An exercise in shooting in low sunlight. Can’t believe it’s taken me so long to post these, all taken one day in early december in the city of Trinidad, Cuba (the third one was taken that morning, the rest in the evening).

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1. Frontal lighting – sun behind the camera.

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2. Side lighting.

3. Back lighting.

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4. Edge lighting.


The basic conditions required to do this project seemed at first glance to be actually impossible: “Ideally, you should find a good, clear, view of a distinctive scene that is lit throughout the day – an isolated buidling, perhaps, but easy to reach,” so as to be able to return every hour through the day. Hahahaha! Not that many isolated buidings around Stoke Newington High Street. Not that much isolated anything for that matter. And in any built up area, it’s pretty hard to find anything that’s lit throughout the day.

Anyway, I decided to work with what I’ve got, and set up my tripod on my balcony, the corner wall of which catches the sun for quite a lot of the day. And then discovevered that the buildings in front do actually seem to catch the light between them all through most of the day. I used a wide angle lens for this project, so they’re only just discernable in the centre of the frame. I could do the whole thing again with a longer lens trained on those buildings… but probably won’t.

These fascinating pictures of my wall do manage to nicely show the changing colour of the light, from golden in the early morning, through colourless from late morning (visible in the 11.30 shot, though probably really from about 11am), then warming up again at about 3.30 (visible in the distant building in the centre of the frame).

Although my lovely wall was in shadow from 1.30 onwards, it obligingly continued to make a contribution by demonstrating the blueness of the shadow on an otherwise sunny, clear-skied day (see project 42).

There was nothing left catching the sun for the 4.30pm shot, and the whole scene has taken on a magenta-ish tinge. Not sure why this is… Perhaps because the light reflected off the sky, is now mixed with the redness of the setting sun. That’s my guess, anyway.

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8.30am

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9.30am

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10.30am

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11.30am

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12.30pm

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1.30pm

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2.30pm

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3.30pm

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4.30pm


The idea of this project was to note my perception of the colour of the light in midday sunlight, in the shade at midday, then when the sun is close to the horizon.

Midday sun is colourless, but when the subject is in shade in the middle of a sunny day, it’s likely that the main source of lighting will be the light reflected from the sky, and if it’s a clear day with a blue sky, that light will have a blue tint.

At sunset/sunrise, the particles in the earth’s atmosphere causes the blue (shortest) wavelengths in the sun’s light to be scattered, making what remains to take on a warm orange/red appearance.

The first two photos below were taken within seconds of each other in the middle of a sunny day. The blue tint in the photo taken in the shade is apparent although I think if it was not next to the first I might not pick it up. I think perhaps the white buildings next to us might have lessened the effect, as may have the fact that my subject was suntanned and thus had fairly warm toned skin to begin with.

I didn’t manage to get a sunset/sunrise shot at the time, so have cheated by adding one from my library which clearly shows the yellow light of sunrise.

I’m very used to seeing and noticing the colour of the light when the sun is low (and have noticed that the effect seems much more pronounced in the photo than in the moment due to our eyes’ automatic white balance correction) but I hadn’t particularly noticed the blue-shade effect before, so clever are my eyes in tricking me!

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The purpose of this project was to use the camera as a meter rather than letting it control exposure.

This was going over old ground a bit. I always shoot with my thumb on the exposure compensation dial, ready to add/subtract exposure to the camera’s average reading, according to the image I want to achieve. (Not that I always get it spot on. Hurray for the digital age, where you can sort it out later if it’s a bit off!)

Still, I’m determined to do all the projects I can physically manage, to glean as much practice and as many insights from the course as possible.

I enjoyed searching out light/dark images, where the meter readings would be inadequate. Below are results of that exercise.

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1. This view from below is taken at night, with the open sky in the top triangle and much of the rest in shadow. I exposed 2 stops under the meter’s reading.

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2. It was a darkening winter’s evening. I exposed at one stop under the reading so as to record what I saw.

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3. Another night scene. I exposed at one stop under the meter’s reading.

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4. As most of this image is very pale, I gave it 2 stops more exposure than the reading.

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5. I gave this snow scene two stops more exposure as well. It was actually pretty dark despite this, and I added another 1/2 stop in post processing. I know it’s blue! This was the camera’s auto white balance… but I decided not to correct as it seemed to capture the sense of temperature better than the corrected version…

What follows is actually the first part of the project, which was to shoot several photographs, bracketing the exposure of each, to give five differently exposed versions of each image. The idea being to see whether alternative exposures than the one I had in mind would also be acceptable interpretations of the scene, as viable images. I didn’t quite do it properly, as I bracketed around the camera’s average image, rather than around my preferred exposure. However, it’s possible to see that more than one of the exposures below would be acceptable.

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Last Saturday I grabbed the double opportunity provided by the sunny weather and my new years hangover (i’d cancelled all other plans) and took an hourly light reading over the course of Saturday, 2 Jan. The readings at 11.30 and 12.30 were off due to some high clouds, but amazingly it was sunny on Sunday too, so I was able to grab the readings for the missed hours then.

I also had a very unexpected reading on Saturday afternoon, with an f-stop as high as f40 indicated. I’d taken this reading in front of my flat, which is on a main shopping street, and I’m sure that the low sun was being reflected off the buildings and windows along the street causing this high reading. So Sunday I retook this reading as well, in a little park around the corner. This did turn out to be less extreme, although I was still a bit surprised by the jump in intensity of the sunlight between around 1pm and 2pm. I thought it would just plateau at about 11. I’m sure reflections can influence the intensity of light in built up areas, but it’s difficult to know how much (and difficult for me to carry out this project somewhere free of reflections, living in such an urban area… I actually intended to do these ‘round the clock’ projects while on holiday in Cuba, but it turned out to be an incredibly impractical thing to try to do whilst on holiday with limited time to spare!)

It was conveniently one of the shortest days of the year. I think it would be worth repeating the exercise later in the year, to see how the position of the sun in the sky from sesason to season also influences the intensity of the light.


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1 – Colour accent (contrasting colours)
1/60 sec @ f9, ISO 800. Lens: 18mm
In this photograph, the cool and moody greys and desaturated blues are punctuated by the yellow accent of the passing car. I used a slightly slow shutter speed to allow some sense of movement of the car against the still background, and I introduced the vignetting digitally (in Lightroom), to fit with the dated, toy-camera feel of the image with its slightly grainy quality and the old-fashioned car.

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2 – Colour accent (complementary colours)
1/320 sec @ f2.8, ISO 200. Lens: 50mm
Although the green of the canopy above is turning yellowish with autumn, I think the complementary effect is still present, emphasising both the colour of the leaves and the red apple. The fact that they are not side by side further lessens the impact of the combination.


3 – Colour accent (similar colours)
4 secs @ f10, ISO 100. Lens: 50mm
The pink-red of the tulip creates a warm accent against the violet background, which forms an inverted triangle around the flower.


4 – Colour accent (on neutral colours)
1/100 sec @ f14, ISO 400. Lens: 35mm
Despite being very small in area, the hot red of the inside of the car door stands out sharply against the neutral grey of the car and wall.


5 – Complementary colours (blue & orange)
1/80 sec @ f6.3, ISO 400. Lens: 50mm
The saturated blue of the bicycle is brought out by the equally saturated orange of the door behind. The neutral tones in the surrounding area accentuate both of the colours.


6 – Complementary colours (green and red #1)
1/125 sec @ f8, ISO 800. Lens: 50mm
The still reflection, the horizontal lines and the almost-symmetrical reflection create a balanced and calm sensation, even though the areas of the red and green are not in the ‘ideal’ harmonious ratio: they are approximately 2:1.


7 – Complementary colours (pink and green)
1/60 sec @ f2.8, ISO 400. Lens: 46mm
The pink leaves of the vine and the light green of the other foliage are lightened, pastel versions of the complementary green/red pairing.


8 – Complementary colours (green and red #2)
3.2 secs @ f22, ISO 100. Lens: 105mm
Here the colour relationship I want to highlight is between the green (mixed with browns and yellows) of the dying leaf and the red (mixed with oranges and yellows) patch to the right, where the decay is more advanced). Both colours are greatly ‘corrupted’, but I think they continue to play off one another even though the complementary effect is subdued.


9 – Contrasting colours (primaries #1)
1/125 sec @ f3.5, ISO 200. Lens: 18mm
The three primary colours are fairly equally desaturated. The image is made up of rectangles and there is not a lot of movement, but the chunky shapes and the broken window bars add interest (I hope).


10 – Contrasting colours (primaries #2)
1/50 sec @ f13, ISO 100. Lens: 18mm
Again, the three primary colours appear in more or less rectangular blocks, each being fairly equally faded and dilapidated (apart from the small patch of sky). Movement is created by the rhythm of the walkway arches.


11 – Contrasting colours (orange and violet)
1/160 sec @ f8, ISO 400. Lens: 20mm
Although it doesn’t have much area, the purple outline of the graffiti stands out against the saturated orange of the wall. I like this effect and the way the horizontal lines of the fence continue up the wall, although the image is otherwise very abstract and has little else to engage the viewer’s eye.


12 – Contrasting colours (yellow and blue)
1/100 sec @ f9, ISO 100. Lens 50mm
The bright yellow of the stairwell at the South Bank stands out sharply against, and moves forward from, the darker but equally saturated clear autumn sky. This is another abstract image, where the subject matter is the colours themselves.


13 – Similar colours (blues & violet)
1/60 sec @ f2.8, ISO 400. Lens: 67mm
Dark, undulating blues, blue-violet and black create a sensation of coolness in temperature and of a deep glowing space opening out behind the singer.


14 – Similar colours (reds, oranges and browns)
5 secs @ f10, ISO 100. Lens: 105mm
A selection of ‘broken’ oranges and reds, beiges and browns create the effect of warmth and conveys the age of the items found in my family archives.


15 – Similar colours (pink and orange)
1/13 sec @ f2.8, ISO 100. Lens: 105mm
The pink flower and orange background create the sensation of warmth, which is only slightly off-set by the yellow-green stem.


16 – Similar colours (blue and green)
1/200 sec @ f14, ISO 100. Lens: 18mm
The green and blue of the netting and ropes suggest coolness and calm, which contrasts with the slightly chaotic pattern created by the stacked shapes.


Another lengthy delay just uploading this photos – they’ve been sitting here for months. It’s frustrating, I’d soooo love to have more time to spend on this course. I’m working on my colour assignment. It’s nearly ready but I’m thinking of postponing as I’m off to Cuba at the end of the month (yay!)  and I’m sure there’ll be much more inspiration there than I’ve been able eek out of my very busy and mundane life over the last few months.

Anyway, here we have some examples of warm/ cool contrasts…. Found on opposite sides of the colour wheel, warm/cool colours are often complementary in relationship too. Warm approaches out of the frame, cool recedes…

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Warm – All the decor of this fast food outlet in Madrid is in warm colours, which are enhanced by the tungsten lighting. My friends and I were amused to find a Pollo Campero in Madrid as it’s a Guatemalan company and featured a lot in one way or another (generally with some irony) in our year together over there.

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Cool (in every sense of the word!) – Another from the Leonard Cohen concert in September.

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Warm/cool contrast – The fact that the blue room was lit with daylight and the yellow room by tungsten (making it look orange) enhanced the temperature contrast.




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