As I was not sure whether my photographs for the highlight clipping exercise would work, or produce the correct results, I actually took two batches of images; the first I did manage to use for the original exercise (posted May 2nd 2013), and as I have another set of results, I thought I would share them too.
As before, I set the scene using a black velvet backdrop to soak up any residual light and a white floor to break up the black and give an almost two-toned effect to the background. This time round, I used one diffused light source to the right of the image and no additional lighting to the left of the shot. My ‘model’ was now accustomed to both my working style and requirements so quiet patiently sat through this shoot in the perfect position.
Again, using my Nikon D800 set on manual mode; I dialed in my aperture to F5.3, the widest I could achieve and governed my exposure by changing shutter speed. Having already played with distance etc. in the first round of photos, I sat my camera on its tripod and left my focal length at 105 mm.
There is a massive difference with the results of this exercise, which will become obvious as I work through the photos.
As before, the first image was taken so that the highlights were ‘just clipped’.
This first shot shows the mug with the ‘just clipped’ highlights turned on, and as expected, due to there being only one source of light on the mug, the clipping is more concentrated to the right of the frame. Those areas dominated by the pattern of the mug are more clipped, being closest to the light source, but these highlights are not completely blown and some detail is still visible, which is a different result to the one we saw in the original exercise. The detail to the left of the frame is only just visible and the outline of the mug and spoon can only just be made out in the frame.
In the next image, the shutter speed has been reduced by 1-stop leading to a more over exposed shot.
As expected, we can see that the clipping has spread in this shot, but the light is less saturating here than in the original exercise. Again, I think this is due to there being only one source of light penetrating the light box as the left side of the image is still struggling to catch the available light. Here we do have a better view of the whole mug than previously, as the slower shutter speed has enable the sensor to capture the available light for a little longer allowing for the whole mug to be illuminated. Another major difference to the original exercise is that even though the clipping is greater in this shot, there are no completely blown areas on the mug and all of the detail is available within the frame.
Continuing with the next image, the shutter speed has been increased by 2-stops, so it is now 1-stop greater than the original image.
With a 2-stop reduction in shutter speed, we can see that the highlights have really pulled back now and even those areas closest to the light source are not showing any clipping. Although the right side of the image is nicely exposed, the left side of the frame is really becoming quiet dark now with the edge of the mug almost lost to the shadows.
Increasing the shutter speed by an additional stop has once again reduced the clipping in the mug, but the image as a whole has started to get very dark now with the complete loss of detail in the left of the frame and the black areas of the mug in the right of the frame blending in with the background. My favorite thing about this shot is the lighting on the flow and how the subtle shadows are elongated through the frame.
Finally we have the image with 3-stops of shutter speed reduction.
In this last image, we have lost the highlight clipping completely, but we have also lost about half of the image to the shadows. The available light is working really well with the pattern of the mug to the right and the 3D effect, as seen in some of the images from the original exercise have returned. Although, by gaining this effect, we have lost all of the mugs black edges to the background and shadows and the teabag, which has always been a little translucent is now quiet dull and uninteresting in the photograph.
I am glad I decided to document this second exercise, as for someone like me, who has little knowledge surrounding staged lighting, I have been able to see some of the differences achieved when using different light sources to light an object. There are some photos in the first batch that I prefer over the second batch, but there are also some photos in the second batch that I prefer over the first, so it is, once again, a case of playing around with lighting and settings to get the most appealing, and where necessary the best results possible. I have always shone away from photographing indoors, and especially from using photographic lighting, but the few occasions I have now done so have been easier than I expected, so I look forward to future opportunities in the course to conduct this kind of photography again.