Light

1 Apr

When talking about light you have to think about different things.

  • Natural or artificial light?
  • Intensity
  • Colour
  • Quality of the light (Soft, harsh…)

As I did most of the exercises with the Digital photographic practice I thought about just having a short go at the exercises and sum up the information from the learning folder.

Looking at a scene and the camera the instruments you have is ISO, shutter speed and aperture. A combination of those gives us the amount of light that is captured by the sensor when pressing the release.
While ISO and shutter speed is linear the aperture is proportional, in other words, when doubling the time you get twice the amount of light but when doubling the f-stop you get just on fourth of the  light (due to π·r²).

That probably is “nice to have”-information as the light at the beginning or the end of the days changes more rapidly than during the day in case the weather conditions are steady.

When looking at light you also have to know how the camera thinks. It has several motives saved to its memory and compares the picture you are about to take with them and decides if it knows what it is and adjusts it accordingly when you have the smart predictive setting. Otherwise, when choosing centre-weight or spot metering the camera chooses a “medium” exposure, in other words something that is between black and white.
The camera is often very good at predicting the exposure value necessary but several problems are there that have to be taken into consideration.

The first is that the dynamic range of the camera is nowhere near the one of the eye and that means that you have to decide in high-contrast scenes if you want to expose for the lighter or the darker parts. An alternative would be of course to shoot several shots and create an HDR-picture of fix it in Photoshop.

The second thing is that there are scenes that are supposed to be light or dark and that the camera is not capable of identifying them. Classic examples might be a landscape covered in snow or the inside of a theatre/cinema.

Looking at those more “extreme” lighting situations you even have to think in artistic terms: Do I want a high-key or low-key picture? (Definition: having a predominance of dark grey tones or dark colours with few highlights, respectively light and white tones, according to http://www.thefreedictionary.com/low-key)

When being uncertain which way to go or if you are not sure if you like it lighter or darker, do some bracketing, in other words shoot the same scenes with e.g. normal, plus and minus ½-1 EV-step and decide later.

Down here are some scenes where I did some bracketing.

Icehotel with a an Ice relief, the 0 EV version is about right when comparing to reality  but the lighter versions are nicer in my taste. When looking at the darker ones are all of them too dark to give a realistic and attractive impression

Ice hotel +1,5 EV

Ice hotel +1,5 EV

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IMG_3003-5

Ice hotel 0EV

Ice hotel 0EV

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Ice hotel -1,5 EV

Ice hotel -1,5 EV

Stables, again between -1,5 and 1,5 EV. here I think it is absolutely ok to go between 1,5 och -0,5, the lighter the “airier” the impression.

Stables +1,5 EV

Stables +1,5 EV

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IMG_2498-5

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Stables -1,5 EV

Stables -1,5 EV

Here I just wanted to have an outside view that included colour. It shows that the lighter the picture the less saturated the colours but on the other hand it is not that usable when too dark.

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Next a scene directly from our house across the street at night. That was chosen in order to get an impression of how very high contrast sceneries can make it difficult to choose if you go in lighter or darker. In my opinion are the highlights way too bright in the light pictures while it is too dark in the darker pictures.
HDR is the solution?

Just a test without proper alignment of the pictures can be seen down here.

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untitled_pregamma_1_mantiuk06_contrast_mapping_0.1_saturation_factor_0.8_detail_factor_1

HDR, not proper alligned, just for test purposes

Here again one of my favourite models. Svante, our dog, sleeping after a tour on the frozen east sea. He is sleeping in a bunk bed and it is not that light in the cabin. The middle picture shows the situation about how it was. The darker not usable to my taste as it makes Svante too dark and “dirty”. The lighter versions on the other hand are o.k.  but if it had exposed lighter than the lightest version there would have been problems with burned out highlights in the fur of Svante.

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Scenery on an island in the snow showing the tendencies of the camera to underexpose in light sceneries. The third picture showing the 0EV version which in my opinion is too dark already. The second (+1EV) is the best while the first suffers from burned out highlights. All darker versions are nowhere near reality or tasteful.

IMG_3369

IMG_3367

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IMG_3371

Camera in back-lighting. I wanted to take a silhouette picture as recommended in the teaching folder. Here a camera is standing in front of a light, standing on a white paper. The first two versions (-2 and -1) are not usable out of the camera as the background is too dark for what I want to come to. The third is absolutely fine, the fourth and fifth are nice as well but begin to show details in the camera, not being a silhouette but absolutely fine.

oca-009

oca-006

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Of course one can ask: Why not go for high ISO all the way and get sufficient shot shutter speeds or taking every time a wide open aperture?

Depending on the shutter speed you have to know if you want to use it artistically in e.h. panoraming or is it light enough to hold the camera steady without a tripod. Fast moving sports maybe?

Here some examples:

slow shutter speed

slow shutter speed

fast shutter speed

fast shutter speed

creativly used slow shutter speed

creativly used slow shutter speed

Aperture gives you the choice between shallow and deep DOF

ISO does nothing to the artistic value of the picture but the higher you go the more noise you get. Noise depends on electric interferences between the pixels on the sensor. The higher the sensitivity of the pixel even the sensitivity for noise is increased.
While analogue noise is accepted as ok and artistic it is not as beautiful with digital noise.
Go as low as possible but remember that it can make the difference between being able to take a picture or not if your shutter is fast enough. Noisier but fast enough is ok I think.

Down here two situations where you have to decided what combination of speed and ISO matches the scenery.

The first showing a merry-go-round with witches fitting the time around Easter. When taking ISO too low and getting a too long shutter speed you do not get an idea what the whole thing is. When going up with ISO and by that down with the exposure time the pictures get more and more attractive and you can see both the motion of the merry-go-round and the figures. Coming to the last picture the shutter speed is so high that it almost freezes the scene and it becomes boring as you cannot see the witches flying.

1/15, ISO 100

1/15, ISO 100

1/80 ISO 640

1/80 ISO 640

1/200 ISO 1250

1/200 ISO 1250

1/500 ISO 3200

1/500 ISO 3200

This scene shows ISO 100 to 800 with a scene that is immobile. I have to admit that the camera was coping much better with the light than I thought and there is almost no noise in the picture, at least no disturbing one.
On the other hand there is a problem that I did not notice and think of when I took the shot. When the exposure times were longer (lower ISO) there can some shake be seen in one picture (maybe me moving on the wooden floor?) and when the time was longest we got another phenomenon, noise reduction in the camera. As noise is both “created” by high ISO and long exposures the camera uses some noise reduction when getting long exposures and by that taking away some of the finer details. As I normally shoot in RAW I normally do not get to see the effect but those pictures were JPG. Interesting!

ISO 800

ISO 800

ISO 400

ISO 400

ISO 200

ISO 200

ISO 100

ISO 100

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