Category Archives: Exercise 4.2 – Layered, Complex and Mysterious

Exercise 4.2 – Layered, Complex and Mysterious

In this exercise I have taken a series of shots to show how light changes throughout the day.

For this exercise I decided to use a fixed subject and a near enough fixed viewpoint.  As circumstances would have it I had the opportunity to be in the same place all day and therefore decided to record the scene near enough every hour.

What I hoped/expected and what actually happened were two different things.  I had expected the images to go through the range of dawn colours, the bright direct colours of midday and then to sunset and beyond.   While the question said ‘It doesn’t matter if the day is overcast or clear’ for this exercise, my belief is it does if you want to achieve text book results.

The day I chose could not be more overcast if it tried.  One of those grey days as a photographer you know will give you very flat light that you would not really consider and landscape photography.  Not that I am adverse to these types of flat days as they are good for certain types of photography: detail, flowers and sometimes natural light portraits.

While it is argued by many that light is the single most important thing a photographer needs to understand, I would suggest from completing this exercise that it is a combination of weather and light.  This is because the weather drives the quality of light.  On a clear day all is fine.  Introduce any element of weather and it acts like a giant filter to the light and changes the quality.  In the case of the day I took these it functioned as a giant diffusing filter and killed any effect so almost every picture remained consisted in appearance.

The time sequence of images is below (and admittedly not the most exciting subject matter) it is only on one image (11:42) does any form of modelling or lighting come into play.  Here you can see shadows in the picture and while not much light gives the image and extra boost compared to that of the others.

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Initially I was disappointed with the results of the day.  It did not answer the question as I imagined it.   However upon reflection and further research into the combinative effect of weather and light then I am more happy in that if it were not for this exercise I would have never taken a sequence of shots to learn about light in this way.

What I expected to observe and what happened were two different things.  What I expected was that throughout the day the images would conform to two events  Therefore what I expected to happen and what happened are detailed below:

Expected: Colour Temperature Changes
Under normal conditions I would have expected the colour temperature of any scene to rise throughout the day from about from 3,000 to about 5,500 during the day dropping back to about 3,000 towards sunset thus giving a warn tone to the morning and evening pictures and normal daylight tones for the others.

Expected: Shadows
As the day progressed I would have expected to see longer shadows in the morning and evening therefore showing contours and modelling on subjects, while around mid-day very few shadows giving a clean if aa little flat image.

Neither of these really manifested themselves because of the conditions on the day.  Throughout the day the weather was very overcast and as said other than for half an hour around lunchtime the conditions remained almost constant.  The result was that the pictures taken during the morning were very little different from those later in the day.

Actual Colour Temperature Changes
As it can be seen from the images nothing really changed.  All of the images seem (with the exception of the midday shot) to have a similar colour cast.  I assume that this is because the cloud as a filter created these conditions.  Not being familiar in a detailed way yet with Colour Temperature I am not sure how I should have set the white balance on the camera to compensate.  All pictures were taken using white balance set to Auto.  Maybe I should have set this to cloudy because that was the conditions but I would have expected the auto to register this fact.  More investigation required into how this works.

Actual Shadows
Clearly as there was no sunlight (other than one picture) there were never going to be any shadows

In retrospect the subject that I chose for this exercise was not the most conducive in that the light was very binary with the garden in deep shade and the sky by comparison very bright.  Therefore with centre weighted metering on the camera it assumed that the bushes were the mid tone and as a result the sky looks vastly overexposed.  Yes this can be corrected in Lightroom or the like but that was not the point within this exercise which is about observing rather than photographic manipulation.  Again only in the picture where the sun did appear did it lighten the foreground to make the exposure range between the extremes less did the sky really show itself.

My learning from Exercise 4.2 in this case would have been to have an incident light meter to measure light landing on the subject therefore removing any subjectivity of the camera’s light meter.