Stop and think

It was an interesting challenge from Stu this week.

Set up your photo of any subject.
Now stop. Think. Make THREE improvements to your photo.
…and finally take it.

I was somewhat lacking in inspiration, but since I’ve recently become interested in how to light scenes properly, this is a perfect opportunity for some experimenting and improving with an off-camera flash. I had a go with portrait lighting a few weeks ago (also a Tuesday Challenge) so this time I’ll try something a little different.

Attempt 1

I set up this relatively uninteresting scene – a picture of my 35mm SLR on a box, in front of a kitchen cupboard. Sorry, it was the best I could think of. It will probably be quite challenging due to the reflective metal areas on the camera.

Attempt 1

Nice camera, but a poor photo. It was lit using only the ambient light in the kitchen, and it’s too dark. Lots of the camera is in shade, and the top metal part is reflecting the light directly into the camera. This is a scene that could definitely benefit from some carefully directed light.

My digital camera was also in full auto mode, and due to the low light, the camera has bumped the ISO right up, causing some graininess.

Attempt 2

I popped up the built-in flash to cast some more light on the scene.

Attempt 2

As built-in flashes always are, it was a disaster. The light is too hard, too cold and probably worst of all, the “nose” of my camera is casting a shadow.

On the plus side, there is now plenty of light. It’s just in the wrong place.

Attempt 3

I put a hotshoe flash on top of my camera. This is further away from the camera lens, so it shouldn’t cast a shadow, and the greater distance between the flash and the lens should mean more interesting shadows, and a less “flat” picture.

Attempt 3

Well, this is the best so far. But the flash is still too close to the scene, and a large part of the image is overexposed. We need to move the flash somewhere else.

Attempt 4

Now I’ve got the flash on its own tripod, triggered wirelessly. This gives me the freedom to move it around and cast the shadows in any direction. I can also move it nearer or further from the scene. I’ve put a white carrier bag over the flash to diffuse its hard light a little.

The keen-eyed among you might also spot that the SLR is “looking up”. I’ve propped it up with the lid from a bottle of Coke to give it a more “sporty” stance.

Attempt 4

Ah! That’s much better. No badly overexposed regions, no hard lighting and no odd shadows. There’s also detail in the shot – you can clearly see the Canon logo now that light isn’t reflecting directly off the camera body.

It’s still a pretty basic shot, but it’s all I’ve got time for this week 🙁

Oh, and if you wanted to see how I did it…

The setup shot

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