found that with the sun low in the sky, it was much easier to find a position where the highlights emphasised the bright work but was not overwhelming.
7600: 1/180s f22 34mm ISO200 Shutter Priority
Conclusion: I  found that there are more interesting lighting effects to be had at times of low sun, in particular at dawn after a cool night. The variety, colour and quality of the light throughout the day and from season to season must be taken into consideration when photographing outdoors.
Supplementary Images: These images showing backlighting were made as opportunity arose during a coastal walk. I made use of  the continuous shooting mode on my camera to isolate and freeze frames during a period of high winds.
7808: 1/1600s f5.6 200mm ISO200
7681: 1/2000s f5.6 200mm ISO200

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Part 4 Light–Project:The Time of Day

Exercise: Light through the day
Objective: The purpose of this exercise is to record the changes in the light on a sunny day from dawn until dusk.
Monday 29th August
I started before the sun rose at 0610 and have included several images taken as the sun rose, before the series of landscape photographs, at least one of which I will include in the “Variety with low sun” exercise.
Along with the exposure details I have noted the time (BST).

Panorama looking NE 4 Frames: 7419-22: 1/8s f5.3 105mm ISO200 (tripod) 0600 am
Panorama 1

Around Dawn:
7416: 1/60s f5.3  95mm ISO200 (tripod) 0559 am

7426: 1/10s f8 ISO200 (tripod) 65mm 0604 am

7427: 1/4s f 9.5 ISO200 95mm (tripod) 0605 am

7443: 1/250s f5.6 ISO200 200mm 0631 am

7445: 1/180s f9.5 ISO200 150mm 0708 am

Light through the day – Dawn to Midday: All photos: ISO200  White Balance: Direct sunlight
Monday 29th August 2011
At the time of writing this, I have completed half of this exercise, from dawn until midday. I chose a landscape that I have used before, looking NW from Harting Down over the village of South Harting. I know that the valley floor is wide enough to get the sun for an extended period over the day. This summer has been very short on prolonged sunny periods but for six hours, there were enough sunny spells to allow me to take at least one frame an hour and a stiff (and very chilly) NW wind kept the clouds moving. For the first half of the day at least, I have achieved my objective. The camera’s white balance setting was set to daylight. I mounted the camera on a tripod and although I took several shots of the rising sun to the east, I was able to return the camera to the tripod and maintain the same frame position throughout the morning.
7429: 1/3s f8 65mm 0607 am (Sunrise 0610 am)

7449:1/60s f8 70mm 0712 am

7456: 1/250s f8 70mm 0800 am

7458: 1/500s f8 70mm 0902 am

7460: 1/500 f8 70mm 1000 am

7465: 1/250s f8 70mm 1127 am

7469: 1/350s f9.5 70mm 1151 am

The changing colour and quality of  the light is clearly shown in the seven images above. The shortening of the shadows as the sun moves higher is also noticeable from the trees in the lower part of  the  picture. There were some clouds moving across the sky which led to me being unable to take pictures at very regular  intervals. These were all I could take on this occasion and I plan to return later in the week to complete the exercise.
Light through the day –  Midday to Dusk: All photos: ISO200 White Balance: Direct sunlight
Friday 2nd September 2011
The weather today was a change from Monday. There was a lot of thin high cloud and haze in the valley which effected the contrast of the images. I think I have corrected this consistently, increasing the contrast enough to bring it within the threshold of the histogram. I made images from early afternoon until the sun was no longer in the main part of the image. My camera position also changed due to circumstances beyond my control so the focal length has varied a little, not only because of this but I was taking the camera from the tripod occasionally to make images for other exercises and found it difficult to reset it in exactly the same position .
4781: 1/500s f8 62mm   2.13 pm

7483: 1/500s f8 62mm 3.19 pm

7486: 1/500 f8 62mm 4.17 pm

7489: 1/500s f8 60mm 5.16 pm

7492: 1/500s f8 60mm 6.16 pm

7500: 1/350s f6.7 60mm  6.46 pm

7506: 1/180s f5.6 60mm  7.04 pm

7507: 1/90s f5.6 62mm 7.15 pm

It is unfortunate that round about 5.30 there was a build up of cloud to the west which has weakened the sunlight. It is also noticeable that the haze has scattered the light more as the sun has got lower in the sky. The light changed very rapidly in the final hour of the exercise. The sunset was at 7.47 pm
showing the effect of the hill to the west in blocking the sun. Even in the haze, I can detect a distinct yellow tint to the light from 5.00 pm. The images I thought the best were those made at around 10.00 am and 3.00pm. The angle of the sun has produced enough modelling to the trees without too many long harsh shadows and the light is just warm enough to evoke a late summer’s day.
Conclusion: Although I am totally familiar with  these aspects of the effects sunlight on the landscape, this is the first time that it has been reinforced in such a dramatic and detailed manner. I thoroughly enjoyed this exercise, not only because I was making photographs but because I was able to spend 13 hours sitting quietly overlooking an area I have known and become familiar with over a period of 50 years.
During the afternoon part of this exercise I was also able to record some images for the  “Variety with low sun” exercise.