Taking the photography of Mann, Atget or Schmidt or a photographer of your own choosing as your starting point, shoot a number of photographs exploring the quality of natural light. The exercise should be done in manual mode and the important thing is to observe the light, not just photograph it. In your learning log, and using the descriptions above as your starting point, try to describe the quality of the light in your photographs in own words.
Daylight can display a lot of varying characteristics, I think as a photographer it’s fundamentally important to be able to act in different lighting scenarios. I wanted to emphasise the different colours as well, the hues, the tonality – and also how my camera would behave too, taking advantage of all of the modern metering systems.
Conceptually, this image is part of a small collection of the different Volvo station wagons around Sheffield. The main idea being that they seem to match every space they dominate – I think it has a lot to do with how ugly the cars are. The day was really overcast too, not much on the warmer colour temperature spectrum. I shot it on a Leica SL with their 24mm wide angle lens – perfect combination, definitely overkill in scenarios like this, but the metering is flawless. The raws allow you to take full advantage of Leica’s cutting edge colour science and depth – the overcast lighting ended up reacting incredibly well considering my aim was the capture a purposely ‘boring’ or ‘uneventful’ setting. The whole point of these images is to feel cold and detached, this is why I personally love the way that the light behaves in this one.
This was taken on Fuji Superia 400 35mm film on the Nikon F5 – this was an incredibly warm day, the tonality in this image is incredibly saturated. I used a 70-300 Nikkor lens so this is taken at F5.6 – I could have taken this at F11 because the sun was bright but in this occasion I wanted to really isolate the scene with as much bokeh as I could considering I was zoomed pretty much all of the way in at 300mm – I personally like the fact that the flowers, as well as the grass you can see on the right are on different planes so you can feel a little bit more separation. I don’t really tend to do telephoto shots like this, but I really like the way that each element in this photo fills it perfectly, also the contrasting colours between the two vehicles. When shooting film pictures I like to have a somewhat ‘painterly’ vibe – I use that term loosely. I like to make the photo seem like it wouldn’t feel out of place on the back of a postcard. Fuji Superia is well known for its unique colour palette with cool green undertones and soft warm/orange highlights. I think directly sunny situations are best suited for this type of film, one of the reasons I I’ve always shot film is directly because of the way they react to light. At this moment there were no clouds in the sky at all, the lack of clouds allowed the light to beam directly down onto the scene and soak the scene in bright orange, warm light. I shot this at 1/2000th of a second (yes, I know that’s quick) but this was shot at the beginning of spring and because the film is iso 400 and I was shooting at 5.6 there was way too much light bouncing around – I had to make sure the shutter was moving quick.
This was an alternative image I’d shot at a wider focal length on the same film stock, as you can see there’s an endless array of different compositions I could have gone for – I do favour my chosen composition more because of the visual compression. I could have easily included the black car, the white rusted car behind it – but I think the 2010 Mazda on the far left really ruins the whole vibe. This was shot at 5.6 again but this time at 70mm. I think the layout of this feels cluttered and the effect the sunlight had on the film isn’t as intense and hallucinatory as the chosen one above. This has a lot to do with the fact that clouds rolled over and diffused the sunlight, this made the image feel a lot darker at the same settings. You can really see the change in the scene from the last shot now that the clouds have come over.
This was taken on a Leica TL2 with their 28mm F1.4 lens – this was shot at the widest aperture, I wanted this to emphasise the viewpoint and the different visual planes. As you can see the light acts almost completely different on a digital sensor. All of the warmer characteristics of Fujifilm is missing in this one. I do like the cooler feeling in this image, but I don’t prefer it over the previous images at all. I think it’s a different image, portraying a different message. “Rust” is more about the passing of time and the feeling of being left behind, whereas Previously Red is more about feeling nostalgia for a time period in which I wasn’t born. I tried to portray this by shooting a car that’s been sun-bleached to the point it’s almost unrecognisable when compared to it’s previous self – the same way Gen Z’s often feel a sense of nostalgia for the 60’s despite the fact it was riddled with conflict, racism, homophobia – the version they admire is through rose tinted goggles. I try to portray this concept a lot in my personal work.
“God used me for a Sun Beam”
This image was taken at F4, 1/180th of a second on Fuji Superia 400 with the Nikkor 50mm. This was taken at a taken at a turning point on my path to sobriety, this was one of those once in a lifetime images. I would often go to Sunday service to ‘cleanse’ my soul so to speak, this was after my year long addiction to class A drugs. This was due to the fact I’m self employed and wasn’t able to work for almost a year due to the pandemic – this caused my mental health to deteriorate rapidly as me and my whole family weren’t able to properly financial support each other with barely enough money to cover bills. My dad’s health also started to decline as he suffers from blindness which makes him incredibly vulnerable to the virus, on top of the fact he’s a POC which are already a lot more likely to transmit COVID. I feel like this image shows a turning point in my mental wellbeing, I don’t tend to have any emotional connection with any of my works but because this one has a lot of personal attachment it has a place in my heart. Shot on 35mm again, this has similar colour palette as some of the ones seen previously. The weirdest part of this image is that it was our first mass since the pandemic hit. Me, my partner and my friend had to spread out due to social distancing but the volumetric light beams shone on us three directly for the whole service in three completely different directions – it’s incredibly strange when you take into consideration the fact that all three of us had struggled with addiction that year and made an active choice to improve our mental health by going to church. I wish this had some mystical explanation but in actuality it’s that churches such as these are often built with mirrors and projection glass to amplify the amount of light coming through the windows – it’s almost like the way a fresnel glass will project and direct light in Lighthouses. When you combine this with the fact that they burn incense you get these incredibly pronounced sunbeams that look even more impressive in person – I wish the image was more of an accurate representation of the way the light behaved. Luckily I had my camera to document this behaviour as volumetric light has become somewhat of a trend again now that pages like Cinesomnia, The Moody Darkroom are constantly increasing in popularity – as well as the increasing demand of films stocks like Portra and Cinestill 800t.
This was another photograph following the Volvo trend. I feel like there’s a trend across Sheffield of letting cars rust on your front lawn – this is another example. This was shot on digital. I really like how the light pierces the trees and illuminates the rest of the scene. I think the colours work really well here too, I used auto white balance as well considering I was shooting raw. I also shot relatively wide open at 2.8 to blur out the foreground to focus on the layout of the composition. I crouched down as well so the scene felt longer, I like the camera to feel close to the ground. I think the vanishing point being off to the left side is also pretty nice, I feel like everything starts from the archway and the leading lines direct your eyes through the scene – this makes it feel more three dimensional. I could have probably set this at 50iso but I chose 200 to get more information in the shadow areas without losing too much information in the highlights. The highlights are important here, because you want the sunlight to feel as if it’s penetrating the scene, beaming down, I didn’t want it to feel dull.