Studio photography course
I have just enrolled on an eight week course at a local further education college to learn about studio lighting. I think a lot of time was wasted and I feel that I should have learned more in the time we had but I have a general ‘feel’ for the subject now that I didn’t have before.
Introduction to the studios
I now know what a studio looks like, how flash triggers work with radio transmitters, and the names of some of the lighting options. I am aware of backdrops, reflectors, soft boxes, snoots, still life tables, light tents and light meters.
High and low key work
We did some high key work to produce bright images and some low key work to produce dark images in minimal lighting. I will research more of this at home as the course was not sufficient really to give me anything but the basics.
Regarding a high key set up, I have started to understand how to set exposure and adjust lighting in the 2:1 lighting ratio so the light illuminating the backdrop is twice as strong as the front lighting in order to overexpose the white backdrop, whilst ensuring that the model remains correctly exposed. I was interested to understand how the ‘house’ lighting doesn’t affect the exposure and neither does the shutter speed as it is the flash firing at short duration that determines the exposure.
Regarding low key work we set models against a black backdrop. The lighting from the left side creates sharp contrast around the cheeks and the folds of the model’s jumper; and the softer fill light flatters the face. The model’s expression certainly adds to the appeal of the photograph and I chose to change it to monochrome, post camera, to add to the flattering effect.
Tent lighting and shiny objects
Our task was to photograph a shiny silver teapot, avoiding any glare and reflection. We used soft lighting and a light tent to facilitate this. By placing sheets of black cardboard at either side of the object (within the tent) we saw how to give definition to the edges when set against a white backdrop.
Glass is tricky as it is both reflective and transparent. The main concern was eliminating those hot spots and reflections that can occur. It is necessary to use either top, bottom or back lighting in order to do this and not to light it directly. Our lighting was from the back in this instance. I am sure that experts have a more sophisticated studio than this!
We went in to the studio and set our cameras to ‘manual’. With tripods, and with ISO set at 100, we set shutter speeds to five seconds. We then adjusted the aperture to correctly expose our images. The tutor then used his mobile phone and waved the torch around in front of him so that we produced black images with lines of light in a random pattern.
He then passed a light around the contours of one of the students. Still with shutter speeds of five seconds, we captured the outline of a person as the five seconds was long enough to capture the light as it travelled round the body.
The next thing was to fire the studio light three times during a five second interval and take images of the tutor as he moved around the studio. By moving his position we could obtain three different portrait shots within the same image as the studio was lit up three separate times by the flash firing in quick succession.
We did a bit of work on light trails standing on a bridge overlooking a dual carriageway at night and used long exposures to create light trails from the cars’ brake and head lights. My GorillaPod was secured to the bridge railings to ensure that the image was not effected by camera shake.
I also experimented with using a shorter exposure to create sharper images of the headlights to create black images with dots of light.
I have increased the exposure of this image, below, post camera, to produce a dark image but with cars and road quite visible. The golden light of the underpass draws the eye into the image.
We briefly considered the use of complimentary (opposite) colours such as blue and yellow to show colour contrast. The result is a high contrast vibrant image like this one where colours appear brighter when used together.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
I am reminded of an image that I took for a previous exercise, below, where the small hints of blue against yellow are striking:
… and another one of my images, but this time these are not opposite colours they are similar colours and as such give a calmer feel. I think our very brief class discussion of colour has made me more aware and I will ensure that I think more about colour in future projects.
Vincent van Gogh was very aware of contrasting colours:
The Starry Night 1889
and this is some of the group in action ……
Anything that gets me using my camera is good, but I would have liked more constructive time in the studio. However, I have gained some knowledge of how a studio works and in the basics of lighting set ups and have been introduced in to an area of photography that I previously knew nothing about. I am pleased to add to my general understanding but I need to research all this much further and put it into practice as well.