Assignment four: Applying lighting techniques

For this assignment it is required to draw together the different lighting techniques studied  and apply them to one object. The idea is to use new knowledge of lighting to bring out particular physical properties of the same subject.

“Choose any object you can move around and take a selection of photographs of it, each in a different kind of lighting. You can use any light at all, from daylight to available artificial light, to photographic lighting.” I had a number of ideas for the subject to use and after a number of test runs decided to use a ceramic sculpture of a blue hare which has unusual textures and subtle colours which I hoped would be accentuated with various lighting techniques.

Shape: This quality has to do with the outline of an object – it’s edges. These are more likely to stand out more clearly if they contrast with the background, and if there is minimum detail visible in the object.

_GWD5270 1/25 sec @ f11.0_GWD52721/25 sec @ f11.0

Both photographs were taken indoors on a bright day with the backdrop of a closed window-blind to diffuse the light. This had the effect of making the window a type of large soft-box. I orientated the hare in two different positions to accentuate the different shapes demonstrated.

Form: This is another way to describe the volume of an object – how 3 dimensional it looks. The modelling effect of the light and the way you deal with the shadows is all important. Try to show as much depth as possible.

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To demonstrate the 3D effect of the sculpture I used tungsten downlighting in a dark environment to create shadows and depth against a background of a canvas photograph.

Texture: This is the quality of the surface detail. Fine detail, such as sandstone and skin, stands out best with a pattern of small, hard shadows, so you will have to consider both the diffusion (or lack of it) and the angle of light.

_GWD52941/2 sec @ f16.0

_GWD52791/60 sec @ f22.0

I used two different kinds of lighting here with the top one utilising tungsten downlighting and the bottom photo direct flash lighting.

Colour: Choose a kind of lighting and exposure setting that shows the subject’s colour (or colours) as strongly as possible. In addition, you could photograph your subject in any other interesting, unusual or attractive lighting.

_GWD52801/30 sec @ f16.0_GWD52831/50 sec @ f1.8

These two examples shows the effect different lighting has on the colours of an object. The top image is photographed in natural sunlight against a green grass background and produces a mauve tint to the sculpture.

The second lower image is photographed with a direct spotlight and highlights the bright blues of the sculpture.

This assignment has been the most challenging so far for me. Perhaps due to the fact that I was lacking certain lighting accessories and that there were many lengthy exercises. However it has been very interesting and I have learn a lot on how different lighting techniques can alter the appearance of an object or scene which will be very useful in future photographic assignments.

Tutor report on Assignment 4:

Overall Comments

Thank you for completing another assignment for feedback, Graeme. I am pleased to see that you have taken note of comments made with the last assignment and I feel sure that will continue to work hard up to the point of submitting your work.

Assessment potential 

I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.

Elements to consider with your assignments:

This assignment asks you to draw together the different lighting techniques that you have been studying and apply them to one object. The idea is to use your new knowledge of lighting to bring our particular physical properties of the same object. It is also a test of your observation.

Your assignment in connection with the above points:

You have used a sculpture of a hare as subject matter for this assignment. This has worked well for you on a technical level, allowing you to move around with ease and to experiment with different lighting effects.


Backlighting has been used very effectively here to demonstrate shape. The blinds have helped you to create a source of diffused light from the window – as you point out, forming a natural soft box. Positioning your subject in front of this has resulted in a silhouetted outline which shows the shape very clearly.


You have worked very well with angles of view here alongside your lighting techniques and by doing so managed to achieve the desired aim or including 3-D detail of your subject. The backdrop landscape adds a nice touch of this, building on the apparent 3-d effect and adding a sense of humour to the result.


Texture detail is really starting to appear in these examples. You could also work with sharp angles – shooting from and also from a strong direct source of light to accentuate shadows and define texture. You have some nice strong colour coming through here too.


The vivid green grass has absorbed some of the colour in the first image. A more neutral background would have helped draw us to the more subtle colours of your statue. The second example, with a strong direct light source, works much better and we can also see some nice texture detail in this picture.

Summary/ Pointers for next assignment

You have worked well with the task given here, but could have taken this stage a step further, trying out some more interesting lighting setups and being a little more experimental. The last assignment asks you to work in a thematic way and to incorporate narrative. This is your opportunity to really show what you are capable of with your photography. Plan your theme carefully and choose your final images based on their ability to work together to tell the story effectively.

Learning logs/critical essays

You do need to build substantially on the research side of your work before submitting for assignment as your learning logs are looking quite sparse. Images aren’t always appearing as they should so this is also something to address.

My thoughts and reflections: 

I am generally happy with the feedback in this report as this was the most challenging assignment yet. I have very limited experience in using additional external lighting and in fact have no additional lighting equipment apart from a built in flash and hence felt restricted in what I could achieve.  I will address any images that are not appearing and continue to expand my research work.


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