Exercise: Experimenting with light

For this exercise, I enlisted the help of a friend, Nina, who had modelled for me before. I decided on two different locations with varying light situations – my living room and a nearby park. I used a couple of modifiers, a reflector and diffuser.

I have picked four images which I think show different lighting effects. The first image uses the window light in my living room.


I had the subject sat in a chair facing the window. I used my incident meter for the skin tones, and then underexposed by 1 stop. This blacked out the background wall (which is white but I think reflects the light as grey on film). I used my 6×6 camera for this shot, as I like the strong off centre compositions you can achieve with this format. The strongest point of this shot for me is the strength of the pose, which perhaps is not the most feminine pose. I think it emphasises the high contrast look of the shot. Perhaps the weak point is the loss of detail in the shadow areas, although I don’t think this compromises the impact of the image.

The second photograph is also in my living room. I had the subject placed on the wall in front of a piece of white drawing paper pinned to the wall. The window was to her right and a reflector placed to her left, at a 45 degree angle. I opted for my digital camera so I could test the results better.



I had the strong window light balanced by the reflector on her left which helped fill out some of the shadows on her left side. This achieved a more even exposure on her face than what I had been getting without the reflector. In Lightroom I used the adjustment brush to blow out the background to a more pure white. I like the results, more of a conventional headshot, but satisfying to know that I achieved it with minimal gear.

For the next shot, I had the subject sit under a diffuser. This modifier helped spread an even light over her body producing a satisfying glow that is particularly nice in black and white.


The final image was taken in the same park under some trees.


Unfortunately, the day had become quite overcast by this point. There wasn’t a great deal of difference between the light under the canopy of the trees and the light outside. I think on a different day with different weather (i.e. a sunny, clear day) I would have had found it easier to find variable light. With the locations I chose beforehand, I was quite limited by the weather conditions. Perhaps if I had allowed for overcast weather and selected an additional location, I might have been able to get more varied shots.

Exercise: Experimenting with light

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