Archive for ‘Exercises’

November 5, 2013

Exercise: Rain Magazine Cover

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p181 is to create a magazine cover on the subject of rain. Here is mine:

Rain cover

I did take this other image at the same time but I think the one I chose it better. Rainy london.

Alternative Rain

October 24, 2013

Exercise: Juxtaposition

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Juxtaposition is all about putting objects together to suggest a relationship and its the mainstay of illustration. In this exercise we are encouraged to take a book and create a new cover for it by taking relevant elements of the story and incorporating those together.

I recently read a very silly book called Undead & Unwed. It’s a comedy about a completely handbag & shoe preoccupied young woman called Betsy who gets killed and wakes up, not only undead, but queen of the vampires because for some reason she can walk in the sun. Pride and Prejudice for the new generation? Not. But funny nevertheless. Here is my new cover for it…

Undead & Unwed My New Cover

I choose fake (glow in the dark) fangs (to indicate comedy and vampire), OTT handbag and clearly fake blood. The real cover looks like this where they use ditzy blond doing her make up sitting on a gravestone:
Undead And Unwed Cover

October 23, 2013

Exercise: Symbols

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Following on from yesterdays exercise, this next one (on p178) is more of a thought exercise than a practical one. The idea is to find symbols for a number of supplied concepts here are mine:

  • Growth – eggs, small green shoots, little & large comparisons, children wearing adults cloths & shoes, increasing line graph, seeds, babies
  • Excess – sex, drugs & rock & roll lifestyles, banquets, super drunk people, obesity, exaggerated bling
  • Crime – guns, knives, handcuffs, police badges, mugshots, bloody bodies, chalk outlines, hoodies, balaclavas, swag, being arrested
  • Silence – silencers, headphones, praying, libraries, one finger to lips hush sign
  • Poverty – open hand (begging), 3rd world aid, tramps, people rummaging through bins, soup (kitchen), two cents (have not got two to rub together), the big issue.
October 22, 2013

Exercise: Evidence of Action

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p177 is a challenge to produce one photo in which it can be seen that something has happened. Suggestions included something that might have been broken or emptied. Here I went for something spilled.

Spilt Milk

The project associated with this action is all about illustration, and about how it really comes into its own when the subject is dealing with an abstract idea or concept. I wanted to illustrate the saying “No point crying over split milk”, which is another way of saying accidents happen, or what’s in the past is done and you have to suck it up and deal with the situation. I was going to use real milk but I had the idea to use milk illustration (cut out paper) as stand in. It illustrated my point better using the graphical concept of spilt milk.

The example of illustrating an idea that is given in the exercise is when insurance companies need to advertise. The second part of the exercise was to think of 5 examples of concepts that are regularly depicted in advertising & publicity:

  • Love – advertisers are continually trying to sell using love
  • Wealth – advertisers know that many people want to be rich
  • Faith – all sorts of symbols for this across the different faiths
  • Popularity – advertsiers play with popularity, who’s hot or not, the facebook ‘like’ thumbs up, etc
  • spread bettering – the best one I saw for this was a patched teddybear with a slogan about being stuffed, it made me laugh because many people get caught out spread betting so a company that can help you reap the rewards without so much risk would be worth it.
  • Virus protection – this is a bit like insurance, where they tend to use shields etc as symbols for protection.

There are many photographers who specialise in conceptual photograph, the one who springs to my mind is David Nitsche

David Nitsche

October 21, 2013

Exercise: A Narrative Picture Essay

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The narrative picture essay is a series of images which tell a story. We are all so used to trying to tell a story with one image sometimes we forget that a photo essay might be a more appropriate vehicle for telling the full story. I often do this on my personal blog when I come home from a trip (e.g. Whalesharks in Mexico). If there has been several discreet ‘chapters’ to my the story of my trip I might split them up into several blog posts and over the breadth of the trip across those (for example here, with my Namibia trip).

Image placement ,size and spacing becomes important in a picture essay. The images work differently when placed next to other images than in a standalone post. You can use size and order to emphasise certain aspects and shape the story. Captions are integral to most photo essays, linking the photos together to weave the story and give you greater insight to what is going on. The layout would be different depending on where & how the essay is to be displayed. I construct my blogs around my images but I try and shot my images to be standalone images for the most part. When you shoot for a story you find yourself taking context & linking shots which otherwise you might not take (or if you take them you might not normally choose to display them), but in the context of the story they can become the glue that hold the stand alone images together.


I actually went out into the Red Sea with the express intention of creating a photobook of my trip (for Solo photo book month). I had been to the Red Sea before, on the same boats in fact. So I knew what to expect. The types of shots to prepare for and most importantly I knew I wanted a photo book at the end of it. I found myself planning out the main story and then shooting to it rather than just my usual ‘street’ photography style of shoot what is interesting at the time. It was quite a challenge, the aim is to create 35 photos (or more) and text (if you want to) and put them in a PDF photobook all within 31 days! Also, because I’d planned it upfront, I was able to quiz my boat-mates throughout the week for some quotes on what they thought of the Red Sea to appear in my book.

The SoFoBoMo site (which has closed down now) had a size restriction on the file so I didn’t bother trying to print it because it’d look very crap. It’s been optimised for screen viewing and compressed to within an inch of its life to get it down to under 7mb. I was on a PC when I edited (not my Mac) so I used Microsoft publisher to layout which was pretty easy to use. I published to pdf but there wasn’t really any options on the pdf (security or document properties or anything) so I downloaded a free trial version of Adobe Acrobat 9 to edit my pdf properties. It was a very enjoyable process.

Here is my eBook.

October 7, 2013

Assignment 4: Applying lighting techniques

by Suzy Walker-Toye

For this assignment the task was to apply different lighting techniques to one object to emphasise Shape, form, texture & colour. Click on the small images below to enter the gallery view.

I’ve put my critical review & thoughts into my learning log pdf part 4.

Here are two bonus photos which didn’t quite match the rest of the set but which I also liked…

This could be an alternative for Texture:
Bonus 1

This could be an alternative for Form:
Bonus 2

October 3, 2013

Book Review: Light Science Magic

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

This is Nice simple introduction to lighting principles. I like the way they don’t try and narrow it down to using flashes and get too bogged down in the equipment right out of the gate. That is often off-putting to a beginner like me, when you pick up a book about lighting & flash. However here, they acknowledge that the same principles apply whether you are using the sun & clouds, desk lamps & DIY diffusers or high-end studio lighting. They are teaching the physics behind it (but in a practical and useful manner whatever your equipment).

For me personally I found this book very useful because I have only used flashes underwater (where the physics is a little different due to the water column, depth away from the sun, particles in the water catching the light (backscatter) and a host of other factors). On those flashes (two Inon z240 strobes), they come with two types of diffusers (but I have only ever used one set) and I have DIY red gel filters so that I get nice blue backgrounds. Colour drop off due to depth & distance is not an issue on land of course. When I shoot on land I use desk lamps for macro with official diffusers (just a little DIY tracing paper). Quite often I use shiny surfaces as backdrops so the explanations in this book will help me to master the glare and reflections to achieve the photos that I want rather than my previous trial and error approach. I’d recommending reading this straight away if you are doing this course and not waiting for section 4 (the lighting section).

They go through examples of photographing things and what sort of set ups would work and why. Such as photographing artwork & other flat surfaces (great for OCA students)! Also, shiny surfaces such as metal, transparent objects like glasses (the subject I found most useful considering my first assignment ideas) and photos that would need a mixture of surfaces catered for. Also, chapters on lighting people with one or more lights. Also, lighting for difficult extremes such as black on black or white on white.

I’d recommend this as a must read to anyone new to lighting or someone who’d only read lighting books that explained the who & what but didn’t get around to the why. This is a nice companion to the course and I’d say the most practically useful book so far. It’s also nicely laid out for reference, I shall be dipping back into this as a reference for years to come I expect.

October 3, 2013

Exercise: Shiny Surfaces

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p163 is about taking photos of reflective surfaces. The instructions were a bit weird, take a shiny object to lay flat and photograph & light from from above. Then take a cone of tracing paper to put over the lens and the object (but not in the photo) to stop the shiny object from reflecting everything about. Right, so I duely got about a spoon and gave it ago. However I couldn’t get the tracing paper cone big enough or stiff enough to stay in place over the spoon out of shot. Finally after getting very irritated with such a silly request I managed to (sort of) do it with a five pence piece. The first photo is the 5p just lit with a bare desk lamp. The second 5p is lit with the silly cone of shame over (see the little set up shot).

5p bare light
5p under the cone
5p Setup tracing paper cone

What we’re actually seeing here is that in the first shot the light is not in the family of angles that would be a direct reflection on the 5p. Chapter 6 of the Light, Science and Magic book (see my bookshelf) explains this very well. In the ‘under the cone’ shot the 5p is reflecting its surroundings (the cone). This is actually better demonstrated in my next set of images, which dont use a cone but a light tent (better, more stable version of the cone).


Setup 1

The first image is just the two bare lights. You can see it reflects its surroundings completely.
Photo with Setup 1

Setup 2
I thought to soften the light with diffusers but you can see the brown cardboard in the left hand cup and my arm reaching out to hold the second diffuser in both the larger cups.
photo with setup 2

This was the same set up as before but I moved the diffusers closer to the cups, you see its removed the brown colours in the left hand cup because the centre of the diffuser is now firmly in the family of angles which the cup directly reflects. But you can still see me and the rest of the surround reflected.

Photo with setup 3

Setup 3

To fix that you need the whole object surrounded (like with the cone) so we can use a light tent. You can still see me and the camera in the opening from the tent though.

Photo from setup 4

Setup 5

The light tent comes with a little front piece with a slit in it for just such an occasion which attaches with velcro. This allows you to just poke the camera lens through the opening to minimise as much of the direct reflections as possible. Obviously we cannot not have the lens there, if we don’t point the camera at the object we don’t get a photo, but we’ve done what we can. I guess if you wanted too, at this point you could just clone that out in photoshop to tidy it up a bit.

Photo from setup 5

Setup 6

The reason I took this last photo, is I thought that the left hand cup was a bit bright, so I re-angled the lamp outside of the tent a bit more to my liking.

Photo from setup 6

In truth I prefer the wider angle of the first few photos, and the light tent with the front open, if you were to just make the opening black to remove the reflection of camera & me then it would look better I think than the weird frontage that the front flap reflection gives.


October 2, 2013

Exercise: Concentrating Light

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Danbo in spotliht

If you only want light to fall on part of the scene you can create a snoot or some other way to confine the light. That is what the exercise on p162 is all about. Here I took my desk lamp shade off and replaced it with a piece of rolled up black card to create a spotlight.

Setup Spotlight Setup normal light

Danbo in normal light

Purse in normal light

Purse in spotlight

Tags: ,
September 25, 2013

Exercise: Outdoors At Night

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p152 is all about photographing at night in the city centre. The aim of this exercise is to explore the variety of lighting effects and colour in artificial light. To include in our list of image were the following:

  • A floodlit building (where the lights are hidden)
  • A brightly lit storefront
  • A large interior such as a shopping centre
  • And a view of a busy road where we can create light trails of the car lights rushing by.

The view skyline would look much better at dusk where there is a hint of light in the sky however I usually go home before its dark at this time of the year or I’m out for a reason until it’s full dark – this time I was at the David Bailey and Bruce Weber exhibition. Although having said this – London has so much light pollution it is never really black anyway.


Closed Tube

The Tower

City lights

City Lights

The Gherkin



Lit Walkway

Triangles & Lights

Office Block


Outside seating

Liverpool St Station

Busy Street

Empty Street






Shopping Mall

Liverpool St Station

Liverpool St Station

Upturned Spotlights

Shiny building

September 24, 2013

Olympus Image Space @ The Loading Bay

by Suzy Walker-Toye

This weekend Olympus was doing a very special event to celebrate the launch of my camera‘s big brother the EM1. I went along to the free workshops and they were a great chance to try out some types of photography I’d never done before. Studio lighting with a model and Indoor urban performance photography. And there was a photographic exhibition on in the space – Women of Iceland by Gabrielle Motola. It was especially good given that the current chapter I’m doing for TAOP is ‘Light’. Here are some of the shots I produced.

Studio Lighting with Damian McGillicuddy:

Damian basically set up the lights and talked up thought the choices he’d made and why he’d set the lights up like this. He had two FL-50r speed lights (with some sort of little lighting sock on them so they didn’t light up the white columns they were next to) behind the model for a back/rim lighting. The main light was another FL-50r behind a soft box into the models face from the side. He then got the model to stand ‘like an innocent little girl’ which to be honest given what she was wearing I found a bit creepy. I got her to do the same pose to see if I could get similar photos to Damian but she looked so sad that when Damian was busy with something else I got her to be a bit silly – which she seemed to enjoy – doing aeroplanes 🙂 Here are the photos…

Setting up – I wanted to take a few shots when no flashes were going off and I actually really like these:
Setting up

Damian’s assistant Matt took the light meter readings – all the flashes were on manual mode:
Matt taking a light meter reading

I took this shot before I changed to square format. You can see that they’d moved one light a bit so they ended up slightly asymmetric, maybe its ocd but I really wanted to go over and change it!
Wide shot

On Damian’s advice I set it to square format (thinking I’d be able to choose the crop again later since I’m shooting raw, but for some reason it only showed me the square format in LR and I could get back to the original, not doing that again, I’d prefer to crop in LR if I’m going too):

You can see the light flare in from one side where the light was nearer on one side that the other – it does look quite cool but I would have preferred it if it was intentional.

Aeroplanes 🙂

Urban Performance Photography with R. Cleveland Aaron.

We actually arrived just as one session was finishing – with some cool acrobats doing flips etc but I wasnt standing in the right place for this one. I really wished we’d been there for the whole session with them. As much as the next session was really good, I have less than zero interesting in football.

Urban performers Urban performers

Our session was with football freestyler Colin Nell. He was very talented. If you like football tricks. They work better in video than stills though.

Football freestyler

Football freestyler

I did get to test the ISO capability of my camera though because downstairs it was very dark – only lit by those LED lights so to get a reasonable shutter speed with my not so fast lens I was up at 4000!!

Here is a 1:1 of a portion of that image with no noise reduction on it – ouch:
High Iso 4000

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

I switched to video which worked much better to capture his actions:

We then went upstairs for another round with a bit more light (thank goodness)! Where Colin demonstrated the same stunts with a hat, a tennis ball and lastly a golfball. He finished off by catching that one in his mouth – eek.

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

Football Freestyler

As talented as he was (and he was very skilled, not one ball came bounding over to the photographers) I still would have preferred to be watching the previous people backflip.

Women of Iceland Exhibition by Gabrielle Motola.

More infor about this in my paper log.
Women of Iceland Exhibition

Here is another review of this event.

September 18, 2013

Exercise: Contrast & Shadow fill

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p160 introduces the concept of shadow-fill. Essentially if you have your light source at an oblique angle you will have high contrast on your subject – the side facing the light will be bright because it is lit and the side facing away from the light source is very dark because it is not lit. So what do we do above the loss of details on the unlit side? Add a second light? Maybe – but then we’d blast the contrast out and lose the depth in the picture – the 3D-ness of the subject would be lost. This is where shadow-fill comes in. A small bit of light to just lift those shadows. This exercise is to show that affect. Firstly using a straight light. Then light + diffuser. Then light + diffuser + a white ‘bounce’ card opposite the light to bounce back the light into the shadows of the subject. Then further experiments with the reflectiveness of the bounce card.

First the light only shot:
bare light only

I noticed that the light was actually lighting up the white ceiling and wall (even though the table was as far from the wall as I could get it) so I set up a black ‘gobo’ (go between) to block the natural shadow fill of the room. Here is the resulting shot. Notice how the right hand side of the headphones are now darker.
Light & black bounce card

This is the same set up (with light and black gobo) but with a diffuser added in front of the light. I’ve added the set up shot (taken on my iPhone) for this below. Notice this has softened all the shadows and reduced the highlights.
Light & diffuser & black bounce card

You can see that the light is a desk lamp (with daylight bulb) and the diffuser is the same home made one from the previous exercises. The black gobo to block the shadowfill is just my black laptop-case propped into position by some cans.
p160 exercise set up

In this one, I’ve removed the black gobo. so the rooms natural shadowfill is back but lessened by the diffuser
Light & diffuser only

In this one, its the same as above, in fact from now on we’ll keep the light & diffuser static. however this time I’ve put a white card about 1m away from the headphones, opposite the light to bounce the light into the right hand side of the headphones to fill the shadows (even more than the room already was).
Light & diffuser and white board 1m away

I’ve moved the card nearer to the end of the table here, nearer to the subject an d the light. It’s effect is magnified and the shadows are lifted even further.
Light & diffuser & white board at tables edge

In this one, instead of just a plain white card I have covered it in kitchen foil but with the dull side out. This is bouncing more light than the plain white board.
Light & diffuser & dull foil board at tables edge

Here even more light is being bounced into the shadows because I’ve turned over the foil and am now using the shiny side to reflect the light (you see why they may be called reflectors now). This is as bright as my shadows get in this little series.
Light & diffuser & shiny foil board at tables edge

This one here is less bight in the shadows because although I’m still using the shiny side of the foil as they reflector, I’ve crumpled it them smoothed it back out but the effect is lessened because it can never been as smooth and reflective as it once was. This is brighter than the white card but less bright than the dull side of the foil before it was crumpled. It does seem a bit more even than the other foils shots though so probably my favourite.
Light & diffuser & crumpled shiny foil board at tables edge

You can easily see the difference a simple reflector makes to the contrast of the image.

September 16, 2013

Exercise: the lighting angle

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p158 is a series of photos where the camera & subject stay static and the light moves around the subject. This is to get a feel for the way the angle of lighting will affect a subject. I’ve chosen a subject with many facets to show light & shadow with each angle change. The first five are at subject level. The next five are at a 45 degree angle from the subject and the last one is directly lit from above. Please click on the thumbnails to open the gallery:

I took small setup shots on my iphone for each of them (below) but it may be easier to see what the lighting set up was from my diagram which shows the table, first from above then from the side of all the positions the lamp was in for each of the 11 shots.

Lighting Diagram p158

In each of the set up shots I used a lens cap to represent the placement of the camera (usually) just out of shot.

setup 1 setup 2 setup 3 setup 4 setup 5 setup 6 setup 7 setup 8 setup 9 setup 10 setup 11


September 14, 2013

Exercise: Softening the light

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p157 is designed to show the effects of adding a diffuser to a light. Here are two photos of Danbo. The first is with a bare lamp (I’m using normal desk lamps with Daylight bulbs in them) and the second with a diffuser. The diffuser was home made with a polystyrene frame and tracing paper screen that you can see in the set up photos below.

Bare Bulb

With Diffuser

In the second one you can see all the shadows are are softened and much reduced. The edged of the shadows are much less defined. And the harsh shadow under his chin has disappeared. The contrast & highlights have also been reduced.

These are the set up shots, the only thing I changed was to hold the diffuser between the light and Danbo.
Set up shot 1 Set up shot 2

September 13, 2013

Exercise: Tungsten and Florescent lighting

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p151 is a follow on from the earlier colour balance exercise. It’s split into two parts – part one is essentially its a comparison between tungsten & daylight. I couldn’t find any tungsten environments in which to test this one, none of the lights in our house (and all my friends & family) were tungsten. Mainly everyone uses halogen now as they are much better for the environment so I think perhaps the course needs to be updated ;). I’ll leave this here as a place holder in case I’m able to find something before I finish the section.

The second part of the exercise is comparing different florescent bulbs. The first set below are of our friend Danbo again this time lit by a small florescent bulb. The second set are Danbo in my office light by the florescent overheads. The third set are the same images shot indoors, light by daylight (for comparison).

Its interesting to note that modern overhead florescent lights we have at work at very close in white balance to daylight. The florescent at home (top row) is much warmer but I was surprised to see that the incandescent white balanced looked the closest to the correct white balance!

The overal colour quality in the top two rows dont look as good as those shot in daylight because florescent lamps do not emit a full colour spectrum.

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


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.


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.


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.

April 21, 2013

Exercise: Colour into tones in black & white

by Suzy Walker-Toye


The exercise on p119 is about trying to explain the use of colour filters on the outcome of a black and white photo. The exercise gives you the option of using actual colours filters on your camera of you have them or faking it with software if you do not. As I do not I choose to fake it with software as directed and I discovered something interesting (if not wholly unexpected). The sliders in LR (and probably photoshop is the same) do NOT mimic traditional filters. They can, if you know what you are doing with the sliders, and if you already know how traditional filters work, but I think this will confuse many people taking the OCA course (I did me, until I had it properly explained by Mike, B&W extraordinaire).

So what is the difference? Well, a traditional colour filter will lighten the area of that colour and darken the area of the complimentary colour in the resulting black and white image. So an orange filter would be used to darken a blue sky for example. In contrast the sliders in LR only darken and lighten the colour of that slider and all the other colours remain untouched. To demonstrate this I have taken a colour photo with all the primary & secondary colours, Blue,Red,Yellow,Orange,Violet, and Green.

These first photos below were processed using the sliders in LR. I made virtual copies of the colour photo and then, as directed, converted to black and white and tinkered with the b&w mix sliders for each. However, I noticed that the default position of the sliders on the neutral were not all the same (not a great place from which to start a comparison so I created another “neutral” with all the slider at -35.

Neutral b&w conversion – and default sliders, and next to that the increased yellow slider as an example…

LR Neutral LR Neutral Sliders LR Increased Yellow slider

Below is the set of LR slider based conversions. Notice for that each conversion, only the colour of that slider has been affected..

A photoshop plug in called Silver Efex Pro actually does have the facility to correctly mimic the use of tradition filters and their effects so here are the results of the same photo being run through against different filters.

You can see from this that the green filter not only lightens the green background but also darkens the red chilli, and also noticeably darkens the pruple box (because of the red element making up the purple from blue). Hopefully you’ve found this post interesting.

April 20, 2013

Exercise: Colour Relationships

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p114 is in two parts. Part one is to produce photos with the following colour combinations and ratios:

  • Red & Green, Ratio 1:1
  • Orange & Blue, Ratio 1:2
  • Yellow & Violet, Ratio 1:3

I decided to make this into a little set (click them to see them larger)…

The second part is to use colour combinations that appeal to me. I’ve noticed that I tend to go for colour combinations that include blue or yellow or both.

April 2, 2013

Exercise: Primary and Secondary Colours

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Primary & Secondary Colours

Part three of the course is all about colour. I love colour photography and usually find it much more visually satisfying that black & white images so I thought this chapter would be quite easy. How wrong, it seems to be the hardest one so far! As explained in my previous post, for the last few months that I’ve been contemplating this one I’ve also been selling off all my gear, consequently I have been doing my exercises with my iPhone and so have skipped over the exercise on p107 because you need a camera with more than automatic exposure (I may well go back to this one in due course). This exercise is all about finding colours with a specific hue. Click the images below to open up the gallery….

November 20, 2012

Exercise: Rhythms & Patterns

by Suzy Walker-Toye

On p99, the last exercise for part 2 is of patterns & rhythms. Photos with Rhythm lead your eye in a pattern to a beat. And for photographs with patterns your eye can imagine the pattern continuing on out of the frame.  Following on from yesterdays post these photos of rhythms & patterns are also all from central London buildings.

There are quite a few so I’ve put them into this clickable gallery, click the images to see larger. As you can see there are some triangle influences here too…

my favourites are #1 and #9. Next to do is the assignment for this section.

November 19, 2012

Exercise: Real & Implied Triangles

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The section on shapes end with an exercise on real & implied triangles (p92). Does anyone else think of the Eddie Izzard sketch about Darth Vader eating triangular food? No? Just me then. Ok, so I went for a walk in Central London to take photos to cover this, the previous (with the Batman building) and the next exercise. As it turns out I really enjoyed taking photographs of bits of buildings! I thought they’d look better in black and white but as usual I just couldn’t part with the colour for most of them.

The one above is triangletastic, looking up into a triangular section which is reflected in the shiny windows causing even more triangles. The one below is part of a construction saw I saw on the walk to work (one of the few here not from the south bank).

The one below is also looking up and if I had been shooting with a wider focal length would have made a giant triangle so this one is an implied triangle with little real and reflected triangles in it too.

This is another looking up one, I thought the negative space of the sky made an almost implied triangle but there are other triangles by perspective in it too.

The one below is another from the 1/2 finished building. In this one the inverted triangle leads your eye down to the little worker men at the bottom. I should have taken more time over this one, the men are a little close to the edge of the frame for my liking but it was touch and go for getting to work on time at it was. This is why you should never take photos in a hurry.

And now for something completely different….

The last part of the exercise very clearly states that it has to be a photo of 3 people arranged in a group such that their faces (or bodies) make an implied triangle. Well luckily for me it did not state 3 living people! Here is a family portrait from the Acme Family Portrait Studio of my kitchen table:

November 16, 2012

Exercise: Implied Lines

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p85 is all to do with implied lines. The first part of the exercise is to find the implied lines in the photographs supplied in the coursework, to make a sketch and note down what the lines might be. I’ve done that in my physical notebook. I’ll finish up the exercise here with these photographs.

Firstly this one of the diver lighting up the corals…

This photo is actually an optical illusion. The diver swimming by happened to have his flash set on slave so when mine went off so did his. Now normally this would ruin a photograph however my flash was pointed at the corals in such a way it looks like the diver had a torch on the corals creating an implied relationship (even though in reality he was much too far away). This small version here shows the implied lines, the main arrow shows the “torch beam” effect. And the smaller implied line shows the space for the diver to swim into.

The next photo has the following implied lines. This one is less subtle with the lines of ridged sand leading you eyes from the shell to the rays, the foreground rays swimming forward and right and the background rays swimming straight right.

This guy on the front of the Duomo in Florence looks as though he’s impeaching the heavens. You follow his eye line upwards but the alcove that he’s sitting in all point inwards and the star pattern leads your eye back down to him again creating a circuit within the frame.

For the third part of the exercise was to plan and take a photograph that has these types of implied lines. I took this one of my little people in their snowy landscape. Even though the man in the foreground is blurred by the DOF your eyes still go between him & the woman in yellow because they are holding eye line and waving. The people in the background are much less dynamic so hold less interest in the composition, however they are all walking inwards keeping your attention within the frame and back to the woman again.

November 15, 2012

Exercise: Curves

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p82 is a little like the diagonals exercise but this time with curves and circles. Curves give a composition softness that sharp lines would not. I took these going along in the car with my iPhone, I like the long exposure of them and how they emphasise the fireworks shape (that usually gets burnt into your retina for a few seconds). Notice the light trails of the headlights of the cars going past.


I took this one of the “batman” building yesterday lunchtime…

My wide angle underwater lens is a fisheye lens but its ok since not many things underwater have straight lines (apart from the odd bit of shipwreck but they tend to be quite curvy too).

And of course there are lots of circular things in the sea…

November 14, 2012

Exercise: Diagonals

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Looking back over my work, I seem to use diagonals a lot. The exercise on p80 is designed to make you aware of diagonals and how they can bring dynamism to your photos. I’m not sure that I agree that there are few true diagonals apart from stairs (the rest being a matter of perceptive or angle of the camera). Clearly the author of the coursework hasn’t been to London in a while, the place is littered with buildings that are not straight with diagonals and curviness abound.

For some reason (maybe because its easier on the eyes for a western reader, I dont really know) I seem to favour the diagonal going from left to right up the image. I had a dig around to see if I could find any that were the other way around – not many I must say.

This one is a matter of perspective of a very tall building, so not something I really intended to be diagonal but without a tilt shift lens theres not much you can do about it. However, I’d still label this vertical rather than diagonal.

This one of sun rays lighting up the fish eggs is more of a radial pattern….

November 13, 2012

Exercise: Horizontal and Vertical lines

by Suzy Walker-Toye

In this exercise on p76, we are encouraged to go out and make photographs or horizontal or vertical lines. I’ve talked about this a little in my PDF log (9th Nov entry) so I wont go into too much detail. Here are some images that shows verticals and horizontals

November 12, 2012

Exercise: Random Points

by Suzy Walker-Toye

I meant to add this as part of the previous post on points as an addition photo. There were some comments in the course work on random collections of points. The points on the previous post were deliberately placed. The buttons were just chucked down until they made a pleasing arrangement in the frame.

%d bloggers like this: