43 Symbols

The purpose of this exercise is to find symbols for a number of concepts; growth, excess, crime, silence and poverty. No photographs where required for this submission.

Growth : an egg; child to adult single shot or sequence or any baby animal to adult; baby or young of any species; plant growing in a sequence of shots; body building; tumours.

Excess : table full of food; piles of gold, jewels or money; rows of expensive gifts; someone eating with food down their face; obesely overweight images; images of over eating or gluttony; lots of gaudy jewelry worn by a single person; somebody surrounded by a host of superfluous possessions.

Crime : stereotypical burglar; crowbar smashing a window; police at a crime scene; police car speeding through traffic; looting a shop window; fighting on the streets after the pub or a football game; prisoners, prison, prison cells; 

Silence : a still lake; a sleeping child; leaf floating from a tree; fish underwater; early morning scene of a landscape; calm water with or from a boat; sand dunes in a low sun; 

Poverty : shots in Africa, India to name but a few; children in rags; begging on streets; soup kitchen lines; sleeping on streets; poorer urban areas, slums and ghettos; ill health and age; food handouts; care packages; Christian shelters.

Surprsising how many you can think plus there are also many symbols that portray these concepts. There are of course many , many more…


45 Rain

For this exercise the brief was a simple one, to produce a single image of rain for a magazine cover . Simple to say, not so simple to do in a single shot. There are many images that spring to mind when I think of rain, but most need rain funnily enough. The half day I had to take the shots was the first sunny day in about two weeks. Murphy’s law clearly has a sense of humour.

So rather than be defeated, I went for an alternative approach on a more macro scale than I had first planned. Having to make my own rain and shooting on a smaller scale.

Equipment used Nikin DSLR, 105mm lens, Nikon Speedlight flash, tripods, reflector, stand, paint tray, hose with a shower spray.


The above was my chosen image of the many I took, feeling it was the most natural looking of the set. My original intention was to produce an image of the water slashing into the tray. But I was not completely satisfied with the results (for this brief at least) and noticed how the water was dripping and slashing in the deck which is why I changed to shooting that instead.

Below are a images of the setup I used to achieve the shots.


To get a shallower angle I had to use a lower tripod for the final shot you see above. This tripod was was too small for my camera and would have toppled if not tethered to my other tripod behind.

These are other images that it liked from the shoot but discounted for various reasons, for this exercise at least:

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DSC_6516_DxO DSC_6446_DxO

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Assignment four feedback – Applying lighting techniques

What follows is my tutors feed back, my comments are in blue italics. I am really pleased with the feedback and the helpful hints for using smaller flash units and mirrors to increase the distance from the flash in a small space. Thank you.

Overall Comments

Another full and well photographed submission. I look forward to seeing it in detal.

Feedback on exercises
Your submission looks full and well illustrated as usual. Your exercises are extensive and I can see that you have put a lot of time and effort into them. They are all illustrated with images which are, in my opinion, good enough to be used in a publication on the subjects and topics covered. In short: they are very professional.

Feedback on assignment: Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

The first image is a black and white silhouette of your chosen subject – a Lily. On closer inspection I can see on an enlarged view that the shot is in fact, colour. The strong backlighting has created a very subtle, almost monochrome image with very slight hints of the original colour. This is your choice for ‘Shape’. I think you have created a really nice shape against the white background here. The flowing forms of the leaves, and the bulbous heads of the unopened flowers create a wonderful shape. As you say yourself, you have described the shape of the Lily perfectly. This shot is a really strong start to the Assignment. I would suggest you try this as a high contrast black and white image sometime, it would work very well.

Yes I agree and have re-processed in the image below :


The second image has the flower from an almost identical viewpoint, showing it in full colour against a black background, giving a totally different look. Your use of black card has improved the shot immeasurably, and the result is a very professional image. The text suggests that it was lit by one flash, and I’m sure that is true, but it also has some fill-in too.

Form – the third image shows a more contrasty image, with strong colours. This is lit very well and has accentuated the grooves in the leaves and the unopened flower. The next picture is a closer in shot of one of the buds. The lighting is as before: strong, and the colour is vibrant against the black background. By getting in closer on this one, you have been able to create a shot with more emphasis on composition. The arrangement of the shapes in this shot is really strong and the extra effort in this has created a much better picture than a pure record shot.

In ‘Texture’ you have gone for a close up section of the bud, creating a colourful image with a strong diagonal. I don’t know what the technical details were for this shot, but there is a very shallow area in focus. I know that depth of field is reduced in close up shots, and you were relying on small flashguns with limited output, but you may wish to attempt a sharper version.

The way to do this is to fire the flashguns a number of times whilst having the shutter open (in a totally dark room). Doubling the flash firings gives one extra stop of light, doubling that again gives another stop and so on:
1 flash – original exposure
2 flashes – one stop more light
4 flashes – two stops extra light
8 flashes – three stops extra light.

The second texture shot is a perfect match for the first, it occupies the exact same area as the first shot and displays complimentary colours. The exposure and detail is excellent, and the flatter form of the leaf has created less of a problem with the depth of field.

Colour – how to best to show an objects colour.
The flower is represented in the same position as the beginning shot, and has now been lit by diffused front/top lighting. This is a much better shot for showing the colour, than the shot in the smaller thumbnail. The diffuse light has meant that more of the flower is lit, without reflected highlights or deep shadows and this gives a larger area of colour. The image is clear and professional and could almost be a very detailed botanical illustration from Victorian times.
Your final two paragraphs are your conclusion and within them you state the process and the difficulties you encountered.

To answer your question about the contrast difference between highlight and shadow areas, due to the closeness of the flashgun: If you point your flashgun in exactly the opposite direction – towards a mirror, you can increase your distance. This should give you less of an exposure problem from one side of the flower to the other.

Another excellent submission, there’s not much more I can say.

Assignment four – Applying lighting techniques

The purpose of the assignment is to show our new found knowledge of lighting to bring out particular physical properties of the same subject. These were to be based on four themes; Shape, Form, Texture and Colour.

Equipment used Nikon DSLR, 105mm Micro lens, 50mm lens, tripod, 2x Nikon Speedlight flash guns, 2x light stands, 2x diffusion brollies, a snoot (tin foil), backdrop holder, reflectors white and black (card), wine bottle filled with water (holds flower better than a vase for photos; key learning here..)

First things first, to choose the subject, this was not an easy task, I went through many options before landing, almost by accident, on the Asian Lily. I considered portraits, models, ornaments, trainers, bonsai, roses, drift wood and bark to name but a few and all of which I discounted for various reasons. The Lily was the best combination for size (I have only a small area to work in), colour and texture (when more closely inspected).

Shape – This is the outline of an object.


Above the silhouette describes the shape of the Lily perfectly, showing the outline of the twin headed stem. This was shot with two flashguns illuminating a white background and a reflector place to bounce just a little light from the right hand side to give the vaguest hint of colour to the mostly black silhouette.


Keeping to the same point of view, just raising the camera slightly to capture the top on the front leaf. I changed the background to black and a single flash as a point light source and lit this shot form behind the subject just out of camera view. In the thumbnail image you will see the flash flaring into the lens even with a lens hood. I had to black card placed strategically between the lens and flash to stop the flare and not reflect onto the subject.

Form – the volume of an object, it’s three dimensional qualities.


This image was to show the form of the entire subject, trying to imply its three dimensional qualities. Shot with a single flash to the left at approximately ninety degrees to the subject, using a snoot on the end of the flash to focus the light just to where I want it and stopping unwanted illumination of the background. Plus a white card placed to the right to bounce just a little light back onto the right side. Deliberately allowing shadow from the leaf on the left to cut across the one on the right, helping to emphasise depth.


This next image was to close in on the subject, using the same lighting setup as before, but moving things around a little to place one leaf across the view of the other also to use a shallow depth of field to accentuate the distance from these foreground and background leaves. I moved the lighting around to the front slightly to accentuate the creases in the  surface of the flower bud, giving it a sense of depth and form.

Texture – fine surface details of an object.

The texture on the Lily is good but fine in detail, so for both detail images I went in close with a macro lens, however still using the flash lights at hard angles to create a lighting situation that would accentuate the fine detail.


Single diffused flash light source from above and behind, angled at sixty degrees to facing back to the camera and subject.


Single point light source flash at ninety degrees to the side the subject and just above level with it to produce a very oblique angle showing the ribs in the leaf, whilst just enough illumination shows the additional surface texture.

Colour – how best to show an objects colour.


Changing again to the white background, which I felt gave a cleaner palette to show the subjects colour, this time with a single diffuse frontal flash to best capture the true colour of the Lily. With a secondary diffused flash ensures the background has no shadow. As I commented in my notes above I had only a small space to work in.


Moving in to capture a single bud and a little more surface area of the leaf this time and hence its colour. In the thumbnail you can see I originally lit this shot, with a diffuse flash source, slightly form the right of camera position, however due the the orientation of the leaf it’s colour was darker than was accurate. The larger final shot was lit from a slightly raised left of camera position better lighting the bud and the leaf.

Overall I am very pleased with the results, this was not an easy assignment to do well. The way I approached it was to give myself a few hours to setup and take an initial set of images. Then sit down and review them on my computer, review the text for the assignment again, mark-up the images up in the categories of Shape, Form, Texture and Colour, chose a few preferred shots for each and then went back to see if I could improve on them. Through this process I came to the images you see above, end to end including, tidying up, image processing and writing up my notes took a good day.

The key problem I came across was that due to the confined space I was often unable to move the flash far enough away, mainly for the point light source shots. This meant that the contrast difference from the lit side to the shadow was often at the limits of the sensor. My solution was to use exposure compensation and shoot in RAW in increase the dynamic range. Even so this has not completely solved the problem as you can see in some of the highlights. I would be interested to learn in the feedback, a way to solve this problem.

33 Cloudy weather and rain

This exercise is in a number of parts; the first to take the same scene in sunlight and under cloud, of two or three different subjects; the second to take three photographs on a cloudy day that make good use of the shadowless cloudy day; the third to take two or more images in rain. These tasks were completed over a number of days, waiting for sun, cloud and or rain.

Equipment used Nikon DSLR, 35mm, 105mm, 28-300mm lenses and a rain coat..

Sun & Cloud

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In the two images above, you can see the contrast is considerably increased in the top (sun) image, with the light highlights and dark shadows, the colours also have more contrast. The sun shot was taken at 1/125 f5.6 and the cloudy shot was 1/60 f2.8 meaning the is three stops difference between the two shots.


In the images above the left (sun) shot has considerably more contrast than the image (cloud) on the right. You can see that the shadows are very soft on the cloudy image and the overall tonal range and colour are flatter.



This image would normally be covered in various shadows from all the trees around the area. However under a cloudy sky you can see the tractor, field and stream without harsh contrasts.


In sun light these flowers would have harsh highlights on their tops and dark loss of detail in the shadow. Normally you would expose for the highlight loosing the details below, under a cloudy sky the contrast is much more even and the detail easier to capture.


During a sunny day it would be very difficult to hold the detail at the top of the building whilst holding the detail in the narrow alley way.



Rainbow over the Melbourne CDB, which can only be created by rain and sun at the same time. A good example of being in the right place at the right time.


In a seemingly never ending shower, these raindrops were beading quite nicely on some reeds nearby. It was so dull that I had to use flash to make them stand out from the reed.

I found this exercise a little difficult due to the disjointed nature of having to use different conditions over many days.

32 Variety with a low sun

For the low sun exercise there are a number of elements to answer, showing some of the advantages of shooting when the sun is low. Any subject in sunlight can be chosen for the images but they must show four elements; frontal lighting, side lighting, back lighting and edge lighting. Anybody who wishes to do this with repeatable results should look at buying the Sol app for their phone as it gives you accurate timings for the ‘golden hour’ and civil darkness etc. for any location.

Equipment used Nikon DSLR, 28-300mm lens and tripod as required. Image processing in Nikon NX2 and DXO.

Front lighting – sun behind the camera striking the subject fully.

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The sun here is very low almost in the water behind me. Trying to keep my inifnately long shadow out of the shot and the sun  glare from the windows has meant keeping very low and slightly to the right. 

Side lighting – with the sun to the left or the right.


With the sun setting over the bay the, west side of the Melbourne CDB buildings catch the last of the light before it quickly disappears, leaving the east side of each in heavy shadow and the lower foreground already dark. Being the tallest the gold top of the Eureka Tower is last to see the end of the days sun.

Back lighting – shooting towards the light.


The sun here is behind and slightly to the left of shot. I did not try punch in an exposure compensation here, instead I spot metered of the models face.

Edge lighting – sun outside the frame, lighting the edge of the subject.


Moving the subject round so the sun is clipping the back right of the model and the hair, creating an edge light. I kept the sun just out of top left of the image to create the halos in the image.