Archive for August, 2013

August 9, 2013

Exercise: Cloudy weather and rain. Part 2 & 3.

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Following on from part one of this exercise, now we can demonstrate that overcast and rainy weather needn’t mean putting the camera away. Some scenes are more pleasing when shot in the enveloping, shadowless light. And photos in the rain can make for unusual photos.

Making use of overcast days

These photos of statues really benefit from not having the harsh shadows that a really sunny day would bring. We can better appreciate the subtle forms.

Making use of overcast weather

Another facet of the lighting on overcast days is that subjects with strong colours will appear rich and saturated. These two flowers (taken for the previous chapters assignment on colours but they didn’t make the cut) were taken in Kew Gardens when the day had turned overcast.

Strong coloured subjects photographed on overcast days

Strong coloured subjects photographed on overcast days

Bad Weather & Rain
Bad weather in tropical climates can create some dramatic photos with rolling thunderous clouds and amazing sunsets.

Storms brewing

Storms brewing

Storms brewing

Here we’re waiting for the onset of Hurricane Ernesto. The sky and sea grew stormier and stormier until we had to retreat inside for a day or so, it didn’t stop me taking photos though!

Hurricane Ernesto

Hurricane Ernesto

No one likes to be out when its raining but you can get some really interesting photos. I’m at a certain advantage having a waterproof housing for my camera but even so the rain holds a special fascination for me because the kinds of places we tend to travel too usually has amazingly sunny weather, rain is seldom.

Splashy split shot

Splashy split shot

Rain makes an incredible texture on the surface of the water when shooting from below.

Rain patterns on the surface of the water shot from below

Rain patterns on the surface of the water shot from below

You can get some really interesting rainy shots closer to home too such as theses from London and Florence

Rainy Florence, full of colour

London Night by the Tate

After the rain

If you’re really lucky the sun comes out again and gives you a rainbow or two!

Double Rainbow

Rainbow

August 8, 2013

Exercise: Cloudy weather and rain. Part 1.

by Suzy Walker-Toye

This exercise (p146) comes in 3 parts. The first is a comparison between sunny and cloudy weather for three types of scenes, the second is finding opportunities for best using the diffuse lighting that comes by overcast weather and the third is rain. This post covers part 1 only, part 2 & 3 to follow shortly.

So, for part one we are to take a street scene, a building and people, shoot them (with the WB set to sunny) when the sun is out and when the sun is behind clouds and see what the differences are.

Firstly, two photos of a building (these are straight out of camera with no adjustments in LR).
Building under cloud
ISO 200, f11 1/250

Building in the sun
ISO 200, f11 1/500

Theres an obvious difference in exposure (1 stop) but also the building under cloudy weather is much less warm in tone despite being shot with the same WB. The contrast is higher and the shadows are deeper in the sunny photo.

Secondly a street scene,

Cloudy street scene
ISO 200 f8, 1/200

Sunny street scene
ISO 200 f11 1/320

This time there is a larger difference in exposure: 1-2/3 stops. The overcast photo looks very dull and flat compared with the sunny one. Again you see the sunny one is warmer in tone.

Lastly, people, they didn’t hang around so long in the sunny area so I have different sets of people walking through the same area.

People lit when the sun is behind clouds
ISO 200 f9 1/200

Person in the sun
ISO 200 f11 1/400

This again was about 1-2/3 stops difference in exposure (by the way I was using this nifty little stop difference calculator here). This time we see that the cloudy one is nicer because the people are squinting less against the sun. There are less harsh eye-socket shadows in the cloudy photo too (although it was still quite bright). And although the buildings seem less warm the peoples skin seem ok in colour in both photos.

August 7, 2013

Exercise: Variety with a low sun

by Suzy Walker-Toye

In this exercise, p142, we are demonstrating advantages to shooting when the sun is low, so called magic hour. The light is golden and lovely but from which angle should we shoot? I think the photos get more interesting when we consider all the different angles.

Frontal Lighting: With the sun behind the camera, striking the subject fully. The lighting can appear intense (or flat because the shadows stretch out behind the subjects, be careful not to get your shadow in the photo as I did here in the second photo)!

Frontal Lighting, the sun is behind me

Frontal Lighting, the sun is behind me

Side Lighting: The sun to the left or right will make strong shadows on half of the subject, great for bring out textures but it can be a little harsh if overdone.

Side Lighting

Side Lighting

Side Lighting

Back Lighting: Shoot towards the light (don’t look at the sun though as it can damage your eyes). Interestingly using a higher f-number increases the number of points in the sun ball. This style of lighting is best of subjects with in interesting shape for the silhouette.

Back lighting

Back lighting

Edge Lighting: A special condition for shooting towards the sun where the sun is not behind the subject (usually not in the frame at all, although I choose to keep it within the frame in these tree photos, I included the lion photo again from exercise: measuring exposure to show the sun doesn’t have to be included). The sun hits the edge of the subjects to create a strip of light along the edge of the subject to define it from the background.

Edge Lighting

Edge Lighting

Edge-lit Lion

August 6, 2013

Exercise: Judging colour temperature

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercises on p136 & p139 are two parts of a whole story about judging colour balance. This function is also know as white balance because it sets the very brightest parts of the scene to pure white. Although I thought I had a fairly good handle on what white balance is (when I’m in the sea I set manual WB see below), when using new functions on my camera I like to know what they do. I most often just leave my white balance set to auto and then adjust it slighting in Lightroom if necessary. For the exercise we are using a Danbo (which doesn’t have a strong colour – he’s amazon cardboard box coloured). First I took a few shoots inside (with no lights on, just available daylight) to check the sorts of looks each setting produces.

As you can see, if you hover the mouse over the thumbnails it lists the white balance (WB) setting selected from the camera (you can click to open them bigger in a gallery but its easier to compare them with the thumbnails). The only extra one I added was the auto white balance which has been auto white balanced in Lightroom. I didnt include the flash ones because this post is related to available light photography and not supplied light such as a flash or strobe.
White Balance sliders in Lightroom 4 White balance is made up of Temperature (measured in K for Kelvin) and Tint and those appear as two sliders in LR. Also you can set similar presets (daylight,cloudy,tungsten etc) in a similar way as you can set in the camera. As shot will use the cameras WB settings. The difference here between the auto white balance in the camera and the auto white balance in lightroom was so minimal I could hardly tell a difference by looking at the pictures. However the camera one was 3900K with tint +18 and the auto one was 3850k with tint +17 which is ever so slightly bluer looking with a touch more magenta.

As you can see, the camera presets have a marked difference (apart from underwater which is frankly just confusing as I was expecting that to be really red, but it seems to be just auto with an extra +1 tint so we’ll ignore that one). The sunny setting warms the whole photo up to 5000k (+5 tint). The shade setting warms it even further 7250k (-1 tint). Cloudy is in between them at 5800k (+5 tint). The next two are for dealing with different types of artificial light, incandescent (tungsten lights to you and me) and fluorescent (like you get in shops and offices). These two sets of lights obviously behave quite differently. Incandescent is way down at 2700K (0 tint) and fluorescent is at 4200k but with a massive magenta tink of +53. While I was googeling to check that incandescent actually meant tungsten I found this really useful link.

Anyway, once I took Danbo outside for the real part of the exercise things got pretty interesting. For this exercise I took shots in the sunlight in the middle of the day, shots in the shade in the middle of the day and shots in the sunlight at the end of the day when the sun was low (sometimes called magic hour because the warm colour of the light makes everything look so nice). Here they all are compared.

As you can see depending on if you’re in the sun or the shade and what time of day it is the white balance presets give you different results. The shady images are more blue than the sunny ones and the low sun ones are a really warm yellowy colour. As you can also see, the LR auto WB has quite a different effect on each bringing it back to neutral colours, although we wouldn’t want to in the case of the low sun because we usually shoot at that time of day expressly for the colour balance of the sun at that time. My favourite one? Well the colour of Danbo in the auto WB magic hour is the nicest but I do like auto WB sunny Danbo too. Which one do you think is the best white balance?

When I’m in the sea using shooting available light I use a red filter (called a magic filter). I have to set the manual white balance to allow the camera to compensate for the filter. The filter goes on the back of the lens like this.
Magic Filter

and I set the manual white balance using my hand like this
Setting the white balance manually

This is a shot where I’ve used a magic filter (in this case I actually manually white balanced on the ship since it was white, and with my larger dome my hand doesnt always fill enough of the frame to get a good reading):

And this is a non-filtered available light shot where I’ve tried to white balance on the sand in LR afterwards, as you can see the sea in the top is also white but the blue has gone a horrible colour.

August 5, 2013

Exercise: Measuring Exposure

by Suzy Walker-Toye

And now onto section four – which is all about light. The following quotes seem appropriate here:

Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography. – George Eastman

Light meters read; photographers interpret. – Catherine Jo Morgan

That’s what this first exercise (p131) is designed to explore. Interpreting the light and choosing the exposure which best expresses your intent for the photo. Here are a few photos where the exposure is deliberately darker or lighter than average.

For each of these photos I choose to under or over exposure some part of the photos to achieve the look I was going for.  The first four I’m underexposing and the second for I’m over exposing.

Under-exposures:

The lion in the first photo was edge lit (there’s an exercise on p142 coming up about varieties of lighting with a low sun angle) so the actual lion is shown more as an lion-shape because it is underexposed. In the second photo, shot in the cenotes, the focus is on the amazing light beams that shine in through the surface opening. The rest of the image is somewhat under exposed to emphasise this. The coral inside the cave was being lit from a shaft of light from above and the rest of the cave was much darker, if I had not under-exposed that it would have lost much of its atmosphere. The iconic shape of Ankor Wat in Cambodia is brought out in silhouette by underexposing the building against a lovely sunrise coloured sky.

Over-exposures:

The brightness in the dandelion brings out its fluffy white texture by being slightly backlit. The overall scene of my back garden in the snow is very bright because the snow & sky are both very white. The bright white sand in the photo of the sting ray contrasts with the dark ray very well to emphasise the lovely shape of his tail. And lastly, the sky in the photo of the statue of Neptune in Florence was brilliant white, with a white statue and white sky I exposed for the statue to bring out the textures.

The second part of the exercise on p131 is to take bracketed shots of several scenes (which means take the correct exposure and some under and over exposed versions either side of that, there is usually a bracketing feature on most cameras to do this automatically). Then we can look at the set and see if any of them are actually better slightly under or over exposed. My camera was bracketing with the chosen exposure first then two under exposures and two over exposures, which is how I’ve displayed them below. I’ve removed the really blown out last over exposures though because for everything but the last two rows (the interiors) they were just horrible. I think they all worked best as the proper exposures however if I was going to say over or under as next best thing I think the interiors worked better sightly over exposed and the outdoors sunrise/set ones work better slightly under exposures.

August 1, 2013

Assignment 3: Colour

by Suzy Walker-Toye

This assignment is to demonstrate combinations of colours to show deliberate relationships of harmony & contrast. The assignment is broken down into four types of relationship which I have put as headings above each section of photographs. We were asked to vary the subject matter by ‘finding’ situations where the colour relationship already exists and also ‘setting up’ situations to manufacture the relationship. I wanted an overall look to my assignment despite having to both find and set up the colours so I choose flowers as my overall subject to give the assignment a bit of coherence, sometimes I could find the colours within the flowers and their natural surroundings and sometimes I set up the backdrop by holding a coloured card behind them. So without further ado…

Complimentary colours
These are colours which face each other across the colour wheel (of primary and secondary colours). Click into see the images bigger and read the descriptions to see if I set up the colours or found them.

Similar colours
These are warm and cool colours which are next to each other on the colour wheel.

Contrasting colours
These are colours which contrast strongly and are spaced about a third of the way around the wheel from each other.

Colour Accents
These are images where a small splash of colour sits against a much larger area of another colour as a spot or accent of colour.

%d bloggers like this: