Summary of learning from Part 4 : Light

Summary of learning from Part 4: Light

The exercises in part 4 seemed to be endless to me.  I became aware quite early on that I was taking a rather mechanical approach and so made a conscious effort to free myself from this by, yes, doing the exercises, but also attempting to inject more creativity show improvements I’d made as time passed.

I’m just about to write-up the Assignment and so thought this would be a good  time to identify learning from the exercises.

Exercise 1 and measuring light

  • Some underexposure works well on flowers and foliage as it brings out the colour.
  • Over-exposure (and consequent clipping) affects the sharpness of an image so it’s best to use spot exposure metering on brighter parts and then deal with the shadow detail in processing.
  • If the highlights are too clipped then playing around with exposure in adobe CR won’t bring back detail that wasn’t there in the first place..
  • Large extremes of contrast are difficult. You either have to decide which is more important and expose accordingly or use bracketing.  Exposure fusion can work quite well if you’ve used a tripod and don’t alter the position of the camera.
  • I made life complicated for myself by using several different, new, lenses. Getting used to them diverted some attention away from the purpose of the exercise.

Exercise  2 – Higher and lower sensitivity

  • Longer lenses need a higher shutter speed if they’re going to be hand-held, which often means using a higher ISO and the risk of more ‘noise’

Exercises 3 and 4 – Colour temperature

  • Auto white balance provides varying temperatures which might be more appropriate than using the different WB settings which give standardized temperatures.

Exercise 5: Light through the day

  • Realisation that I do tend to take a lot of photographs in the middle of the day .
  • Shadows can create more interesting compositions.
  • Make sure to check all my settings.

Exercise 6 – Sun low in the sky

  • I prefer the quality of the light in the  late afternoon as the colours are more intense and I can use shadows creatively.

Exercise 7 – Cloudy weather and rain

  • The effect of rain deepens colours, detail and texture.
  • I love rainbows

Exercise 11 – The lighting angle

  • Backlighting shows more of the shape of the subject
  • Raised flash or light coming from 45 degrees overhead at the side are best at showing the form of the subject.
  • It’s not good to use flash on Alabaster because it seems to pass right through it.

Exercises 12 to 14 – Photographic lighting

  • I prefer the use of natural light wherever possible.
  • I need more practice to build my confidence in using photographic lighting – probably a day workshop would be good and more intensive for me.
8th December 2011


Part 4: Light – Exercise 12 to 14: Contrast and shadow fill, concentrating light and shiny surfaces.

Part 4 : Light

Project – Photographic Lighting

Exercises 12 to 14 : Contrast and shadow fill; concentrating light and shiny surfaces

Even at an early stage the exercises in Part 4 seemed to be going on for ever to me. I was starting to feel quite burdened by them, in fact by the idea of having to do any exercises on the Course at all. I had completed many of the exercises but felt reluctant to get down to the task of writing them up and editing the photographs. I wanted to be outside and enjoying the good weather whilst we still had it! Additionally, I had become interested in film cameras and acquired two that I wanted to experiment with (this will be a later post).

By the time of writing up Exercise 5 (Light through the day) I had decided I needed to record this differently – documenting the basic exercises briefly and then using later images to evaluate how I was absorbing the learning. I felt much freer from doing that until I reached this current Project.

My preference for hand-held camera work, and the use of natural light, is a combination of two main factors. – I like to be spontaneous and technical aspects still cause me anxiety.  The moment can be lost by the time I’ve struggled to put up the tripod. And even the thought of doing it seems such a palaver even though, now, I can put it up much more quickly. Then there are external flash units, light meters and all the other paraphernalia that can go with them. They make me feel practically inept (both literally and figuratively).

I made another new decision. I would focus on the subject this time, although obviously keeping the exercises in mind, and then see how the different techniques applied.  I also had in mind some possible subjects for the Assignment so wanted to use the exercises to explore these possibilities. Additionally, my tutor had suggested that I look at the work of Edward Weston (his pepper) and also Mapplethorpe’s Flower images. I will write about these later in a separate post, but these became a part of the exercises as well.

I worked with different subjects on different days so will comment chronologically, endeavouring to link with the exercises/Handbook pages where appropriate.

Japanese Ivory figurine

I used different combinations of  natural daylight; built-in flash; overhead ceiling light; tracing paper as diffuser; reflector/diffuser and a torch.  I used a black velvet background. With the figurine on a stool in front. The following images show a few of the results:-


This was taken in daylight with curtains drawn. f/14 @ 2”. There are no shadows, but you can still see some detail and the ivory colour comes out well.


With built-in flash, which created shine on the surface. I used a small diffuser as well but it made no difference.

Next I used overhead lighting (tungsten) with diffused flash and gradually stopping down, which gave longer shutter speeds, in attempt to get the exposure just right,  Auto and tungsten  white balance made the ivory white; flash balance made it yellow and fluorescent balance made it pale pink.


I experimented more with contrast and shadow fill (Handbook, p. 135), this time wanting to create more shadow, which I thought might show better if the background was white. I was using side flash and a dark card opposite here but decided there was too much shadow,  so experimented to begin to show some texture on the figurine:


You can start to see the inlaid pattern on the dress. However, I decided that a white background wasn’t good here to then begin to experiment with form and went back to the black velvet.


Here form, shape and detail/texture are beginning to come together. I noticed with using the flash though that there was a more yellow colour and altering it also changed the colour of the background. I was also beginning to wonder whether the figurine might be too slender to show the extent of form I was looking for.  Using remote flash was more complicated in terms of anticipating the results and working out exposures.  I wondered whether I’d be better working with continuous lighting. I also turned to a different figurine which had much less ivory.

Wood/Ivory figurine


A small lightbox at the back of the figure with a diffuser in front of it.

(7) and (8)


Tracing paper in front of the Lightbox to see how different this was from using a diffuser.


Back to a black background with an led torch to cast more light on the kimono to show the patterns (p.136).

Roman bust

I still kept hankering after natural light so decided to see if I could create similar effects.


Sun behind – outdoors. It looked flat somehow.

(11) and 12


Sun on the left – outdoors.  More interesting – showing shape and form

(13) and (14)


In the conservatory, so light is more diffused, with black background. I introduced more light and colour introduced, but there was too much light and it looks blown-out. There’s shape but it looks more like a cut out. F/11 wasn’t enough to get sharpness in the beads. 


Indoors towards dusk, choosing shadows. It could have been an interesting effect if the shadows had been  a different shape. That’s the trouble with natural shadows – they don’t go where you’d like them to go!


These are just a selection from the many photographs and I haven’t included all the subjects.  I think I probably got a bit too carried away with experimenting.  Even so, I now had an idea of the effects of the various forms of lighting but still preferred natural light whilst knowing that it was difficult to produce all the effects I might be looking for. Continuous lighting might be a better alternative at the moment. I had made a comment on Flickr about lighting and one of my contacts kindly  send me some information about his set-ups. I decided not to use the bust for the assignment but to look for something smaller but with sufficient colour, detail and texture. If it was a smaller size I could utilize my light tent with various additions so I would have better control of lighting.

2nd December 2011

Part 4 : Light – Exercise 10 and 11 : Softening the light and the lighting angle

Part 4 Light

Project – Photographic Lighting

 Exercise 10 : Softening the Light

I’ve recently bought a set of reflectors, including a diffuser as well.  I can borrow my husband’s fabric soft-box as well (it’s a bit fiddly and liable to fall-off though!). For this exercise I just used the inbuilt camera flash and then a small diffuser fitted onto it.


Straight Flash. f/16 @0.3 ISO 100


Diffused Flash: f/16 @0.3 ISO 100

The Handbook states that the exposure settings will be different (p. 131) but they are the same. The RGB histograms are different though – straight flash gives R216, G58 and B94 whilst diffused gives R160, G0 and B36.

I can’t see much difference although the diffused flash version does give a softer image.

Exercise 11 – the Lighting Angle

I used a small alabaster statuette of Nefertiti for this exercise. Again I used the camera flash with diffuser fitted and went through all the different positions suggested. Here are some of the results:-


Flash in front. Good profile but it looks flat somehow.


From the side. The alabaster looks more translucent with more form to the head but there is light glare as well.

I then got very caught up in using reflectors  from various angles to see if I could bounce the light away and reduce the glare.


This was the best result, by which time I was also using a remotely operated flash unit and having help from my husband with holding the reflectors.:-


Flash raised 45 degrees at the side.  To me this starts to add a more mysterious atmosphere and the head also seems to stand out more from the background.


The above was taken from behind to one side at 45 degrees. It looks like the head of a foetus in the womb. Not a good angle for the statuette.


Behind, to one side, but not at an angle.  This view brings out more of the colour in the statuette.


The shape of the head is more dramatic shown from directly behind.


No. 4 was the best (flash raised 45 degrees at the side) at showing more form. No. 7 provides more drama to the image and shows shape. I prefer this one for this particular subject. In retrospect I don’t think that the statuette was a good subject to use with flash, even diffused.  I think use of natural daylight would be better as it would have a softer effect.


30th November 2011

Part 4 : Light – Exercise 9 : Outdoors at night

Part 4 : Light

Project – Available Light

Exercise 9 : Outdoors at night

The photographs for most of this exercise were taken during a Night Photography workshop some time ago in London. It was tiring having to carry a tripod as well as all my camera paraphernalia plus trains and underground journeys.  However, I was pleased with the results as it wasn’t as difficult as I’d anticipated.  I felt much safer being in a small group whilst carrying expensive equipment around at night. I used ISO 100 for all the images and so used a tripod with cable release.

One of the first ones I took at 7pm. f/11 @0.4.  I got hung up at first at being on manual and making sure it was a good exposure – not really having taken on board that it needed to be balanced in the best way for the scene. The workshop leader couldn’t understand why I was worrying so much about highlight clipping! The sun was just setting and, as the Handbook suggests (p. 127) Tower Bridge appears much more clearly with the hint of light.

f/9 @2.0. The skyline is less distinct against the dark blue sky.

Once on Tower Bridge itself the workshop leader suggested I try 8 seconds @ f/11.

First attempts at light trails from the cars

I then set the tripod up at the side of the Bridge overlooking the other bank.

The sky was very dark by now at around 8.15pm.

Last week I went to my grandson’s school to their outdoor ‘Enchanted Enclave’. The children had to take torches/lanterns. They sang songs to us first and then each had a fairytale book to take to read with their guests. I didn’t think it appropriate to take my large camera and mainly I just wanted to enjoy it all. I couldn’t resist taking a couple of shots with my compact Ricoh though which I left on Program with auto white balance.  The lighting was from a wind-up lantern and torch which give a white light.  The exposure could have been much better as there is loss of detail on the book, but it was the atmosphere I liked. The auto white balance gave 6250K.  The flash WB in Photoshop is 5500 and shade is 7500. I adjusted the images to shade because it seemed the best.


29th November 2011

TAOP Part 4 : Light – Exercise 8 : Tungsten and fluorescent lighting

Part 4 : Light

Project – Available Light

Exercise 8 – Tungsten and fluorescent lighting

I have only done a part of this exercise so far, so will add to  it in time. To begin with I have looked at the differences made by fluorescent lighting.

This is the room where my morning drawing class is held (a local village hall) and the fluorescent lighting gives poor light actually as well as in a photograph.  I found myself wanting to add more clarity in the photograph just as I want to add a more natural light when I’m in the room!

This was with the compact Ricoh on program mode and it gave ISO 400 @ 1/124 f/2.5. Auto-white balance gave a temp of 4000K.

I altered this in Photoshop to Fluorescent  which gave 3800K so pretty similar and this gave the most realistic colour quality to me. I tried the other settings as well but they looked even more odd.


I also took a photograph in the town centre as twilight was just falling.

Again on Program f/1.9 @ 1/100 with auto while balance which gave 5350 (almost the daylight setting in Photoshop). The natural light outside looks reasonably okay, although a trifle dull, but the fluorescent lights in the Keelans shop look very orange.

I then changed the white balance in Photoshop to the fluorescent setting (3800K):-

The fluorescent lights in the Keelans shop now look more natural but the natural light outside is very blue.

In this kind of situation you obvious have to make a decision as to which white balance setting is best utilised, depending on the subject.  Another way round it might be, for instance, to take a picture like the above using auto or daylight white balance but then, in Photoshop to do a copy utilising fluorescent white balance. The two could then be combined.


29th November 2011

Part 4: Light – Exercise 7: Cloudy Weather and Rain

Part 4:  Light

Exercise 7 : Cloudy Weather and Rain

As I’ve been posting this blog I’ve been listening to Elbow – their performance in Manchester Cathedral recently. Great sound and I love their music (even though they’re from Lancashire!).

The Exercises

The clouds were drifting fairly quickly and I wanted to capture the difference this made to the top of the trees. Both at f/11 with the cloudier one at 1/40 and the sunnier one at 1/13, These are different trees which probably explains the difference in f/stop. The time was around 2.30pm.

The next two are 2.45pm – the same trees this time.

f/ll @ 1/8. It looks quite dull and I can see the blueness in the ground.

f/11 @1/13. The sun is lighting up the trees and the shadows are more definite.

The next three photographs were taken on overcast days on different dates and in different locations.

Here comes the rain

It was pouring down outside and I wanted to capture the raindrops. One thing I learned about rain is that you it’s difficult to see it on a photograph unless it’s against something – windows, car windows etc, or . I didn’t ahve to get myself or my camera wet either because I could take the photograph from inside the conservatory.

It had just stopped raining here and I love the way that the colours of flowers are intensified.

This is one of a set I took the other day when I was driving back from a meeting just before twilight.  I only had my small Ricoh GDR3 with me but it’s captured the rainbow (and a little of it’s twin). I don’t think the man in the car behind me was too pleased when I stopped but I was thrilled. I think rainbows are one of Nature’s miracles even though I’ve never found the pot of gold!

8th November 2011

Part 4: Light – Exercise 6: Variety with a low sun

Part 4 : Light

Exercise 6: Variety with a low sun: Project – The time of day

Auto white balance was used on all the images.

Around 8am on 2/7/2011


Fontal lighting                                      Side lighting

        Back lighting

The sun was bright, even at this time in the morning.  I can also see some edge lighting on the tree stump.

Around 4pm 22/10


Frontal lighting                                    Mainly frontal lighting


Side lighting                                              Side lighting

I prefer the quality of light in late afternoon as the colours are more intense. With the frontal lighting the light is even and so it aids clarity and sharpness.  There is more atmosphere though when shadows are included. I had wanted to take a photograph of the shop front for a few days but every  time I passed by there was a car parked in front.  This time, as it was getting nearer to closing time, the main street was less busy and so I was fortunate to get a clearer view of the pumpkin display. I’ve just emailed a copy of the image to the shop as I thought they might be interested in having it – the first time I’ve every done anything like that.

   Back lighting

The sun was shining straight through the flowers which are along the border wall of the Village Hall.   I didn’t bracket the exposures, mainly because I didn’t have my tripod handy and also there was frequent traffic so I had to be careful on timing.  Later, in Photoshop, I reduced the exposure by one and a half stops and also increased the blacks to provide more definition on the flowers.  There is a hint of edge lighting as well which shows up particularly on the yellow flowers.

I took the next photograph earlier in October.  It had been a sunny Autumn day and, as I stepped from the conservatory into the kitchen  I could see the low sun shining through the doorway and casting shadows against the jug of flowers.

Side lighting 2/10/11

This is my favourite image of this series and, generally, I do like the effect of shadows.

5th November 2011

Part 4: Light – Exercise 5: Light through the day (Project the time of day)

Part 4 : Light

Project – The time of day

Exercise 5: Light Through the Day

I’d read quite a way ahead and so I took most of the photographs  for this exercise way back in June.   It’s only now that I’m settling down to reflect upon them. I’ve been going through a more acute phase of loss of confidence in myself as a photographer and being confused as to what I want to achieve from the Course. My attitude towards the exercises hasn’t helped either. My logic knows they’re there to aid my learning and increase my skill, but my inner child takes me back to being 10 years old and having to practise at the piano whilst my friends were playing outside. I gave up the piano when I was 11 but I don’t want to give up the Course.

Thankfully, I’ve gone through a sea change over the past week or so, helped by Course colleagues who’ve acknowledged that they’re going through this same kind of process. It’s been good to affirm that I’m not on my own and it’s a natural part of the learning curve. I intend to write about the exercises in a different way this time by documenting them first and then using later images to evaluate how I’ve absorbed the learning into my practice.

14th June 2011

For me, this exercise needed a day when I didn’t have much else to do and could keep returning to the same spot.  In the interests of expediency I chose our back garden. Most of the garden faces south but there are several trees around the edges which cast shadow. The garden at the side on the right doesn’t get sun until the afternoon. But it’s then blocked by the neighbour’s trees.  The bright sunlight and dark green trees, combined with lighter flowers make exposure complicated.  I’ve been using manual mode most of the time now in attempt to get the right balance.

All of the photographs were taken at ISO 100 except for No, 10 which was ISO 200. and I used auto white balance, with evaluative metering mode except for No. 8.  I think that was because I forgot to change the setting after I’d been somewhere else to take some other photographs!  I was interested to note that the colour temperature stayed at between 4250K and 4750K throughout on this sunny day except for No. 10 taken at 20.42pm when it was 6700K.

No. 1 was taken when I was walking back from the greenhouse at the side of the house. You can see the trees and the light of the early morning sun in the middle.

No 1. 8.40am                                                                                        No. 2 – 8.47am     


No. 3 – 9.29am                                                                                No. 4 – 11.40am 


No. 5 – 12.27pm                                                                              No. 6: 14.22pm


No. 7 – 15.55pm                                                                         No. 8 – 18.17pm


No. 9 – 19.40pm                                                                          No. 10 – 20.42 pm


I find No. 1 the most interesting because I was standing in the shadow of the house in the early morning sun,  and looking from dark into light. As the day goes on and the earth moves around the sun I can see the shadows lengthen until, by the end of the day, there are no shadows at all in this part of the garden. I had framed to avoid the sky and see how the light was falling so now I will look at some later images where I was dealing with light, shadow and sky.

No. 11 – 1st August 2011 at 13.43pm

Wisley RHS Garden on a hot, sunny day. f/11.0 @ 1/80 ISO 100. Manual exposure on evaluative metering. There was enough blue in the sky not to create highlight problems. 

No. 12 – 15th October 2011 at 13.53pm

Claremont Landscape Garden. Another very sunny day in early Autumn. f/11 @1/80.  ISO 400. This was taken at 80mm focal length and with manual exposure. I had a polarizer filter fitted and had to go up to ISO 400 to gain sufficient speed to balance the focal length and avoid camera shake.  When I looked at the metadata I realised that I had used spot metering. Why?! Because I had used it for the previous photograph, where I had focused on someone’s leg, and had forgotten to change the metering mode.

No. 13 – 20th October 2011 12.51 pm

The Garrison Church of St Barbara at Deepcut, Surrey. Built in 1901 of corrugated iron (then considered an advanced building material.

I had been to a meeting and got slightly lost.  As I was driving along trying to find a parking place to set up my satnav I saw the Church. The sun was pouring down on its whiteness, from the side and I just had to stop and take a photograph.  I always have my small Ricoh GDR3 in my bag, set on program.  It was actually very hard to see the image in the LCD screen because the reflected light was so bright.  I want to go back at some point,  and a different time of day, to take some more photographs from a different angle, as the one shown in the web-site link is taken wide-angle slightly from one side and is so much better than this! That’s if I can find it again!

Learning Points

There is a comment in the Handbook (p. 117) stating that “Most casual snapshots are taken some time around the middle of the day, between mid-morning and mid-afternoon….this is an undemanding time of day to shoot”.  That stung a bit, because I have to admit that a lot of my photographs are still taken in the middle of the day even though I know that the light isn’t always at its best.  I can see from the series of ‘through the day’ that shadows can create more interesting compositions and I must make more effort to go out at either end of the day.

Another major learning point is to make sure to check all my settings. Image No. 12 was at some distance; has a lot of green tones and was a general scene so the spot-metering probably wasn’t too crucial but it could have been.

I know I’ve ended with an image taken on program but I do now mainly use manual setting on my larger Canon and feel much more confident with it.

26th October 2011

Part 4: Light – Exercise 3 and 4: Judging Colour Temperature

Part 4 : Light

(Project – The colour of light)

Exercise 3 and 4 : Judging Colour Temperature

I was interested to read about the colour of light. Mainly because I have never thought of light in that way as I think more in terms of bright, misty, gloomy and dark.  I have certainly not thought of  sunlight as being colourless or ‘white’. To my eyes when the sun is very bright everything looks ‘washed out’. I suppose it’s the same thing with different terminology.  I certainly know now when it isn’t a good idea to take particular photographs because of the quality of light. How is it though that bright sunlight on a day in England ‘washes out’ colours and leads to risk of highlight clipping whereas that happens much less often in the Mediterranean countries for example?

I own more than one camera and can also see how the different cameras produce images with slightly different colouring.  My Canon seems to produce images which are warmer  and more earthy in tone whereas my little Ricoh produces images which have more of a blue tinge. I’m now thinking that must be due to the way in which the different sensors capture the quality of light. I understand about wavelengths and the scattering of light as I’m reading it but my mind keeps resisting the explanation.  I like the sky to look blue. It makes it more vivid and immediate than seeing it as scattered wavelengths. Still I now have an explanation for my grandson when he asks, “Why is the sky blue?” – a question that most children seem to ask at a certain age.

My Canon 500D has 7 seven standard white balance settings. I looked at the manual  but this doesn’t give me the actual colour temperature settings for each one so I looked on the web.

  • Auto White Balance evaluates the scene and decides the most appropriate white point. The system can be fooled if there is an abundance of one colour or no actual white for the meter to use as a reference. This results in an image with a colour cast. I’m thinking that this could well apply to landscape photography, particularly in Spring and Summer.
  • Daylight – for bright sunshine with a balance for a colour temperature of around 5,200K. this is slightly cooler than noon sunlight but works best for the greatest part of the day.
  • Shade – the colour temperature is higher (bluer) and usually around 7,000K. Setting most suited to areas of light shade rather than very heavy shadow.
  • Cloudy or hazy – sets a colour temperature of around 6,000K and best used on days when the sun is behind the clouds, creating a very even and diffuse light.
  • Tungsten – assumes a colour temperature of around 3,200 and suitable for most tungsten lamps normally emitting a yellow light.
  • Fluorescent – set for around 4000K. However there are six types of fluorescent light, each with a different temperature. They also emit an interrupted spectrum with peaks over quite a wide range and also change over time, gradually altering the colour temperature of light they emit.
  • Flash – is a very white light with a colour temperature around 6,000K.

There are two further settings which give total control:-

  • Custom white balance – you tell the camera which area in the scene is supposed to be white.
  • Kelvin – You set the colour temperature in degrees Kelvin and may be the best setting to use if you have a separate colour temperature meter. Test shots will be needed to calibrate the colour.

I’ve been shown how to set custom white balance but it hasn’t sunk in yet! It’s a relief to know that, in most photography, there’s no need to be exact about colour temperature and it’s enough, “to know when the light is not white, and if only by a little or by a lot”. (p. 114 Handbook.)  I mainly use auto white balance but sometimes I have switched the white balance setting. I’ve also altered it in Photoshop using the white balance dropper in ACR  and/or altered the temperature and tint sliders.

Exercise 3

Three photographs of the same subject, at different times of the day and using the daylight white balance setting.

No. 1: Full sunlight during the middle of the day

f/8 1/60 ISO 100 Taken at 1.26pm

No. 2: Shade in the middle of the day

f/8 ¼ ISO 100 Taken at 1.29pm

No. 3: In sunlight when the sun is nearer the horizon

f/8 1/6 ISO 100 Taken around 6.20pm

Image No. 1 is the purest in terms of colour and I can see how the fountain gets bluer as the days goes. The grass looks much greener as well – almost unreal. I can’t see any orange in image No.  3 though.  I’ve checked the colour temperature which is 4900 K for each of the images which is the daylight setting temperature on my camera and so slightly less than 5,200K.

Exercise 4

Three further images at the same times of day but varying the  white balance setting – daylight, shade and auto. 

Full sunlight during the middle of the day (around 12.46pm)

Slight noise reduction and sharpening used.

No. 4: Daylight WB (4900K)

No. 5: Shade WB (6350K)

No. 6: Auto WB (4200K)

The statue had the sun shining full onto it and the shadow at the back is from a small tree which is behind and to the right of it. At Shade WB the image is too yellow. There isn’t a lot of difference between No. 4 and No. 6 and I can’t decide which one I prefer. These images were taken on 2nd October and I decided to experiment by using a similar image taken  on 16th September, around 1.26pm,  using Auto WB. I altered the settings to daylight and shade WB  in ACR:-

No. 7: ACR Daylight WB setting in ACR

No. 8: Shade WB setting in ACR

No. 9: Actual Auto WB setting in camera, which evaluated at  4750K)



f/8 1/15 ISO 100

The sun was higher in the sky and the time a little earlier but this gives similar effects to the earlier images which had settings in camera. Does this mean that I might just as well use the Auto WB setting in camera and then change the settings in Photoshop?

Shade during the middle of the day – taken around 1.45 pm

I chose this scene because it was certainly in the shade, of the tree, and the playground behind was in full brightness of the sun.  Also we have the colours in the playground, wood-tones and earth tones.

No. 10: Daylight WB 4900K

f/8 1/80 ISO 200

No. 11: Shade WB 6350K

f/8 1/60 ISO 200

No. 12: Auto WB 4600K

f/8 1/60 ISO 22

As before, the Shade WB (No. 11) gives a more yellow hue, which I don’t like.  I can see more blueness in the earth on Auto WB.

In sunlight when the sun is close to the horizon

This was around 6.20pm on 26th September and the sun was beginning to set low on the horizon.  Carters’ Steam Fair was visiting and we went along to take some photographs.  The fairy lights on the rides etc were also beginning to compete with the low sun. All images were f/8 @ 1/40 ISO 100.

No. 13: Daylight WB 4900K

No. 14: Shade WB 6350K

No. 15: Auto WB 5700

I can’t see too much difference between the three.

As we went around the Fair I experimented with the settings. One was taken from low down and so I used the Shade WB setting.

No. 16: Shade WB 7500K

f/11 1/40 ISO 200

I did some editing on this to lighten it and also bring more attention to the dog’s tail.

As it became darker the lights became more evident. I used Fluorescent WB on this one and also aimed to show up the steam against the sky.

No. 17: Fluorescent WB 3800K

f/8  1/60 ISO800

Learning points

What’s clear is that Auto WB does evaluate the scene and so sets varying points on the scale whereas the different settings seem more standardized.  In this respect my first point of call would always be Auto WB unless there were special circumstances. – such as in studio photography and, maybe, landscape where there is a predominance of one particular colour. I was also interested to see whether the WB setting might have an effect on the exposure setting but it doesn’t really seem to.

14th October 2011


TAOP Part 4: Light – Ex 2: Higher and lower sensitivity (Project – The Intensity of Light)

Part 4 : Light

 Project – The Intensity of Light

Exercise 2 : Higher and lower sensitivity

The first two images were taken with my Ricoh GDR 3 compact camera on a day with an overcast sky. I went to a small shopping centre  in a village near to where I live.

No. 1: ISO 200 f/5 at 1/500

No. 2: ISO 800 f/7.1 at 1/1000

At 100% there was obviously much more noise/graininess at ISO 800 particularly on the CCTV cameras; car number plates and the Waitrose sign in the distance. This is a small camera which produces a jpeg at approximately 15” x 11”. Noise would be very noticeable at ISO 800 if the jpeg was expanded.

The next ten photographs were taken with my Canon 500D DSLR, using my 15-85mm EFS lens. Again it was a cloudy day.

No. 3: f/11 ISO 100 at 1/250 –  lens at 24mm focal length

No. 4: f/11 ISO 800 at 1/20000

I chose this roundabout because of the mix of dark and light tones and moving cars. At ISO 800 there is very noticeable graininess at 100% but I had to look much harder to see this at 25%. At ISO 100 the shutter speed was still sufficient to freeze the motion of the car but I can see some motion blur on the bonnet.

No. 5: f/11 ISO 100 @ 1/25 lens at 70mm

No. 6: f/11 ISO 800 @ 1/250 lens at 70mm

There seems to be more depth of colour in No. 6 but the foliage in the background looks more blurred and I can see the noise on the road particularly.. The shutter speed of No. 5 is decidedly low for the size of the lens when handheld, which it was.

No. 7: f/11 ISO 100 @1/100 Lens at 63mm

No. 8: f11 ISO 800 @ 1/800 Lens at 63mm

I can’t see a large difference at 100% between the two here

No. 9: f/11 ISO 100 @ 1/100 Lens at 44mm

No. 10: f/11 ISO 80@ 1/800 Lens 44mm

Looking hard, at 100% , I can see that the wording is less clear on No. 10.

No. 11: f/8 ISO 100 @ 1/800 Lens at 19mm

No. 12: f/8 ISO 800 Lens at 19mm

I can’t really see any difference in texture between these two.

Canon DSLR with EF135mm F/2L USM lens

I decided to do something different, and more interesting to me this time.  I don’t know why but, even though, we’re told to be as creative as we would like, I always seem to descend into ordinariness when I’m doing these exercises. Maybe I’m hoping that some magic will occur as a result of completing them and what was banal will turn into something beautiful.

I have this new lens (bought via Ebay) which can be wonderfully sharp.  However, it’s quite heavy handheld and does not have image stabilization. Both these factors mean that I do have to keep up the shutter speed if I hand-hold but it’s been another technical challenge to me to work out the different combinations of shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

It was a beautiful, sunny day so I thought I’d take the lens a walk along with our two dogs and off we went to the Common.  Sun and trees mean shadows and dappled light.  Add to that two dogs who have creamy coats and black muzzles and rarely stay still (except with heads down) searching out pine cones, bits of bark and other fascinating objects!

No. 13: f/5 @1/50 ISO 400

Dora standing still!  I used evaluative metering, hoping that this would cope the best with the cream, black and brown.The aperture was right but, even though I increased the ISO to 400, the speed was too slow and this shows in her face. There was some improvement through sharpening etc but her face is still slightly blurred.

No. 14: f/3.2 @1/200 ISO 400

I used centre-=weighted metering on Digby. To see if it would cope with the contrasts better than evaluative.  Auto exposure mode gave a shutter speed at 1/200 and ISO at 400. On preview I could see flashing on Digby’s coat so I reduced the exposure by -0.33. His head was in shadow so there is less definition but I was able to improve this somewhat in editing.

No. 15: f/2.2 @1/200 ISO 100

Lady in red walking through the dappled light. Auto exposure gave a fast enough speed with a low ISO setting but, again, exposure was reduced by -0.33 to take account of her hair.  There was still highlight clipping on her dog though.


A higher ISO setting does lead to marked graininess, even with a small size image,  when using a smaller compact camera.  On the whole, I need a higher ISO setting to give a suitable shutter speed when I use my 135mm lens hand-held. That applies with dappled light/shade but would be less necessary with a more even brightness.

I need to inject more creativity into my exercises because when I do I feel more pleased with the results.

10th October 2011