Light science and magic

Light science and magic by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver and Paul Fuqua

I’ve just finished reading this book on lighting and have to say its one of the best lighting books I’ve read, clear and concise with good examples throughout. It covers the basic principals of light, shape, reflection management, family of angles, surface appearance, metal, glass and many other topics. Finishing with a whole section on portable lights and battery strobes.

As with all the books so far on the course I can honestly say I have read this book cover to cover, tried many of the examples  in the book and truly learned a great deal from the experience. Before you get to the light section of AoP I suggest reading this book. 


17 Horizontal and vertical lines

The brief is simple enough, four shots that contain horizontal and vertical lines, the difficult part is making them the key obvious element of the image to leave not doubt in the viewers mind. Plus we were asked to avoid repeating the way in which a line appears. A little unsporting I thought.

I originally had 8 images that were closeup and though I liked their abstract presentation, they all worked well and their purpose was clear not requiring interpretation. I felt they all looked too similar, so I have gone back and retaken a number of them to have a more balanced set. The ones I replaced can be seen at the end of this exercise.

Equipment used was a Canon G1X, Nikon DSLR, 28-300mm and 50mm lens. All post capture processing in DXO.

Horizontal lines

Image 1 – the shadow of a pergola on stone paved floor creating a long series of lines..


Image 2 – creased fabric lit at a very shallow angle to show the creases in the material to accentuate the horizontal lines.


Image 3 – a relatively small section of a building where metal louvers cut across a window, the faint pattern seen behind the strong vertical lines area reflection of the building across the opposite side of the street.


Image 4 – an apartment block in the docklands area of the city.


Vertical Lines

Image 1 – a grooved wood fence panel spaced with larger vertical gaps between the boards.


Image 2 – a rusting metal grid and its reflection from a Sea pool bath in Brighton, Victoria. IMG_1552_DxO

Image 3 – yacht masts from a local marina with the taller buildings in the city just visible on the horizon.


Image 4 – an iron gate found in one of the graffiti ally ways near the arts centre. Shot with a 50mm at f1.4 to ensure the background was out of focus.


These are the shots that were replaced when I re-shot a number of the pictures: IMG_1553_DxO DSC_4423_DxO DSC_4389_DxO

22 Rhythms and patterns

Both these images were taken on a recent trip to part of the business district in Melbourne for this exercise and a number of others. I found rhythm easy to see but not so to capture. Pattern was easier to capture but difficult to find..

Equipment used Nikon DSLR and 28-300mm lens. All post capture processing in Nikon NX2 and DXO.



The best building to show rhythm, but situated in a very narrow lane..



Yes central composition I know, but think it works well for this static side of a building.


The genius of photography

‘The genius of photography’ is the title of a TV series produced by the BBC and available on DVD. In six one hour programmes this DVD set follows the story of photography through time towards the present day and gives a glimpse of many of the great photographers along the way. Winner of the Royal Television Society Arts Award 2007. From pin holes to digital and some great interviews and discussion of the photographers works, a great series worthy of your time.

Post capture ethics

As always there is an on going debate about changes to photographs that change or manipulate the original ‘in camera’ image in some way. Whether it is to remove an un-wanted branch or lamp post, improve features or body shape in a portrait or manipulate a very large portion of the entire image. Recent news and media coverage seems to have fuelled the debate once again and the words like unethical are being bandied around by many individuals and the media.

It leads me to ask at what point did we decide that photography can be nothing more than exact record of the original scene? How in any way is that art? Artists have changed and manipulated the subject before them and transferred there impression or version of this onto the canvas/paper/ceiling/wall since the medium first saw the light of day. Unless the image has to be an exact representation for medical examination or legal record (as reasonably possible) I see no reason for an image to remain un-edited.

Every image that comes out of a digital camera is manipulated – compressed, contrast adjusted, dust removed, shake reduced, colours changed, filters applied, cropped, sharpened…and the list goes on. Unless we only ever shoot in uncompressed RAW and never post process, it will always have been manipulated by some degree and even then the lens itself will have distorted the image in some way.. 

And no matter what degree of change, why would the original photographer/artist not have the right to manipulate as she/he sees fit for their desired vision?

The photographers eye

The photographers eye by Michael Freeman

This book focuses on design as the single most important factor in creating a successful photograph. Simply put the book shows how anyone can develop the ability to see and shoot great photographs with a traditional approach to composition and design. But also recognises that in the digital age the image seen through the viewfinder can be very different to the final result.

It approaches the subject from a very thoughtful perspective. While the book covers the basic elements;lines, shapes, dynamic tension, balance. It also talks at length about more emotionally-related issues such as the search for order, reactive thought, etc. These are the concepts that more experienced photographers (and artists) find themselves confronting once they have a solid feel for design elements and construction.

The ability to see the potential for a strong picture and then organize the graphic elements into an effective, compelling composition has always been one of the key skills in making photographs. This book has to be ‘the book’ so far for me on the reading material for the course. To think that Michael had trouble selling the concept of this book to the publishers astonishes me.

If you are wondering which book to read next or first, this has to be top of your list…

The photograph as contemporary art

The photograph as contemporary art by Charlotte Cotton

The book brings you the story of contemporary art photography featuring art photographers such as Isa Genzken, Sherrie Levine, Florian Maier-Aichen, Sara VanDerBeek, and Walead Besht. I have to say I find the current world of contemporary art photography baffling, though after reading this book I a least have a little more insight and understanding into its structure.

Having struggled with this book (or rather many of the photographs within it) and reading a lot online to help me understand the best quote I can give you that summaries my own view “What distinguishes contemporary art photograph from other beautiful photographs is not always clear, but … I know it when I see it.”