Getting ready and selection: Shape - artificial light

The main goal of this assignment is to show that you've learned about lighting in this book. By using the same subject, all the focus goes to the way the subject is lit and how that affects the image. I like these kind of exercises. They ask for a lot of experimenting and getting everything just right. No luck or changing elements, it's all in my hands! 

Even before starting this chapter I had already decided to use the chair as my subject. This chair was designed by Jeremy Harvey for Artifort in 1978. It's the only item of which I hope to still have when I'm 95 years old, I absolutely love it. The color and shapes are so striking and they're not too bad to sit on either! Anyway, since its striking shape I thought it would be the perfect item and I've had a lot of fun trying to get the best out of the lighting to show what is asked for. I decided that in texture, shape and form I wanted to show the elements through natural lighting as well as through artificial lighting. 

Let's start of with shape. In the exercises on the lighting angle and types of light I had already found out that the form of a subject comes out best when it is backlit with direct light. By this there won't be many details visible and the edges stand out best. First, I thought it would be nice to try rimlight only and see if by doing so I could get only the edges lit. The results were pretty cool, although I think there is a bit too much colour visible, which might distract from the form itself. Here are two try-outs. It was difficult to get the entire chair lit. I used one led light spot, which was shining from the right side. The subject was placed in front of a black thick cotton sheet.

 

 rim light only, not completely lit

rim light only, not completely lit

 rim light, better lit, because I repositioned the lamp a bit  to the front, but not too much so that the chair would not be lit from the front and loose the effect.

rim light, better lit, because I repositioned the lamp a bit  to the front, but not too much so that the chair would not be lit from the front and loose the effect.

In the end I decided to not use these photographs for shape, because I wanted the object to be colourless and textureless and in both examples that is not the case. I do like the rim light a lot, so will send the bottom image in to show an extra effect.

So what to do next! The chair would have to be lit from the back in order to wipe out all details of the shape, colours and texture. I decided to use my off camera flash, because I know that light is the hardest and gives sharp contrast and shadows. 

 lit straight from the back with a black background, not much of a succes...

lit straight from the back with a black background, not much of a succes...

Besides almost blinding myself, I quickly learned that for shape a black background is not the best idea, If I only want to see the shape, there should be something to contrast that with, lighting from the front would be the solution, but that would still give me the problem of seeing the colour. So I thought I'd shoot the light through a white table cloth. But, first of all, the only one I had has a pattern, the white cloth reflects the light back to the back wall and diffuses the light that shines on the chair. Definitely not enough contrast to show the shape. 

 The table cloth itself reflects the light back to the back wall and diffusing the light that comes through. I should have known! Not enough contrast to the chair. 

The table cloth itself reflects the light back to the back wall and diffusing the light that comes through. I should have known! Not enough contrast to the chair. 

I needed to figure something out to get the lighting from the back, undiffused and not absorbing. So, why not flash from the side and show the shadow? 

 flash from the side

flash from the side

Because now the colour is visible and the shadows are not crisp enough to show the shape the way I want to. But, I was getting close. I decided I would flash directly at the wall, with a 35 mm zoom. By that the light would be reflected back in a direct way, giving strong shadows and not showing any of the colour and texture of the chair. It took some figuring out... 

In order to accentuate the shape even more, I upped the contrast in the picture. I also thought it would be nice to show the colour of the flash light, which I did through passing the photo through the soft light filter in Photoshop.  So again, the final result for the photo that shows shape in artificial light: 

 The final result, cropped, straightened, upped the contrast and pulled through a soft light filter.

The final result, cropped, straightened, upped the contrast and pulled through a soft light filter.