Exercise 4.4

Use a combination of quality, contrast, direction and colour to light an object in order to reveal its form. For this exercise we recommend that you choose a natural or organic object such as an egg, stone, vegetable or plant, or the human face or body, rather than a man-made object. Man-made or cultural artefacts can be fascinating to light but they also contain another layer of meaning requiring interpretation by the photographer; this exercise is just about controlling the light to reveal form.

Add the sequence to your learning log. Draw a simple lighting diagram for each of your shots showing the position of the camera, the subject and the direction of the key light and fill. In your notes try to describe any similarities between the qualities of controlled lighting and the daylight and ambient artificial light shots from Exercises 4.2 and 4.3.

For my subject I chose a Tomato, its shape would be interesting and that it would be reflective to an extent. My set up included white card in an infinity curve, tripod 2 halogen lights, toilet and greaseproof paper. I used auto white balance throughout.

I began with hard halogen light:

2443: f7.1, 1\50 sec, ISO 640, focal distance 37mm     _MG_2443 side            2443

This was shot with one light on the left side and the camera parallel to the tomato at the front. It creates shadow on the opposite side of the subject and reflected light on the facing surface. 

2445: F7.1, 1\50 sec, ISO 500 focal distance 37mm._MG_2445 both sides            2445.jpg

This was shot with a light each side and the camera parallel to the tomato at the front. There is now a softer shadow on each side and reflected light on both faces.

 2444: f7.1, 1\50 sec, ISO 400, focal distance 37mm._MG_2444 top          2444

This was shot with one light above and the camera parallel to the tomato at the front. The shadow is now dispersed but evident the most behind the subject.

2448: F7.1, 1\85 sec, ISO 800, focal distance 82mm._MG_2448 front         2448

This was shot with one light at the front and the camera at 45 degrees almost above the tomato, a changed viewpoint. I find the shadow created at the back of subject distracting, the subject lacks depth and is slightly disconnected to it – not a satisfying image.

Of these shots I found the light at the top most effective at revealing the subjects form so then attempted to change the quality of light on this set up:

2449: F7.1, 1\100sec, ISO 800, focal distance 82mm._MG_2449 top 2          2449 2450 2451

This was a retake of image 2444 (to gain an accurate comparison with what would follow), and was shot with one light above and the camera parallel to the tomato at the front. The shadow is hard and the reflected light strong.

 2450: F7.1, 1\50sec, ISO 800, focal distance 82mm.

_MG_2450 top tp

As before but with toilet paper used under the light to diffuse it. This softened the light, the shadow and the reflected light on the subjects face.

2451: F7.1, 1\50sec, ISO 800, focal distance 82mm._MG_2451 top gp

As before but with natural not bleached greaseproof paper used under the light to diffuse it. Surprisingly the shadow is not softened as much as the previous shot and the reflected light slightly stronger. I think that this is the most effective at revealing the form of the tomato, as it maintains a sharp image with a low colour cast and a pleasing shadow and reflected light that I think enhances its form.

 My Learning:

I have much to learn about indoor lighting, however from what I know at this stage I would first consider the direction that I give artificial light in order to create a shadow and reflected light on the side and surface that I want it to be. I would next consider carefully the quality of the light that I’m using to create the effect that I am looking for.

 I have learnt that flat lighting from the front decreases tonal variation and depth in a subject and that top and side lighting is more revealing. However I now realise that I should try a lighting position between the side\top and front (three quarters lighting) (Hunter et al, 2015,p 108) to see if this reveals more of the subjects form. I should also experiment more with fill lighting.

 I should also experiment with qualities of lights other than halogen and the effects of changing the white balance. With larger lights I would be able to move the light source further away to create harder shadows if needed.

 The obvious difference between ambient artificial light shots and controlled lighting is that you can completed control the quality and direction of the light to create a desired effect, rather than having to balance or use ambient light to the best effect. With controlled light unlike ambient or daylight it can be maintain or change at will.


Hunter, F, Biver, S, Fuqua, P (2015). Light Science and magic, an introduction to photographic lighting. Abingdon. Focal Press.