Exercise 11: The Lighting Angle

For this next assignment looking at photographic lighting I am to look at how the angle of the light effects and alters the subject and how that appears in the final image from its form, texture, shape, and colour.

I continued with the same subject matter as the previous exercise as I was curious to see how the lighting angle may effect the shadows, especially as we shoot towards the light.

I therefore placed the subject on a small table covered in a white card, also placing a larger white cloth further back, this gave an uniformed look throughout the image but also allowed plenty of space to move around the subject.


This first image, taken with the light source just to the right of the camera. The colours look good but it is rather flat.

IMG_9852With the light now at 45 degrees to the right we start to see a bigger tonal range, with more definition on the greens and detail.

IMG_9853With the light coming directly from the right in this image the highlights picked up nicely in the small vase give a good sense of form and sale while the tonal range adds further interest and depth.

IMG_9854Similar to the previous image the highlights on the vase give good form and shape while the colours however appear flat and subdued.

IMG_9857Shooting into the light as I have here gives the image a silhouetted appearance giving a strong sense of the shape and form, however colour is almost non-existent.

IMG_9858Being lit from the left now we get a similar effect onto the vase as the precious images but with the right hand purple flower being further away it appears darker.


This image is lit nicely from the side, the gentle light across the white flower is really apparent as it gets darker quickly.


This last image taken from 45 degrees to the left shows again the interesting light how it falls onto the vase and a more covered light throughout the flowers giving a more contrasted and stronger appearance in colours.


The above lighting diagram shows the position of the lights for each image going from the camera to the right for each image while also trying to maintain the same distance for each image.

IMG_9864For this next set of images, including the one above the light is now placed in the same position as the previous but in this instance it is higher up and looking down at an angle of 45 degrees onto the subject, which is apparent in the shorter shadows and fuller light on the heads of the flowers.


This image, taken from 45 degrees left across the subject, shows in similarity to the previous of this set up a strong side light that produces a nice balance of light and shadow, however due to the lights placement above the subject it best suits this subject by lighting the focal point of the flowers well.


Now as I move the light behind the subject we are losing elements of colour and detail in the greens but it does give a more moody feel to the image.


This image, with the light directly behind and above the subject gives an interesting and nice light that illuminates the flowers nicely and dissipates effectively yet still giving the vase form with highlights.

IMG_9872For this image, taken with the light now doing from the back right corner we see again an interesting side light that effectively picks up the form and shape of the flowers while giving it an interesting detail on the petals.

IMG_9873Taken with the light directly to the side of the subject, the angle and height of the light source effectively captures the flowers detail and colour while also producing an interesting shadow that effectively helps with the form.

IMG_9874With the light now coming predominately from the front the overall colour of the subject is obviously lighter and more contrasted however slight detail is lost in the white flower.

IMG_9875With the light directly over the camera now we can see the shadow slightly behind the subject, this gives it a more opposing presence and the flatter light effectively brings out the colours.


This diagram shows the positioning of the light throughout the previous eight images and the sequence.

For the final part of the exercise I was asked to photograph the subject with the light above. I therefore seemed assistance in holding the studio lighting unit with soft box over the subject.

IMG_9877This first image shows the light placed above the subject and slightly in front, this really captures the colours of the subject really well and also the small vase is lit to show its shape.

IMG_9876This image shows similarly to the previous the light above the subject but in this case it was placed slightly behind. We still maintain the same strong lighting on the heads of the flowers but the greens are slightly less vibrant.

IMG_9878This final image shows the light directly above the subject, this in my opinion is the strongest of the three, the vibrancy of colours and contrast really effectively stand out while the light, minus the darker background is even underneath.

I really enjoyed this exercise I found it vastly improved my knowledge and understanding on how the smallest adjustments in lighting can visually impact the subject matter and its appearance. I think it was clear to see through the image and my annotations that the position of the light is integral to showing the form, shape, texture and colour of the subject and certain angles suit each more, for example the side light shows form and shape well while the colour of a subject is best seen with a more frontal flat light. By placing the light at a 45 degree angle looking down the light we see that the 45-degree rule will work fine if the photographer gets the lights far enough away from the subject surface. In fact, the rule often does serve well because photographers generally do move the lights farther away from the subject for yet another reason, to obtain even illumination.[1] This is certainly the case when working with portraits as it gives a traditional shadow of the nose. I look forward to continuing the work with photographic lighting, I have found from other students it is not the most enjoyable but I find it fascinating how the control of the light and in most cases subject allows the photographer the control to produce something entirely of their creation.


[1][1] Fil Hunter, Steven Biver & Paul Fuqua (2011). Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting, Focal Press. Page 57


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