Friday, January 22, 2010

No cost photographic lighting

click photo to enlarge
I sometimes think I'm a bit of a cheapskate when it comes to lighting. I've looked at photographic lights, reflectors, backgrounds, desktop studios and the like, and invariably my response has been, "I'm not paying that!" It may be that the items I reject are reasonably priced for what they are, though I think that's frequently not the case. However, it isn't the absolute price that I'm considering when I decide to reject the manufacturers' offerings, and the calculation that goes on in my mind has three components. Firstly the kind of use to which I'm likely to put fixed lighting and backdrops, secondly the price being asked, and thirdly the output that I'm already achieving with my no-cost DIY lighting. When I factor those together I always end up carrying on with what I've already got.

Most of my lit photography is still life shots, close-ups and macros. Often there is a semi-abstract angle to the latter two approaches. If I were doing "product" style photography, portraits, etc then my thinking might be different. But, shooting what I do, I'm fairly happy with natural light, a single flashgun, sheets of black and white vinyl for backdrops and reflectors, and for fixed lighting, ordinary domestic light bulbs.

Today's photograph is an example of my minimalist approach to the fixed-light photography of a semi-abstract subject. It shows a macro view into an empty, green glass, apple juice bottle. The "studio" set up was to place it on a sheet of white A4 paper on my desk. This was pulled out of one of the two printers that sit there. Then I adjusted my anglepoise light so that it illuminated the side of the bottle. Finally, I hand-held the LX3, set to macro, at the mouth of the bottle and composed a few shots into the emptiness. It's not the greatest photograph I've ever taken, but it is the one I wanted, having shallow depth of field but with the writing at the bottom sharp, concentric circles with the focal point off centre, areas of dark and light, and a light source that is obviously to one side.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2
Shutter Speed: 1/60
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On