Thursday, 27 January 2011

PnP1: Ex 3: Thinking about lighting (i)

The aim of this exercise seems to be to consider the effect of various lighting schemes on a portrait. May have to complete this in batches as the weather is not being particularly kind.
As noted in the previous entry, I’ve decided to go with a series of self-portraits in this exercise.
First up is a shot which follows on from this experiment on my personal blog:
Self portrait - torch light
It is lit by torchlight from below and the colour balance adjusted in Lightroom to remove the pronounced orange cast. As expected it has a sort of ‘Hammer House of Horror’ feel to it. The rather focussed light casts dramatic, but unflattering shadows from a strange angle, and there is a spot which is nearly burned out under the chin. The overall effect is unsettling and less than flattering.
By contrast – this version is lit with a relatively large light source from the side. This time I used the light from the lcd monitor on the household computer:
Self portrait - screen light
The strong side-lighting produces deep shadows on the unlit side of the face, but the bright highlight in the dark eye draws attention to the eyes, and together with the light on the cheekbone provides enough detail to allow us to see the whole face. The photo has a late-night feel to it – perhaps even a sense of mystery. Edit: EileenR on Flickr suggested I should try this as a B/W, which I have done here
The next shot from this group uses an on-camera flashgun bounced from the ceiling:
Self portrait - flash bounce from ceiling
The illumination is much more even in this photo but the overhead lighting has placed quite deep shadows in the eye sockets and under the facial details This, coupled with my rather sombre expression creates a rather down-beat image which to my mind lacks the visual impact of the previous two, even though the lighting produces a more accurate likeness of my features.
The final shot in this group uses on-camera flash in the same position, but this time angled upwards and away from the subject to bounce from the wall and ceiling on the right of the photo:
Self portrait - flash bounce from ceiling and wall
This shot needed lightening in Lightroom, perhaps because of the relatively low power of the flash. The lighting is much more uniform, with reasonable detail in the eyes and far fewer unflattering shadows than the previous version. Must remember to look as though I’m enjoying myself though. To be honest this seems the most boring of the indoor shots presented here, lacking in sparkle or interest.
The rest of this exercise and the conclusions will be uploaded in a separate post.


JanetB14 said...

Found this really interesting Nigel, funnily enough I am also toying with the idea of doing some self portraits for some of these earlier exercises, just not sure if I am brave enough yet !

Nigel Monckton said...

The benefit of self portraits is that if you summon up the courage to ask the subject always says yes!