Tag Archives: lighting

Final Piece Ideas 1. Portrait Experiment in the style of Lee Jeffries

How did I create these photographs.

The intention was to create human gargoyles, atmospheric partially illuminated grotesque and weird faces, or faces of unusual character.

The photographs were taken outside at night. The model was sat upon a stool, the face was illuminated with a bright torch and a red light, a reflector was used to help bounce light back on to the models face.  The model pulled faces, moved their head.  The lighting was moved around to create unnatural lighting.

The camera was mounted on a tripod to ensure stability for low light long exposure shots.  The camera was moved and positioned on the tripod around the model to get strange angles to accentuate the peculiar nature of the portraits.  The framing of the face was close to give a very tightly cropped subect of the head  and face.

The photographs were taken with a Digital SLR, once the photographs were taken, they were manipulated in Photoshop.

How I manipulated the photographs.

The colour photographs were loaded into Photoshop.  The clarity was increased to 100%, vibrance to 50%, the contrast increased to 50% or more.

The Photoshop image was adjusted to Black & White, the reds and magenta were reduced, this caused increase the reds on the face caused by veins, blushes or blotches on the skin to finally appear dark shades and black.  The use of the red light when taking the photographs accentuated the skin and red facial imperfections. The blues and cyans were increased to lighten the blue colouration and the whites around the eyes.  The colour photograph was then converted to B+W with very high contrast and strong shadows and darkened skin colouration.

The images were finally modified by using a variety of filters, Sharpen More and the filter, Smart Sharpen, the sharpen was adjusted to around 125%, radius approximately 32 pixels.

The brightness were modified and experimented with to create satisfactory images.

My Opinion

The images produced are the desired grotesque and slightly disturbing photographs.

The photographs where the model moved their face while the shutter was open are very effective, the light that is reflected in the eyes has created white streaks, the motion captured with the streaks from the face moving and the eyes of the models, the pictures look demonic.

The creative effects by the use of lighting, and editing in Photoshop have been very successful. However the images have been heavily manipulated that I have decided not to progress this idea.  The images created are caricatures too artificial, modified, adapted and too far removed from the brief of portraits.

CanonEOS 450D, 53mm focal length, ISO 400, F-Stop f/5.6, 1/4 second exposure


Canon EOS450D, 20mm focal length, ISO400, F-stop f/3.5, 1/3 second exposure


Canon EOS450D, 29mm focal length, ISO-400, F-Stop f/4.5, 1/10 second exposure


Canon EOS 450D, 20mm focal length, ISO-400, F-Stop f/3.5, 1/3 second exposure


Canon EOS 450D, 55mm Focal Length, ISO-400, F-Stop f/5.6, 1/4 second exposure


Canon EOS450D, 51mm focal length, ISO-400, F-Stop f/5.6, 1/4 second exposure


Canon EOS450D, 42mm focal length, ISO-400, F-Stop f/5, 1/20 second exposure

Girl in front of the window


How did I create this picture?

I created this picture using a medium format film roll camera. I took the picture with the model stood close to a wall and the window behind the model. The pale wall background plus the light from the window was to provide a light source and a contrast to the dark clothes worn by the model.

I used a reflector on the model reflecting the light under the models face making it brighter and reducing the dark shadows under the chin, and nose. It also illuminates the dark areas below the eyebrows. The reflector was positioned on the left side of the model to give an even light the face.

Once I took the picture I developed the negative film using developer, stopper and fix in the darkroom. I then hung the film up to dry in the dryer.

Once the film was dry I put it in the negative holder in the enlarger. I then exposed the photographic paper for 3 seconds based on experience from previous test strips for similar exposures. The print was developed using developer, stopper and fix.

How can I improve the picture?

I can improve this picture by making the model take a step to the left so that the window frame is out of shot, or I could have move the camera around slightly to the right and got the model to also move to face the camera.

I could have been more careful during the printing process, I have splashed some chemical that has shown up on the print, on the right sleeve of the model. This could be removed by guillotining the photograph to remove the blemish. There is also a mark on the top left hand corner of the print. This has occurred due to poor safe storage of the print.

What worked well in the picture?

The exposure, tones and contrast combined with good lighting, made the model stand out from the background, the use of a light background to contrast with the dark hair and clothes that frame the models face.  The reflector bounced light effectively on to the model, if it had not worked the models face would have mostly been been a silhuette.

The face is very clear and positioned in the top middle third of the photograph, the eye is drawn to focus on the face. The overall photograph is crisp and shows subtle shades of grey.

The positioning of the model against the pale wall, the use of a shallow depth of field that focuses only the model, the background is deliberately blurred with strong natural light streaming in from the window makes the background featureless so that you focus on the face of the model.

The camera and the model is approximately at the same height of the camera so that as a viewer of the photograph you can make eye contact and connect with the model.

Girl with the stripped top


How did I create this picture?

I created this picture using a medium format film roll camera. I took the picture with the model stood against a wall. The use of the wall as the background removed any potential distracting elements and features that could appear in the background.

I used a reflector on the model reflecting the light under the models face making it brighter and reducing the dark shadows under the chin, and nose. It also illuminates the dark areas below the eyebrows. The reflector throws light on then the rest of the model’s clothing so it stands more in the composition and stands out more from the wall.

Once I took the picture I developed the negative film using developer, stopper and fix in the darkroom. I then hung the film up to dry in the dryer.

Once the film was dry I put it in the negative holder in the enlarger. I then exposed the photographic paper for 3 seconds based on experience from previous test strips for similar exposures. The print was developed using developer, stopper and fix.

How can I improve the picture?

I can improve this picture by making sure that that the reflector keeps out of the shot, this would get rid of any unintentional distractions I the picture.

I can also improve this picture by enlarging the image so that the reflector is not part of the final print, or cropping, guillotining the photograph so that the reflector is not shown on the print.

What worked well in the picture?

The exposure, tones and contrast combined with good lighting, made the model stand out from the background. The photograph is crisp and shows subtle shades of grey.

The positioning of the model against the dark wall to provide a blank background contrasts against the strong outlines created by striped top.

The smile of the model is engaging. The model is approximately at the same height of the camera so that the as a viewer of the model you are at the same level, in the same eye line opposed to looking up or down into the face of the model.

Emmi by the wall


How did I create this picture?

I took this picture using a medium format roll film camera. This was to experiment with the different affects you can create with the camera. Once the camera was set up I held a silver reflector to reflect the light under the model’s face to reduce the shadows under the chin, nose and eye sockets below the eye brows of the model.

I decided to pose the model in the picture against the wall, this was to eliminate any potential distracting features in the photograph.

Once I shot all of the pictures I developed the film using developer stopper and fix, I then gave the film negative a wash under clean water, and this made sure that there were no lingering chemicals left on the negative that would eventually degrade and damage the film after a while. I then hung the film negative up to dry in the dryer.

Once the film negative was dry I put in in the enlarger negative holder. I then turned the enlarger lamp on, this was to make sure that the picture was in focus before I put my photographic paper down. I ran a test strip creating a series exposure timings on a small bit of photographic paper increasing the exposure in 3 second intervals. I then developed the print test strip in developer, stopper and fix.

What worked well?

I have created a portrait picture with smooth tones, shadow and contrast and managed reduce the very dark shadows under the model’s by using a reflector, making the face, neck and jacket appear brighter.

The composition has interest with the texture of the panelling of the wall, but it is not busy or distracting from the main portrait subject. The pose of the model wearing the jacket and her arms thrust in to the jacket pockets. The model stance looks like she has ‘attitude’.

How can I improve this picture?

There are a couple of white specs visible on the models hair. They may be dust particles that have been trapped on the negative in the enlarger, or marks on the negative. I can use compressed air to gently blow air over the negative to remove any dust on the film or in the negative.

The angle of the camera to the wall is at an angle, if the camera framing aligned the horizontal lines of the wall with the horizontal of camera frame. This would align the panels of the wall with the edges of the final print. Or I could have angled the camera slightly more so the angles are more pronounced and give a greater perspective with the panels of the wall at a sharper angle to the edge of the print.

Molly stood in front of the camera


How did I create this picture?

I created this picture using a medium format roll film camera, I set the camera up making sure that the model in the picture was in focus. I then used a reflector and positioned it to enhance the lighting on the models face, the reflector made the face look brighter making it easier to see more facial details. I then took the photograph and exposed the film.

Once the picture was taken I developed the film in the darkroom using developer, stopper and fix. I then washed the negative film under clean water this was to remove any remaining chemicals left on the film negative. Once the film was developed I hung it up to dry in the dryer.

I put the dry negative film into the enlarger. I turned on the enlarger lamp, this was to allow me to focus the image on the enlarger base plate. I then ran a tester strip stating at 2 seconds, and increased the exposure time in 1 second increments. I used the test strip as my guide as to how long I should expose the photographic paper, which was 3 seconds. Once I exposed my photographic paper I developed the print using developer, stopper and fix.

How can I improve this picture?

I can improve this picture by making sure that the negative picture is kept safe this would prevent any scratches appearing on the side of the picture. This would also stop the negative from getting dirty over time. I can also improve this photograph by making sure that there is no dust on the film or in the enlarger because the dust is projected onto the print leaving white specs on the picture around Molly’s hair.

The composition of the portrait could be improved if I had elevated the camera angle or by moving the model closer to the wall so that the horizon between the wall and ceiling cannot be seen in the shot. The background is deliberately slightly out of focus so the eye concentrates on the portrait of the model. The ceiling line cuts through the background near the top of the model’s head. The change in grey tone between the wall and ceiling almost looks like there is a problem with the exposure.

How has the picture worked well?

I believe this picture has worked well this is because I have used good overall framing making sure that there is enough head room above and either side of the person, the portrait sits well within the photograph. The portrait would also work well because I managed to make the lighting brighter on the models face by using a silver reflector making her face and the texture of her hair stand out on the photograph.

Inga looking bored


How did I create this picture?

I created this picture using a medium format film roll camera. I staged the photograph of the model near the wall. The aim of using the wall was to remove distracting elements and features that could appear in the background.

I used a light reflector to bounce the light under the models face making her face and body appear brighter so that they stand out and are clearly the main subject of the picture.

Once I took the picture I developed the film using developer, stopper and fix in the darkroom. I then hung the film negative in the dryer. Once the film was dry I put it in the negative holder in the enlarger, focused the image in the enlarger. I exposed the photographic paper for 3 seconds based on the experience of previous test strips and developed the print using developer, stopper and fix. 

What worked well?

 This photograph worked well, I have managed to create effective lighting on the face and body. The reflector was positioned so that the over cast shadows under the models chin were lightened, making it and easier to see the facial features.

Inga is wearing dark clothes and the background is also dark, there is a blending of her body to the background, this has emphasised the head, neck and V-shape of her top.

How can I improve this picture?

The photograph I have the reflector caught in the frame. I can improve this picture by making sure that the reflector doesn’t appear in the picture, either by zooming in more on Inga, or careful enlarging and cropping of the final print.

Inga is standing close to the wall, but there are still items visible in the background. The shallow depth of field has deliberately blurred them so the viewer does not focus on the items in the background.

The camera was positioned low, and is looking slightly up towards Inga’s face, because Inga is not standing immediately in front of the wall, there is a line that runs just across the top of Inga’s head where the wall and ceiling join. If I had raised the camera higher or Inga was positioned closer to the wall, this line would not have been present. This line can be a distracting element in the picture.

Studio Lighting Equipment

Softbox lighting

A softbox is an umbrella like hood that is attached around a light.  It is umbrella like in its construction, metal frame with light proof sides typically made out of fabric so that it is light in weight so easy to carry and support.  The inside of the hood is reflective to increase the brightness projected through the front.  The front of the softbox hood is covered by a diffuser, usually a white fabric.  Positioned inside the softbox is a lamp or flash that is the light source.  The lamp/flash unit with the softbox hood is mounted on a stand so that it can be positioned and adjusted to required heights.

The intention is to modify the light from the lamp or flash to give a smooth and even light spread across a wide area.  This has the effect of producing soft shadows and often used when taking portraits or photographs of people because of the softer lighting produced on a subject.


Photographic Continuous Lamp

Lamps provide a steady constant light source rather than a flash.  These can vary in strength of light and the colour or quality of the light depending on the light bulb.

A photographic lamp can be simple with just on/off switch, or can have additional controls to adjust the intensity or brightness of the lamp.  The lamp can have a reflective shade to help in focusing the light on to the subject, this can vary from being very deep or narrow to minimise light spilling out in to the whole studio, to wide and shallow shades that are intended to flood a wide area with light.

Benefit of continuous lighting is that it is easier to set up and position the lighting in the studio, you can see immediately the effect of moving or positioning the lights has, how the light levels change, the mood created, where shadows are going to be generated.

Downside of continuous lighting is that they can require a lot of electricity, require long power cables so that the lights can be positioned without the cables getting into the frame.  These cables can present potential trip hazards.  The lights can generate a lot of heat and get very hot, this can be very uncomfortable for models, and also objects being photographed can be adversely affected by the heat generated by the lamps.  There is also a burn risk.  Also when the lights are hot there is a risk that the elements can break and blow with tungsten filament bulbs.  With model and portraiture photography the bright lights will cause a model’s eye pupils to constrict and appear small, this can be an undesirable effect.  The continuous bright lights can also cause people to move their heads or partial close their eyes or screw up their faces in attempts to avoid the light.


Regular tungsten filament light bulbs when used in photography produce a warm yellow glow to a photograph, even when the light appears white.

Photoflood lights  are similar to normal light bulbs that produce a bluer light to reduce to golden glow of a normal filament light bulb.

Quartz Halogen lights although brighter than normal light bulbs, they still produce a yellow glow in a photograph.

Fluorescent lights.  Depending which gas fills the fluorescent tube different coloured white light.  Regular florescent lights create a greenish light in photographs unless ‘day light’ tubes are used.Studio_Light

LED (Light Emitting Diodes) produce a good white light, but the photographs can appear to have a cold blue light created by the LEDs.led

Manual and information for Bowens lights, including the model Bowen BW-3610 (light model used at college) http://www.wexphotographic.com/webcontent/pdf/Bowens/Bowens-freedom.pdf

Flash units.

These produce bursts of light and are synchronised with the camera shutter so that the camera opening of the shutter the flash firing occurs at the same time.

Compact Flash gun units can be mounted on top of the camera.  The down side of this especially when taking portrait photography is that because the light is in line with the camera lens and the model is usually looking towards the camera there is a very high chance of ‘Red eye’ because the bright light bounces of the back of the model’s eye, the retina.  The flash positioned close to the lens can also cause dust particles to shine and sparkle because they are in the direct path of the light, and when the light hits the dust it reflects the light back and cause ‘white’ dots to appear on the image.

On camera flash for portrait photography does not allow the photographer to position the flash to either side of the models face, so the photographs can also look ‘flat’ and the face featureless when the model’s face is looking square into the camera, there will be little or no shadow generated by the nose or the area around the sockets of the eyes.

RHS gardens Wisley ring flash help me buy

A ring flash is a flash that is placed close around the lens. The ring flash will give even lighting, reducing directional shadows that makes 3D objects appear flat, ring flash is often used in macro photography because it throws an even light around the small object being photographed. The ring flash can be used to create unusual light reflections of reflective surfaces, or in the eyes of models.


1533306Flash units mounted off the camera on light stands can be positioned where ever they are needed in the same way as continuous lighting.  A trigger mechanism will be required to synchronise the flash with the camera shutter.  This can be either cables connected from the camera directly to the flash unit(s) or by a wireless or remote trigger mechanism connected to the camera that transmits the instruction to fire, and the flash units have a receiving wireless unit to initiate the flash when the signal is received.

Flash units can be adjusted to give off different levels of light intensity, and the

Benefits of flash are that the bright lights are not on continuously, generating heat, are very bright and using electricity.  For portraiture, the lighting is not powerful so the model’s pupil of the eyes will open more, eyes with wide pupils are generally considered more attractive.

Downside of flash is that it can take longer to set up exactly where you want the lights to be positioned, because they are not on all the time, the beams and lighting effects are not always immediately obvious.  Also it is highly likely that the photographer will require a spot light meter that can take light meter readings of flash so that they can set their camera and lights correctly.

Lighting Accessories

Accessories can be attached to lights continuous or flash units.

Light stand to support the light unit.  They provide a stable support to allow the lights to be positioned where they are required and the height and angle of the light head can be adjusted.  They may have an additional boom to allow the light to reach in or across the subject.lightstand

Colour gels or filters can be placed over the lights to change the overall lighting of a subject or to change the colour of shadows cast by the subject.gelsGrills or Grids can be placed over the light.  These are intended to aid focusing the light in a direction and reduce light spilling into areas that you do not want the light to shine.gridhoneycombBarn doors flaps. These flaps are used to reduce light spilling out on to areas where you do not want light to shine and reduce flare.barndoorSnoot. A light attachment that steps down to a smaller diameter aperture for the light to shine out of.  This has the effect of producing a focused beam of light, but with soft edges.1017878Gobo A glass or metal plate which fits inside the lamp, or placed in a holder.  The Gobo has designs, shapes or words cut out so that the lamp projects the design.  Often used also used in club and disco lighting effects.


Light Bounce

Reflectors designed to reflect and bounce light when positioned under or around the model The reflector can be white, silver, gold or grey.  The choice of reflector can give the reflected light on the model different strength and light quality from bright white light with the silver reflector, white gives a cool less strong or bright reflection, grey reflector less bright reflection.  The gold reflector will give a bright a warm golden look.


Umbrellas.  There is a similar range of finishes and colours as reflectors (silver, white, gold or grey). They have a similar effect on the quality of the light and intensity that falls upon the subject or model. The studio light or flash is projected away from the subject in to the inside of the umbrella. The light bounced from the umbrella is aimed back onto the subject. The light from the umbrella softens and diffuses the light so that it is not as harsh or strong as the lights aimed directly at the subject or model.

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Light Barriers

Cookies A flat board or screen that has cut outs to allow some light to shine through to create light and shade lighting effects.  It works similar to a Gobo, but the light shapes projected are not so focused, for example they can give mottled lighting similar to light shining through the leaves of a tree, or the effect of light shining through venetian blinds.41gj1fly95l-_sy355_

Flags A screen used to stop unintentional stray spill light from getting to the camera and causing flare (unwanted light that is reflected in the lens, internal optics or the camera itself that show as light patches on a picture) or a screen to shield light from striking the subject where it is not required.  A method of keeping dark areas dark.  These can be as simple as pieces of thick card or fabric attached to a frame to more sophisticated panels that can be mounted on stands or movable or bendy arms.



Background or backdrops on paper rolls are seamless photographic background on a roll supported on two supports either side.  The backdrop paper can be pulled out and extended out on the floor so there are no hard lines between walls and floor.


creating different lighting and affects using reflectors


ISO-400, F-stop f/11, Shutter speed 1/125 second,  focal length 55mm

This series of four photographs I have used two types of reflectors, black and silver and a diffuser to show the effect these can have to illuminate a model.

Photograph 1 A black reflector was used.  A black reflector is an anti-reflector.  The use of the black reflector is to create and cast a shadow on certain areas of the subject.  For example, if the lights are producing too even a light on the model’s face, the black side of the reflector can cut out the light on one side to create more artistic shadows.

Photograph 2  The diffuser was used to reduce the strength of the light striking the models face.  It is not intended to create shadows, but to generate a more even light and reduce the effects of strong lighting such as strong contrasts between bright highlights and shadows.

Photograph 3 The silver reflector was placed low and to the right of the model’s face to bounce light back up to the models face.  It gives strong lighting to the opposite side of the face from the sun, so that the side of the face and neck that would be in shadow also have highlights showing.  The areas around the eyes are still in shadow to give contrast.  This could have been reduced if the reflector had been positioned further round to throw light more directly straight on to the face of the model.

Photograph 4. The silver reflector was positioned not as low to illuminate under the face, but angled to bounce light straight at and only slightly to the side of the models right side of their face.  This produced a more even overall lighting effect to the right side of the face.  The extreme left side and forehead are highly lit by the strong sunlight.


Using 1 light in the studio moving it around the subject

The exercise was to demonstrate the effect of positioning studio lighting when taking a portrait picture.  To show the change the lighting and the effects created when the light is moved around relative to the model.Untitled-1.jpg

20° 60° 100°
120° 180° 220°
260° 300° 340°

How I created this series of photographs

This series of 9 pictures were taken in a studio using a single softbox light with diffuser as the light source.  I placed the model facing square at the camera, her face looking straight at the lens.  The camera remained in the same place positioned on a tripod and the settings remained constant, Camera Nikon D40X, Focal length 42mm, ISO-100, F-Stop f/16, 1/60 second exposure.  I used one light positioned slightly higher than the model and moved the light around in a circle every 40° degrees to take the series of pictures.

The light positioned at 20°, 340° degrees either side of the camera gives full face illumination with slight shadows created by the nose casting a shadow, the chin creating a shadow on the neck because the light is higher the models head. The eyes in their sockets can be easily seen.  The colour of the skin flesh tones and colour of the clothes and hair are easily distinguishable.

The 60° and 300° degree light is still positioned in front of the models face.  The lighting gives a strong illumination on the side of the face putting half of the face in strong shadow.  The side of the face has highlights on the forehead, and along the centre line of the nose.  The hair is less effected by the positioning of the light because it is higher than the model projecting down. The colour of the models clothes are discernible.

The 100° and 260° degree, the lights are just behind the models shoulder.  This gives a very dramatic lighting effect, only the one side of the face part of the forehead, cheek, nose and chin catch the light and are illuminated, the remainder of the face is in shadow. The flesh tones are not very visible. There is still some ambient light from the softbox lighting that the camera has captured to show the model. The area around the eyes appear darker even with the face in shadow.  The colour of the models clothing on her shoulder can be seen.

The light from behind 120°, 220° degrees far behind the left or right of the models shoulder their face is in darkness.  The 120° and 220° degree puts a strong highlight on either side the models hair.

The light direct from behind 180° degrees puts the models face in silhouette.  The light softbox can be seen directly behind the models head.  The wisps of hair can be clearly seen with the light direct from behind.  Both shoulders show highlights because the light is shining slightly down from above the model.

In all these photographs you can see how the neutral grey background changes colour with the strength of light that hits the background and is reflected back towards the camera.


Position of camera and light softbox, with stool where the middle was positioned.

Example of a Softbox light on a stand


Reflector when taking a portrait photograph

The use of a reflector is intended to bounce light back on to the face, but with less light intensity as the originating light source.  The bounced light does not totally flatten the face and make the facial features ‘disappear’ because all the shadows are not totally removed.

The use of a strong light source in line with the camera lens straight square on to the face would remove the changes in light and dark caused by the relief shape of the face and produce a very flat featureless face.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 09.23.39.png
In these series of photographs I have used natural and artificial available light in these portraits with and without the use of a reflector.  The camera settings remained the same for all these photographs to demonstrate the difference a reflector makes.  Camera Nikon D3100, 40mm focal length lens, ISO-200, F-Stop f/5.6, I/60 second exposure.

The bottom row of photographs the faces have dark shadows on one side of the face, the facial features such as the nose and cheeks, chin and necks cause some of the face to be thrown in darkness because the light source is strong from one side. The faces have dark eyes caused by a lack of light thrown directly on to the face.

The top row of photographs I have used reflectors with the assistance of a helper to hold the reflector in position. I used a silver, gold or white reflector placed in positions to bounce some of natural light back on to the face. The intention is to throw light back on to the face or neck depending where the reflector is positioned. The reflected light is to reduce the shadows, to brighten the area around the recessed eyes, but to still keep some light and shade on the face so the facial characteristics and features and are still defined by the light shadow.

The reflector held low pointed back up to the face, to remove shadows under the chin.

If the reflector is held at approximately the head height the bounced light removes the strong shadows and highlights that can occur when a reflector is not used.

The light of the colour bounced of the reflectors changed depending on the reflector used. Silver and white reflectors gave bright reflection. The gold reflector gave a warm colour hue to the face portrait.  The white and silver reflectors give a colder light similar to the ambient quality of light colour.