Friday, March 4, 2016

Eggsellent Lighting Exercise

By Dave Beaton

Our final semester has kicked off with a blaze that’s meant to harden us in the fires of photographic combat by challenging our lighting skills and thus preparing us for a life out from under the wings of our dauntless professors. Along with the courses that require the use of our beloved cameras, we’re also provided with the juicy knowledges of writing for media, courtesy of our fantastic English teacher, the lovely, intelligent and wise Erica Kelly. It doesn’t end there folks: we’ve also been blessed with the networking wisdoms of Petro Tiahur, our web and social media fundamentals professor (thanks for helping to fix my camera and not being mad when I busted yours). We’re also being taught about the business side of the art in The Business of Photography with Richard Beland, while refining our style in Portfolio Development and Design and Style with Dave Chidley.
All right, I suppose that’s enough updating and ego servicing for one blog; onto the main content of this post. During our first week of class we were charged with the seemingly simple task of making 5 images of an egg on a white background. The idea of the project was to get us back into the swing of things by challenging our lighting abilities. In each photograph we had to use a different lighting style/technique: soft light, side light, modified and two creatives of our choosing. The key components to selectively and creatively lighting a subject generally go as follows:the quality of light (softness/hardness) is relative to the size and distance of the light source relative to the subject. An equally important factor is the photographer’s ability to control shadows via the use of gobos/flags. These are objects that are used to block light in select areas, allowing the photographer to have better control over perceived depth in an image.
Soft White-on-white photography by Dave Beaton
Soft light ended up being one of the hardest to pull off, this is because we are lighting white egg on a white background, but still want to maintain detail in the egg. However it helps a lot if you’ve got yourself a giant octobank, a light meter and are a wizard with your trusty gobos (presuming you can figure out how to use these). I was lucky enough to have some nifty equipment at my disposal. I’m not much of a wizard with the gobos and I’m certainly not the best at lighting a subject (yet), but I took a whack at it. To the Right is a photo of my soft lit egg on white, coupled with a photo of the set-up. 


P.S. you don’t need the pieces of equipment I listed. Use what you’ve got available. In the end it’s the person that makes the difference, not the gear. Apologies for being a bit cliché, but it is true.
Side lit egg, photo by Dave Beaton
Next up was side lighting. With limited time I decided to go with another one light set-up, which didn’t create the most powerful image, but I found it to be effective. The saving grace was the use of a small bounce card that was hidden just outside of my frame. That beautiful little sucker did its best to reflect some light on the right side of the egg, creating a bit of separation from my background. Note to self: try a bit harder next time. If only I was able to communicate this advice to myself earlier.
I was hoping to gather more photos from classmates, but it seems that you my dear readers must suffer yet another one of my masterpieces. 

Modified light on an egg, on a white background,  Photo by Dave Beaton
The third photo we were tasked with creating was a modified lighting photo,meaning we were to use different objects to create interesting light. We could use whatever we wanted and for the sake of availability I chose to use a sushi roller. It was an attempt at an homage to some social media trendy striped lighting photograph. I didn’t pull it off as well as I had hoped, but at least I gave it the old college try.

Creativity is in the air.  Photo by Teresa Perry
For the fourth image, one of my gracious and amazing (ego stroking continues) classmates, Theresa Perry, gave me a really amazing photograph. For this section of the challenge, we were encouraged to get creative, to use props and create a juxtaposition. We were given full creative control except that we were not allowed to destroy our egg, indulging in sweet vengeance. Theresa decided to use a floral-like prop (I have no idea what this pink thing is, I’m sorry Theresa), coupled with a shot glass which would support her egg, creating an interesting visual separation. Using a fill light shot directly at the ceiling, she was able to wash her scene in an abundance of high key light. The coupling of a snoot (a directional light modifier) aimed toward the subject matter helped to create added dimension. Finally, as a final punch she removed the shot glass from the image altogether. The final result, I find, is quite stunning and I’m jealous. Good work Theresa.

This assignment was all it was cracked up to be! Photo by Devon Groombridge
Finally for the fifth and final image, we were allowed to break our egg…The photo I would like to showcase is a simply lit yet powerful photo. Classmate Devon Groombridge carefully broke her egg into two pieces and left them to dry. Afterwards she pierced a hole in the top portion of her eggshell and fastened it to a fishing line, which was aptly fastened to assistant Teresa’s finger. The top portion of the eggshell was dangled overtop of the bottom portion of the egg, where it was then photographed. Akin to Teresa’s image, Devon used Photoshop to remove the fishing line from the picture, creating a neat levitation effect. The image was lit using a single light source, which effectively demonstrates the ability to create an interesting image with minimal resources. Bravo Devon, keep it up.

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