Friday, 25 October 2013

Tungsten and Fluorescent Lighting

Exercise: Tungsten and fluorescent lighting (first part 3 photographs, second part 4-6 photographs)

Part 1 Tungsten lighting 

For the first part of this exercise, I was to take three photographs covering both an interior lit by tungsten lamps and exterior at dusk. Each photograph would be taken with different white balance (WB) settings. The first with WB set to Daylight, second set to Tungsten and finally the third set to Auto. I was then to compare the results. 

f3.2 @ 1/50sec ISO 1000 Daylight WB 5000k

The first was taken with the WB set to daylight. As you can see the tungsten wall lights have a distinct yellow glow and therefore the interior scene has a colour cast of that colour from them. The exterior looks a more natural colour as would have been expected with this WB setting. 

f3.2 @ 1/60 sec ISO 1000 Tungsten WB 2950k

With the WB set to tungsten the interior view is closer to the colour present at the time of shooting, with a slight yellow cast. The exterior has taken on a much bluer, cooler look. 

f3.2 @ 1/40 sec ISO 1000 Auto WB 2950k 

Set to Auto the camera has adopted the best setting for the scene. The interior light is now  exactly how I remember it. The exterior has taken on a more natural colour, however with still more blue than was actually present at the time of shooting. 

The WB tungsten and auto setting gave a value of 2950k, this is right in the middle of the approximate range on the Kelvin scale for tungsten, which could be anywhere from 2500-3500k depending on the power or wattage of the bulbs. 

Part 2 Fluorescent lighting 

For the second part of this exercise I was asked to look at fluorescent lighting. I was to find two different scenes lit by fluorescent lighting and take two photographs of each, one with the WB set to Auto and the other with WB set to fluorescent, and again note the differences.

f6.3 @1/125 sec ISO 1250 Auto WB 3750k

The first two photographs were taken at the cafe at the Tate Modern in London. The cafe had high ceilings with small circular suspended fluorescent lights hanging down. This photograph was taken with the WB set to auto and has produced a photograph very close to how my eyes saw it at the time. 

f6.3 @ 1/100 sec ISO 1250 Fluorescent WB 3800k

With the camera set to fluorescent WB there is only a slight difference in the WB value from what had been recorded on the auto setting. However the scene has a purple hew to the colours, which makes me think the light coming from around the counter is not fluorescent and therefore causing the colour cast. 

The results of the two photographs above prove that when there are more than one type of light present the naked eye does a fantastic job of filtering it so that we see just a constant light, however the camera's sensor struggles to cope.

f6.3 @ 1/15 sec ISO 800 Auto WB 4050k

The next two photographs were taken at the Canary Wharf underground station, not the sharpest of photographs due to handholding at too slow a shutter speed. 

The object of the photograph however was to record the lighting. Once again the cameras auto WB setting has done a fairly good job of recording the light as it was at the time of shooting, with a slight orange cast. 

f6.3 @ 1/15 sec ISO 800 Fluorescent WB 3800k

With the WB set to fluorescent the scene is now exactly same lighting conditions as that at the time of shooting. 

Therefore the only lighting present within this area of the underground station is fluorescent. As with the camera set to the appropriate WB setting it records the lighting at the scene exactly how it existed at the time of shooting.  

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Weather issues!

The British weather, as good as the summer was this year, the autumn rain and overcast conditions are making up for it in abundance. 

I started the exercise,  Light through the day about 2 weeks ago now and still haven't got anywhere near completing it. I managed to get three photographs towards the sunset on the day I started, but nothing since. We've only had 1 day of reasonable clear conditions in the past 2 weeks and Murphy's law stated that I was working a long day then so couldn't possible get out to take advantage of it. 

I've managed to get a few photographs for the Variety with a low sun exercise, but even thats not completed yet. 

Unsurprisingly with the weather as bad as it has been I did managed to get all the photographs for Cloudy weather and rain! 

With the weather conditions predicted to be unsettled for a few more weeks yet, I have had to crack on with the rest of the exercises and hopefully be in a position to complete these prior to starting assignment 4.

Fingers crossed! 

William Eggelston at the Tate Modern

Following on from my introduction to William Eggelston's work, I attended the Tate Modern in London to look more closely into his style and view his images. 

Eggleston's work was displayed within a larger exhibition called 'Energy and Process'. The displays looked at different artists interest in transformation and natural forces. 

Two series of his works were on display, the first was called 'Election Eve 1976'. The ten images in this series were taken shortly before the 1976 American Presidential election. Eggelston took a road trip around the state of Georgia. This is the area where Jimmy Carter's campaign headquarters was based. 

Looking through the images, I could see the abandoned vehicles, the derelict buildings, the look of a run down area of the USA. But just around the corner, not only the nations media but also the world were looking on as the country chose the next president of the worlds largest and richest economy. 

Eggleston uses a method of printing called 'dye transfer', which allows various colours within a photograph to be printed as separations. Each colour is printed in its richest form, maintaining strong red and green tones within a single image. This was apparent when viewing his work, the colours are truly outstanding. 

The second series is called 'Chrome'. This is a selection of ten photographs taken from 1969-74 using Kodachrome and Ektachrome film, hence the title. 

William Eggelston - Untitled - Chromes 1969-1974

This series of photographs is a glimpse into Eggelston's early work around his home state of Memphis, Tennessee and his testing of colour and compositional strategies. 

William Eggelston - Untitled - Chromes 1969-1974

Chromes has been released as a set of three clothbound books. The books are an edit of more than 5000 Kodachrome and Ektachchrome photographs taken from ten chronologically ordered binders found in a safe at the Eggelston Artistic Trust. 

This set cost a whopping £500, but hopefully one day soon I will be the proud owner of this outstanding body of work by one of most important contemporary American photographers. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Cloudy Weather and Rain

Exercise - Cloudy weather and rain (4-6 photographs for the first part, 3 for the second and 2 for the third)

For the first part of this exercise, I was asked to take a number of photographs to demonstrate  the difference in taking the same photograph under differing lighting conditions, in this case under a sunny then overcast sky.

The first pair of photographs were taken less than a minute apart, the weather was overcast with the sun breaking through the clouds. Each photograph is quite different in it's appearance. The photograph on the left was taken under the overcast sky. It has a blue tint to the colour. In the second photograph taken under sunny skies, this has has a orange tint and a warmer feel to it, shadows are also more pronounced. As stated both were taken less than a minute apart, an hour or so before sunset. The cameras WB setting was set to sunny for both. There is 1 stop difference between the two photographs. 

In the second set of photographs of this not very often used bench, the difference is not as clear as the first pair of photographs. The green grass and foliage in the overcast photograph are muted and as before, the overall feel and look of the photograph is one of very little contrast. Where as when the sun came out a minute or so later, even though a little hazy, the grass appears brighter, with the greens and browns more pronounced. The shadow created by the bank behind the seat created contrast within the photograph.  

Again the above pair of photographs were taken about a minute apart. The overcast conditions have produced an even diffused light and giving the photograph a subtle blue tone. Under sunny skies the photograph has a different feel altogether, the shadows are stronger and colours richer. 

The second part of this exercise called for overcast conditions, something that wouldn't be hard to find this time of year! 

The overcast sky creates a diffused light, much like using a light box in a studio. The cloud scatters the sun's light rays, causing them to strike the stone in this photograph from many angles. This produces very soft shadows which allow the detail on the stone to be seen clearly.

In this photograph of the platform at Okehampton railway station the diffused light created by the overcast sky has created soft shadows which has resulted in a even spread of light. If the same photograph were to be taken with a clear sunny sky, the rays from the sun would create large areas of shadow and the area under the canopy on the platform would be in shadow and the detail seen here would be lost. 

In this photograph taken on an overcast day shows the diffused light creating even light across the photograph. The detail can still be seen between the cases as a result. 

The green part of the loading ramp, painted in gloss paint would cause direct reflection of the rays of the sun if taken in sunlight. This could create possible problems depending on the angle of the sun in relation to the camera. 

The study notes suggest looking through my photograph collection and identify one or two that were taken on a cloudy day and I could definitely say they would not be better taken in sunlight. 

This photograph I took a few years ago on a beach in North Wales. I wanted to get the detail of all the pebbles. The diffused light allowed the photograph to be evenly lit, allowing all the detail to be seen. If taken in direct sunlight, the contrast would have caused hard shadows and the detail in the darker areas would have been lost.  

This series demonstrate that sunlight on a clear day is an example of a high contrast light source, and conversely on an overcast day sunlight becomes a low contrast light source. 

The final few photographs of this exercise required something that is not uncommon in Okehampton, rain! 

Rain is something that most photographers avoid, not wanting to get their precious camera wet. Most modern cameras are ok to use in the rain, with a few precautions. 

Rain can produce interesting visual effects, such as ringlets as the rain strikes puddles. This photograph shows the effect of the water splashing as my glamorous assistant walked through these puddles, braving the rain to help me in this exercise. The diffused light of the overcast sky and reduced light meant that I raised the ISO to 800 in order to gain the necessary shutter speed to freeze the water splashes. 

The A30, gateway to sunny Cornwall, well not quite on this day. The rain and low cloud have given this photograph a decidedly autumn feel. The headlights reflecting of the on coming car show that the wet road surface creates reflections. 

The misty appearance of the hills in the background indicate that this sort of weather can have a dramatic effect on the feel of a landscape photograph. 

As I have shown in the previous photographs, the sun can alter an image, the shadows caused by the trees and the colours of the surrounding foliage would be remarkably different. Imagine this photograph on a sunny summers day, a very different looking photograph. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Judging Colour Temperature 2

Exercise: Judging Colour Temperature 2

For the second part of this exercise, a similar series of photographs were required. As with first part I was required to take three photographs, one at around the middle of the day in direct sunlight, one in shadow and one at sunset. For each of these three photographs, I was to take three versions at different WB settings, Sunny, cloudy and auto. 

Would varying the WB setting create a better looking photograph depending on the time of day and lighting conditions?

This photograph was taken around 6pm shortly before sunset, the camera was set to sunny WB which gave a setting of 5000k. 

The next photograph was taken shortly after the first, so the same time of day, same lighting conditions. This time the WB was set to shade, giving a value of 7200k. As you can see, it gives a warmer, more orange tint to the photograph. 

The third photograph, again taken at the same time with the WB set to auto, giving a value of 4200k. A much cooler look to the photograph. 

As these photographs were taken near to sunset, the second photograph was the one that most represents sunset.

This photograph was taken in direct sunlight at around 1pm, with the camera set to a WB setting of sunny, at 5000k.

With the camera set to auto WB, the same photograph was taken at the same time with the same lighting conditions. The camera has selected a WB value of 4700k, very close to the cameras preset sunny WB setting of 5000k.

With the WB set to cloudy, which gave a value of 7200k, the photograph shows an orange tint.

As you can see from the kelvin scale it shows 7200k as overcast daylight. As the photograph was taken in direct sunlight near to the middle of the day, it shows that this setting is incorrect for these lighting conditions. 

Of the three photographs taken in direct sunlight the automatic white balance setting of 4700k resulted in the best colour reproduction of the actual stone colour of the monument at the time of shooting. 

The same monument as the previous set of photographs, however taken from a different side, a side that was in shade, and also by the time these photographs were taken the sky had cloudy over, giving an overcast sky. 

This photograph was taken at a WB setting of sunny. 

This photograph was taken with auto WB selected, which gave a value of 4300k. 

This has produced a photograph that is very close to the actual colours at the time of shooting. I was expecting a value in the region of 6000k, the value of overcast daylight. 

With shade WB selected I was expecting to see a true reproduction of the colours that were present at the time of shooting. However the orange tint suggest that this setting is incorrect. 

In conclusion the results of the final three photographs are not what I expected. The auto WB setting recorded a value of 4300k, a value found normally with noon daylight and not with shade and overcast conditions.This must be due in part to the fact the time of day and the monument was not in as much shade as I had first thought. 

The auto setting once again shows that the camera is fantastic at assessing the changes in the lighting conditions, however the control that the WB setting has on the overall feel of the final photograph shows that this is a valuable tool to the photographer.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Judging Colour Temperature 1

Exercise: Judging Colour Temperature (3 Photographs for the 1st Part, 9 for the 2nd)

As I discussed previously in the section Colour of Light, light at different times of the day and under different conditions will have different colours. To understand and demonstrate this theory, this exercise was to take 3 photographs at different times of the day and discuss the findings and differences when the photographs were compared with one another. 

To ensure the results were constant, the White Balance (WB) setting on my Nikon D300 was set to sunny. 

The first photograph was taken shortly after midday on bright October day. 

The second was taken a few hours later once the stone and grass where in full shadow. 
Finally the third photograph was taken around 6pm shortly before sunset. 

As you can see from these three photographs, which as stated were taken with the camera set to a WB setting of sunny, or 5000k are quite different in their appearance.

The first photograph, taken in the middle of the day, shows good contrasts, which you would expect, seeing as the sun was high in the sky creating the shadows from the hedgerow and the stone. The cameras WB setting has captured this scene as near perfect as I can remember. On the kelvin scale noon daylight has a value of 5000k, the same as the cameras setting at the time. 

The second photograph, even though it looked almost the same to the naked eye when I took the photograph, the camera has recorded it with a slightly blue tint. The kelvin scale states the overcast daylight has a value of around 7000k, slightly higher than the 5000k the camera was set to. 

The final photograph taken near to sunset, has a marked orange tint to it. This was apparent to the naked eye at the time of shooting. The kelvin scale gives a value in the region of 2000-3000k for light at sunset/sunrise. 

These series of photographs demonstrate that, as previously discussed, the colour temperature makes a marked difference to the final photograph depending on what time of day and what WB you are using on the camera. 

Friday, 4 October 2013

William Eggelston

Following my work on assignment 3 where I learnt to use colours in different ways to compose a photograph, I have subsequently looked more deeply in to the work of William Eggelston. 

I briefly looked at some of Egglestons work shortly after visiting an exhibition of Peter Fraser's work at the Tate, St Ives in March 2013. Fraser had visited Eggelston in the states for a three week period early in his career and had influence on his use of bold colours in his work. 

William Eggleston was born in Memphis, Tennessee, USA in 1939 and from a very early age had an interest in the visual arts. His early photographic work was influenced by the Swiss photographer, Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson's book, The Decisive Moment
Eggleston's early work was in black and white, just like Cartieri-Bresson, but then started experimenting with colour, after being introduced to this style by William Christenberry.  

In 1974, Eggleston produced his first portfolio, named 14 Pictures which was a few years later exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA). This was seen as a big step in the history of photography, as colour photography was now being exhibited and accepted at such an institution as the MoMA. 

A photograph from the 14 Pictures portfolio, shows the rich colours that would go on to characterise Egglestone's work.

The colour accent within this image, the rusty sign, draws the viewer deep into the image whereby they then explore the rest of the image, the textures in the foliage and bark of the trees. 

The question, what does or should I say, what did the sign say?

William Eggelston 1974, 14 pictures

Whilst reviewing his work, I was surprised to read that most, if not all of his photographs are taken in and around Memphis, Tennessee, his home town. Which made me think that whenever we look at photographs from the past, we get a sense of nostalgia, and often think 'wish I lived in the 1960's everything looked so much interesting and photogenic then'

This is a fallacy I need to re address, I'm sure that people living in the 1960's, the everyday items and places around them looked boring. We live in an age now of iPhones, ugly buildings and the like. However I am sure that in 50 years from now, people will be fascinated by the photographs we take today. 

Most of Eggleston's photographs are taken either early in the morning or later in the afternoon, as to capture the richer colours at these times of the day. 

William Eggelston, 1980 Troubled Waters

The Tate modern in London have a exhibition of Eggleston's work in The Richard B & Jeanne Donovan Fisher Gallery until 11th May 2014. This is an exhibition I must go and see for myself soon. I am now a real fan of his work, I love the way he finds beauty in the mundane, his sharp eye for finding fascinating colour combinations. Most of his work doesn't have people in them, which is not a bad thing, I think photographs are even more interesting without them sometimes.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Colour of Light

This next section on light deals with colour temperature. 

Light at different times of the day and under different conditions will have different colours. Our eyes are so highly developed that we do not see this change, our brain quickly adapts to the difference, but digital sensors, fitted in modern DSLR's cannot adapt. 

Colour temperature is expressed in Kelvin scale. I wont go too deeply in the science of colour temperature, but I will give a quick overview. 

Lets start with daylight, the temperature of the shade on a sunny day around midday is around 5500k, however if clouds start to obscure the sun, the colour temperature will go up to 6000-7000k, quite a lot bluer. As you can see in the chart below. 

During sunrise and sunset times, the temperature is much cooler, which is ironically warmer in look, i.e reddish yellow. 

How does this affect photography?

A photograph taken will record the temperature of the light as a hue across the overall colour balance and can often take an unpleasant cast from poor lightning conditions, i.e. incandescent bulbs and candles give a very warm light giving a strong orange cast across a photograph that can often lead to unflattering and unnatural tones. 

On digital cameras colour temperature is controlled by choosing a setting with the cameras menu, the WB option, specific to the environment in which you are taking the photograph. Cameras can be set to Tungsten, cloud, shade etc. Or alternatively they can be set to Auto White Balance (AWB) However using AWB, as with all auto settings on your camera can lead to disappointing results. 

Therefore a good understanding and appreciation of colour temperature prior to taking the photograph will produce far more pleasing results.

Further control of colour temperature can be achieved using editing software, such as Adobe Lightroom, or Photoshop if the initial photograph was taken in RAW. If you remember taking photographs in the RAW setting means that all the information is captured at the time of taking and can be edited later. 

However relying on post possessing to correct faults with the colour temperature, usually means the photograph was taken incorrectly to begin with!