When I started I thought I knew what I wanted to do with this assignment. Having tried out one of the possibilities I am not now so sure. I had initially rejected the idea of expanding on the idea of daylight. Studio light I am not sure I can develop properly as the resources I have available are fairly limited. Artificial light though does interest me and of the three earlier exercises on this subject it was 4.3 that I enjoyed the most and that I felt had more to offer. For purely practical reasons though I was not sure I could, or indeed wanted to, go much further with exterior shots using artificial light. What did appeal though, based in large part on the image of the view from outside into the kitchen, was the idea of shooting indoors with part of the scene obscured by an internal feature of the house – there is something that very much appeals to me, and I have explored in other projects, about revealing something by concealing part of the whole. The idea was therefore that I would take a series of images of views through doorways into rooms, part of the view being obscured by part of the doorway or the door itself, to give a limited view into the room and just a hint about that room and its purpose. At the same time I was interested in creating a certain ambience with the available light and choice of White Balance in the camera, the intention being to deliberately create a certain warmth, and dare I say it, cosiness.
Because of the obvious need for long exposures, all shots were taken using a tripod and I decided to use a 50mm lens (rapidly becoming my first choice for many situations – it is just such a versatile lens!). Because length of exposure was not an issue I left ISO at 100 for maximum sharpness and shot in aperture priority throughout set at f/16 to achieve a good depth of field and to draw the eye well into each space.
The issue of White Balance proved to be a bit of a surprise. The house is lit throughout with a mix of low energy fluorescents, Halogen, and LED lights. Playing around in camera first I quickly discovered that the warmth that I was looking for was actually produced by using the shade setting. It does give a noticeable orange cast but that in itself gives some of the effect I was looking for and does help to emphasise, if only of the purpose of this assignment, that the light source was artificial. Tungsten produced a horrible, cold, blue cast. Fluorescent on the other hand gave a much more natural, if slightly washed out result, but did not make it clear that the light was not natural. Using Automatic White Balance, letting the camera decide produced an even more nondescript result. Having worked this out in camera first I took all of the images using use the shade setting. However, to give some degree of comparison, I have included shots using fluorescent and automatic settings for one of the scenes, marked on the contact sheets below (4774 and 4775). On reflection though, looking again at 4773, I fear that in this particular case the orange cast is actually too strong so this one would need to be rethought if taken further.
This is not the full range of shots that I initially intended to take. I was going to do more but having produced this first set and having reviewed them I have decided not to continue with this particular approach. The problem is that while some of the images are, I think, quite interesting enough in their own right, the set as a whole does not say enough about light. There is not enough variety. They do not say much to me about “Languages of light”.
I am therefore going to reshoot adopting a completely different approach. What I think is most interesting about light is the way it changes over time. This is hinted at in what I produced for Exercise 4.2 but I think it can be made much stronger and more explicit by photographing a scene where the change of natural light and its movement is more obvious, and also record the transition to artificial light as natural light fades. What I therefore need to introduce is a stronger temporal element and shoot over the course of a lengthy part of the day. If I can work out how to do it from a technical point of view it would then be nice to finish with a final shot in the dark, without any artificial light but just what little light is available from the twilight or moonlight – that could be an interesting technical challenge in its own right! It would be interesting to try an approach similar to Michael Wesely’s pin-hole cameras but I fear that is beyond me at the moment.
More to follow!