Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Exercise: Creating depth with lighting

Objective: To create at  least three images giving distinctly different impressions of depth in the same space.
Using my small sitting room I have experimented with the effects of using different combinations of room lighting, basically by turning lights on and off, zooming in and out and looking at the effects.
I produced this contact sheet to work from, enabling me to select the most suitable images.

My first useful shot was a wide angle with two areas of lighting; the back wall and a table lamp on the desk. The laptop screen is lit. I can see a distinct separation between the mid ground and the back ground. Although the room is rectangular and the photograph is taken along the room, the camera position and the wide angle make the room seem square. There is one more light out of shot to the right, lighting the right side of the table and the floor. (The camera was mounted on a tripod in the same position for all of the subsequent shots. I’ve used my DSLR to record these images.)

Keeping the same camera position and angle of view, I switched off the background light at left and the light at mid right  to give a greater separation of the two lit areas. This combination has produced a diagonal movement, making the room seem wider and as there is no light on the ceiling it has reduced the apparent height of the room.

For this shot I killed the lights in the background and to the right, leaving just the desk lamp to illuminate the scene. I zoomed in on the desk from the same camera position. Depending on the effect required, varying the exposure would make the dark background more visible. On my monitor I can see twilight just below the curtains and the shape of the lampshade just left of centre. Sufficient to show there is something there. The scene itself now looks a bit cluttered. The spill from the table lamp highlights the globe and the CD rack and  the long focal length has compressed the scene markedly. (The blue cast from behind the camera in this scene comes from an un-curtained window behind me – dusk, overcast evening light)

This is the zoomed out version of the previous shot with the “mid” scene lit from the right as well as the table lamp. The back ground in now more distinct but not distracting. The light from the right  gives a more open feel to the scene.

Finally, I switched off the “mid” scene lights and fully lit the background with the table lamps and the ceiling lights. This has the effect of pushing the rear of the scene back, making the room appear longer rather than square. The lit computer screen maintains a focal point for the mid ground while the foreground is rendered insignificant by the low light level.

Conclusion: I have made a lot of images and tried a lot of combinations of lights. I think I have demonstrated how to create depth using lighting. Like all photographic lighting, each situation requires a unique approach. I am becoming aware of how lighting is used to create space, atmosphere, colour, shape and simply as part of the composition of a frame.

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