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Thread: How much do You understand light? Technical

  1. #1

    Default How much do You understand light? Technical

    I was wondering how we perceive and understand light, and the use of light, since it's the back-bone of photography.

    I came across this site: http://www.sararemington.net/book1.html and her works are simply astounding.

    So subtle, serene and yet dynamic enough to entice the viewer to want to see more...

    Have a look at:

    Book I, 7th slide, right pix

    Book I, 8th slide, right pix

    and especially

    Book I, 11th slide, left pix (apples)

    Book I, last slide (eggs)

    Book II, 1st slide, right pix

    Book II, 5th slide, right pix


    In her description, natural light is mentioned. But look at the amount of control she has! Do you think she used other (artificial) sources as well? What kind of reflectors is she using...the quality of light looks different than most of the reflector shots I see. Was a lot of post production work done?

    How do you think she did those shots?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    i think she's extremely skillful in composing the shots (arranging the items to catch the light at the ''right'' angles)

    i think reflectors are used for some of the shots as well. maybe just simple pieces of white papers or cardboards?

  3. #3

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    Composition has a lot to do with it.

    But that light-if it's mostly natural, it seems almost transcendental (to me anyways). Ahhh...

    Any of you guys know how to replicate something like that? I would love to do that, just once in my life.

  4. #4

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    I was wondering how we perceive and understand light, and the use of light, since it's the back-bone of photography.

    I came across this site: http://www.sararemington.net/book1.html and her works are simply astounding.

    So subtle, serene and yet dynamic enough to entice the viewer to want to see more...

    Have a look at:

    Book I, 7th slide, right pix

    Book I, 8th slide, right pix

    and especially

    Book I, 11th slide, left pix (apples)

    Book I, last slide (eggs)

    Book II, 1st slide, right pix

    Book II, 5th slide, right pix


    In her description, natural light is mentioned. But look at the amount of control she has! Do you think she used other (artificial) sources as well? What kind of reflectors is she using...the quality of light looks different than most of the reflector shots I see. Was a lot of post production work done?

    How do you think she did those shots?
    Just have to remember.. Light travels in straight lines. You just need to place a table near the window and shoot with the ambient light. Not that difficult. It's just the angle where you shoot from. Plus, her composition is good, exposure is good, colour is good...

    If you can't move the light, move the subject and yourself. I shoot mostly in ambient light also.

  5. #5

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    To understand light in the most scientific way, you need to understand the theory of wave and how light propagates as mentioned by LSISaxon.

    To take your knowledge to another level in relation to light, you need to also understand optics, reflections & refractions.

    And to take it even further to another level, you need to know chemistry (for film in photography) and electronics to understand how the CCD/CMOS works.

    Combine the knowledge of physics of light, optics & some knowlegde in how the imaging sensor works and you can probably safely say that you understand light in the most technical way.
    DXNMedia.net
    Post Production | Video Acquisition | Tape Transfers | Microwave RF Camera Services

  6. #6

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    Did sum research...apparently, Ms Remington was trained in cinematography and film, then later changed to photography with a secondary interest in film. Her first 'big break' was for a 7-pg magazine article on chefs and farmers, and unexpectedly, she got the cover! She's 27, and has been doing this for 3 years now.

  7. #7

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    Quote Originally Posted by lsisaxon View Post
    Just have to remember.. Light travels in straight lines. You just need to place a table near the window and shoot with the ambient light. Not that difficult. It's just the angle where you shoot from. Plus, her composition is good, exposure is good, colour is good...

    If you can't move the light, move the subject and yourself. I shoot mostly in ambient light also.
    Black boards sometimes can be helpful too for blocking out diffused light reflected from other surfaces.

    BC

  8. #8

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    I am also trained in cinematography and have been teaching for quite some time while still practising in the film/video industry....sadly in Singapore & also in NYC or CA, cinematography is a very closed area of specialisation and it's very hard to break into the industry....i guess it's quite natural for her to move into photography with a cinematography background.

    From her still images, I see that she always employ the techniques of lighting for cinematography in her photography work. (ie. She plays with light falling on shapes, accentuates the highlight & specular diffusions and more importantly, she's not employing the use of flash photography.)

    In cinematography, I must share that other than being creative in art aesthetics/composition/framing, one must be technically competent in the areas of physics & science too.

    Just my 2 cents worth...
    DXNMedia.net
    Post Production | Video Acquisition | Tape Transfers | Microwave RF Camera Services

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    apart from the technical side of things, i think alot has to do with her abilities to make the story in each frame as well that makes her works so attractive.

  10. #10

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts guys.

    Hmm, mabbie I should go back and re-read all the basics of light in fine arts applications like still life painting and so on. Might help a bit.
    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 27th July 2007 at 12:16 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    Did sum research...apparently, Ms Remington was trained in cinematography and film, then later changed to photography with a secondary interest in film. Her first 'big break' was for a 7-pg magazine article on chefs and farmers, and unexpectedly, she got the cover! She's 27, and has been doing this for 3 years now.
    That explains! Cinematography is several leagues higher than what photography demands. Not easy!!

  12. #12

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    Light is for the camera.
    Beauty, story, tragedy or truth are for the photographer.

  13. #13

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    Quote Originally Posted by DXNMedia View Post
    To understand light in the most scientific way, you need to understand the theory of wave and how light propagates as mentioned by LSISaxon.

    To take your knowledge to another level in relation to light, you need to also understand optics, reflections & refractions.

    And to take it even further to another level, you need to know chemistry (for film in photography) and electronics to understand how the CCD/CMOS works.

    Combine the knowledge of physics of light, optics & some knowlegde in how the imaging sensor works and you can probably safely say that you understand light in the most technical way.
    Basically, it's all about light and scattering. Can even do a PhD on it if you go deep enough.. But once got a PhD, tan bo chia already..
    Last edited by lsisaxon; 27th July 2007 at 03:48 PM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    Sara Remington is highly classical with her lighting technique, it is the kind of lighting the portrait photographers in the glass plate era would use. High windows and side windows type of directional light. Quite a minimalist style I would say, and she follows strictly the rule of having one light source.

    Lighting itself is something that has to be felt than learnt. I find myself replicating characteristics of natural light more often. Also, natural light itself is so complex, more often it is more difficult to do digital touch ups than touching up images shot in the studio.

  15. #15

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    Quote Originally Posted by Scriabinesque View Post
    Sara Remington is highly classical with her lighting technique, it is the kind of lighting the portrait photographers in the glass plate era would use. High windows and side windows type of directional light. Quite a minimalist style I would say, and she follows strictly the rule of having one light source.

    Lighting itself is something that has to be felt than learnt. I find myself replicating characteristics of natural light more often. Also, natural light itself is so complex, more often it is more difficult to do digital touch ups than touching up images shot in the studio.
    But again, it is because of this complexity that it will be very hard to replicate exactly what you have done that makes it a unique art piece.

  16. #16

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    This is getting more and more interesting, thanks to the contributions!

    Directional high window light. Ahh...now I gotta go knock another hole in my wall ... or move to San Francisco! LOL!

    But seriously, there must be more than one source, no? Even if the term source is used to identify reflectors. And I'm guessing all along that the main window must have some kind of diffusers for such a soft, yet directional light. Organza or lace perhaps?

    She's based in the Frisco Bay area, and slides #13 and #14 in Book II might give us a hint at what sort of lighting conditions she uses for some of her shots. However, if you look at the window and interior shots, the quality of light looks ever so slightly different than that of the food photos. Also consider the shots that were done at the restaurant locations (I'm guessing they were location shots).

    Don't you find it fascinating, yet so frustrating all at the same time? I wonder why there aren't many others trying to have a go at this. Afterall, imagine if many of the portrait or still-life shooters can harness this kind of lighting technique!
    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 27th July 2007 at 05:15 PM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    It is true, and quite hard to replicate sometimes. Sometimes the light may not be diffused by the window. It may be a soft light that comes in from a window, diffused outside the window...it is very fun!! Softened directional light and directional softened light...haha.

    Often if I have to use artificial lighting I find myself using the barebulb option very often too...haha

  18. #18

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Merchant View Post
    Don't you find it fascinating, yet so frustrating all at the same time? I wonder why there aren't many others trying to have a go at this. Afterall, imagine if many of the portrait or still-life shooters can harness this kind of lighting technique!
    Something like this? Shot in a foodcourt with the light coming in from the glass window.


    Or this.. Light from the lamp only. I thought it casted a nice light on the leaves, so I took this shot.


    This is a shot using a PnS. I wanted to capture how dirty the foodcourt utensils are.
    Last edited by lsisaxon; 27th July 2007 at 06:02 PM.

  19. #19

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    Quote Originally Posted by Scriabinesque View Post
    It is true, and quite hard to replicate sometimes. Sometimes the light may not be diffused by the window. It may be a soft light that comes in from a window, diffused outside the window...it is very fun!! Softened directional light and directional softened light...haha.

    Often if I have to use artificial lighting I find myself using the barebulb option very often too...haha
    Barebulb is a point source and it gives harsh shadows. Better to use a softbox.

  20. #20

    Default Re: How much do You understand light? Technical

    That looks like the light came mainly from the back, kinda like almost directly going by the shadow on the table, whereas Sara's seems a lot more side, rear-side, or even side-frontal. Hmm...did that make sense?

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