Research into the history, context, and contemporary manifestations of the area of knowledge
Rick Doble’s article (2016) delves into the history of light and photography informing us on the word photography originating from the Greek language meaning ‘light writing’ (photo = light, graphy = writing). From this definition, we can come to the understanding that light is a crucial, if not the most important aspect of photography. Within this article, Doble alludes to the idea that the modern scientific understanding of light evolved along with the development of the camera and photography, making photography a unique art form that has always been inseparable from science (Doble, R 2016).
Throughout my research conducted during the course of my practice, I have identified lighting to be a key factor in creating a successful image. Lighting determines not only brightness and darkness, but also tone, mood and the atmosphere of the photo (SHAW Academy, 2015). Therefore it is necessary to control and manipulate light correctly in order to get the best texture, vibrancy of colour and luminosity on your subjects (SHAW Academy, 2015).
The manipulation of light in photography is simplified down to five aspects (Peters, C 2014):
- Position – Light positioning is about adjusting the length, direction and angle of shadows that an instrument casts
- Brightness – The overall brightness of a scene is often referred to as being high key or low key.
- Quality – Refers to a light’s hardness or softness.
- Shape – Is about controlling and focussing a light.
- Colour – Light colour can be easily altered using gels, and light colour has an immense influence on the look and feel of a scene.
Over the course of my practice, I have been focusing on these five aspects of lighting, experimenting and researching ways in which best to manipulate then for photography.
Structure of your daily practice and rational
During the course of the 6 weeks of practice, I had set the task of improving my lighting knowledge and lighting techniques in photography through daily practice and research.
My daily practice would involve taking a number of photos daily, usually around 20 – 30 shots. In each daily practise I would take pictures of the same object (was a VB can then I changed it to a doll) experimenting with researched lighting techniques. I aimed at posting 3 blogs a week that consisted of my shots over a couple of days, as well as researched techniques and reflection.
These daily experiments were conducted in a number of different locations, my bedroom, carport, IC black room, backyard, and street, all utilising a number of different artificial and natural light sources available to me. Among these locations I would experiment with many researched lighting techniques such as split lighting, backlighting, broad and short lighting, reflectors, street lights, headlights, candle light, multi directional lighting, shadows, various coloured lighting, high and low angled lighting.
Description and critical reflection on how this daily practice developed over time
In beginning this practice, my understanding of lighting in photography was below par, lacking any knowledge of the ways light can be used to create mood, feeling, tone and atmosphere within photography.
The first couple of weeks of practice, I was working with real basic lighting positions and techniques, experimenting with multiple light sources, directions and brightness’s. It was around the 2 – 3 week mark that I began realising that the VB can was too basic as an object for my photography, restricting my experimentations with lighting. I decided to switch to a doll, which allowed for me to move on to more technical portrait lighting techniques.
Upon starting to work with the doll, I found that the practice sessions were becoming more enjoyable as I was able to work with a greater list of lighting approaches. I found that as the weeks progressed, my knowledge on lighting was growing immensely, becoming more confident through my research and techniques attempted. As I compare my first week photos to my last weeks, I can see a massive growth in the quality of the photography as well as the techniques used.
I found that my black room sessions were most valuable to my practice. The lighting resources IC offered allowed me to properly explore a multitude of lighting techniques, all contributing to a positive learning curve for me. During the beginning I found it tough to find time and motivation to practice my lighting, however, as I progressed and learned, I was more invested in making time to practice and experiment.
Speculation on how this will contribute to your future learning
This repetitive process of practice has been a positive experience for my learning, gaining a great amount of confidence in my photography but also heightening my knowledge on this crucial element known as lighting. Having a strong interest in cameras and photography I would love to continue on increasing my knowledge on lighting, as well as variety of other aspects within photography. Practicing over these weeks has been an informative process, not just for my education in lighting, but also for learning how I can motivate myself to continue on performing this practice over a long period of time.
Doble, R 2016, ‘A BRIEF HISTORY OF LIGHT & PHOTOGRAPHY’, IPWA,
< http://www.lpwalliance.com/publication/43/ >
SHAW 2015, ‘The Importance of Light in Photography’, SHAW Academy, Blog, May 12,
< http://www.shawacademy.com/blog/light-in-photography/ >
Peters, C 2014, ‘Lighting Video: Five Important Aspects of any Lighting Setup’, Videomaker, April 3,
< http://www.videomaker.com/videonews/2014/03/lighting-video-five-important-aspects-of-any-lighting-setup >