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01-31-2016, 12:28 PM   #1
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Show me...lighting comparisons

How about a thread for comparison shots of different lighting setups? I want to see multiple photos showing:
  1. Same subject, with the same framing (or pretty close)
  2. Only the lighting changes between the photos (exposure settings can vary to compensate)
  3. Brief description of the lighting used (on the photo or not)
  4. Gold star if you include diagrams or photos of the lighting setup in each case (no stars for me today)

This could be straight up comparisons of different techniques. These first two are full on sunlight vs. the sun diffused through a 60cm diameter panel:









Here's a comparison from the shade (with a touch of sun skimming from behind to the right) but with a white vs gold reflector on the side opposite the sun:





Or it could include your 'workflow' towards lighting in your final shot. For example, this turtle shell was in a shady forest. Exposing for the shell blows out the background. Exposing to keep some colour in the background leaves a woefully underexposed turtle shell. Adding in a flash lets the background stay alive and brings out the turtle shell.




The general goal is not "lighting A is better than Lighting B", but to showcase various tools you've used and to see their various effects. Please feel free to discuss any of the above comparisons, and I hope we'll see more examples!

01-31-2016, 12:36 PM - 1 Like   #2
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This is probably one of the most useful topics of photography in general. Once you get to a certain point of knowing what aperture and ISO is... knowing and understanding these lighting concepts makes all the difference. Many people never get that far. I am still learning myself. But I know what I need to learn...
01-31-2016, 02:10 PM - 1 Like   #3
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One of the most useful exercises is setting up a simple object such as an egg and a single light source. Taking a series of images, moving just the light, front, side, back, high, low, direct, diffused etc reveals shapes, shadows and textures that are not generally noticed. Well worth the effort.
01-31-2016, 02:24 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
This is probably one of the most useful topics of photography in general. Once you get to a certain point of knowing what aperture and ISO is... knowing and understanding these lighting concepts makes all the difference. Many people never get that far. I am still learning myself. But I know what I need to learn...
I agree about the importance, hence my attempt to incite discussion. Best way to learn is practice, so go practice and post some results:P.

I'm at the point where I more or less know what I'm trying to do, and can generally make it happen but I'm always game to learn new things to try or to review what I've been up to.

QuoteOriginally posted by Bruce Clark Quote
One of the most useful exercises is setting up a simple object such as an egg and a single light source. Taking a series of images, moving just the light, front, side, back, high, low, direct, diffused etc reveals shapes, shadows and textures that are not generally noticed. Well worth the effort.
Pictures or it didn't happen:P.

(but yes, it's a great exercise)

01-31-2016, 04:50 PM   #5
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Here is a scenario of something I constantly run into. Something like a really bright (the sky) vs something not as bright (the tree line) vs the little bird house out in my back yard...balancing the light so that one isn't blown out or one isn't completely dark proves challenging. Yes you can do SOME corrections in LR but getting something near a useable image to start with matters.

Here is the data from the image...it was taken with the 16-85mm @ 43mm... the f stop was at 4.5, the shutter speed was at 1/500, the ISO was 100.

There is some correlation between the trifecta of shutter speed, ISO, and f stop that I can't explain. If you or anyone else can please do so. Faster shutter speeds cause less exposure and darker picture. Stopping down to smaller f stops also darkens the photo. But neither can explain how to achieve the BALANCE among the components of the image.

I have had other images at times where even though I was shooting in the daytime I would kick up the ISO to 400 or 800 (or whatever) and play with the shutter speeds and f stop until I got closer to the right balance...

The image is nothing to write home about (it's only a snap shot) but it is a way to practice perfecting a balanced exposure.

01-31-2016, 05:50 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Bounce off wall:





vs bounce off ceiling. Astounding how the catchlights are the same in both shots!



Last edited by clackers; 01-31-2016 at 06:04 PM.
01-31-2016, 05:55 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
There is some correlation between the trifecta of shutter speed, ISO, and f stop that I can't explain. If you or anyone else can please do so. Faster shutter speeds cause less exposure and darker picture. Stopping down to smaller f stops also darkens the photo. But neither can explain how to achieve the BALANCE among the components of the image.
You have zero control of the relative brightness of subject to background in this scenario with the trifecta. Look at my turtle shell series from the first post, subject and background are being lit differently by the ambient light. By changing the aperture, iso, and shutter speed, I change the exposure of each, but not their brightness relative to one another - I could either over expose the background (1st pic) or underexpose the subject (2nd pic) to some degree. It's really a judgement call on where to put the exposure in this case, but you'll never be able to change the relative brightness with just the three standard levers, just the degree to which one part is overexposed and the other part is underexposed.

Your other option is to come back under different ambient light conditions or work in a split ND filter if appropriate or use a polarizer to darken the sky (landscape people do these constantly!) or work in some artificial lighting or modifier to suit your goals. With the turtle shell, I exposed for the background and set the flash + diffuser to get the subject exposed how I wanted (3rd picture).

The frog in the birdhouse picture is another example of controlling background to subject ratio. With the bare sun, I have no control over the relative brightness of the sky to the frog. The highlights on the frog are borderline overexposed but the sky was still a little dark for my taste. A diffuser between the sun and frog made the subject about a stop darker but obviously didn't affect the sky. This let me bump up my iso for a brighter sky but still have the subject where I wanted (and also greatly altered the shadows + contrast of the frog +birdhouse).

Does that help at all?

QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
The image is nothing to write home about (it's only a snap shot) but it is a way to practice perfecting a balanced exposure.
No worries or judgement about the quality... practice is practice

---------- Post added 01-31-16 at 07:58 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Bounce off wall:
vs bounce off ceiling:
Nice directional example and stunning model.
01-31-2016, 06:11 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
Here is a scenario of something I constantly run into. Something like a really bright (the sky) vs something not as bright (the tree line) vs the little bird house out in my back yard...balancing the light so that one isn't blown out or one isn't completely dark proves challenging. Yes you can do SOME corrections in LR but getting something near a useable image to start with matters.

You did get the balance nicely right, Alamo.


Don't reckon this is a lighting setup problem - it's a dynamic range issue, the day-to-day stuff of landscape photographers. You could have exposed for the trees if you used an ND grad if it wasn't for the annoyingly irregular background.


Going full frame makes things a bit better, but ultimately, on a tripod you'd expose once for the sky, and either once or twice for the ground stuff, and combine.


Last edited by clackers; 01-31-2016 at 06:21 PM.
01-31-2016, 06:17 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
...on a tripod you'd expose once for the sky, and either once or twice for the ground stuff, and combine.
A good use of non-cartoonish HDR. Digital makes this kind of split exposures so much easier, you can essentially have an ND-grad filter of any shape you like.
01-31-2016, 06:23 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
A good use of non-cartoonish HDR. Digital makes this kind of split exposures so much easier, you can essentially have an ND-grad filter of any shape you like.

Yeah, I've steered clear of Photoshop layer masks in my learning of photography so far, Brian, but I've decided if I'm carrying a tripod, the shackles are off, now.


Pragmatism over ideals.

Last edited by clackers; 01-31-2016 at 08:29 PM.
01-31-2016, 07:19 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
You have zero control of the relative brightness of subject to background in this scenario with the trifecta.
Well one thing that I DID do to have 'control' was to observe the layout over time. I went to shoot when the conditions were right... so in a way I had control over me I had to pay attention to what is North, what is South, how the light was travelling across the sky... where the sun was at... I guess I call it being 'spacially aware'...

When the sun was in a different position it would not throw light onto the trees in the background and it allowed for a better shot...

While I wasn't controlling the light I certainly was chasing it

Also it does bring up opportunities to use flash in a daylight setting, but overall it to me is making me more observant of the environment specifically as it relates to photography.

QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
You did get the balance nicely right, Alamo.
Thank you. Sometimes I go outside and shoot just basic stuff in challenging situations just for the sole purpose to try and 'get it right' when a good shot comes along later on. When the good ones come along the time to prepare for it has long since gone

---------- Post added 01-31-16 at 08:28 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Going full frame makes things a bit better, but ultimately, on a tripod you'd expose once for the sky, and either once or twice for the ground stuff, and combine.
I have never done multiple images or 'combining' of images. I don't know how to cook up a photo like that.

With some of these 'mundane' shots that I go practice on I am trying to improve my fundamentals of the basic capture.

I am also trying to learn to recognize good lighting conditions so I can be at where the action is at when it all goes down

Last edited by alamo5000; 01-31-2016 at 07:29 PM.
01-31-2016, 09:02 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Yeah, I've steered clear of Photoshop layer masks in my learning of photography so far, Brian, but I've decided if I'm carrying a tripod, the shackles are off, now.
I'm low on the masking learning curve, I've picked up a low end wacom tablet and it seems like the bomb for this sort of thing. The more techniques the merrier.

QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
Well one thing that I DID do to have 'control' was to observe the layout over time..
I love everything about your post...know what you're after, plan for it, recognize it, practice it, be ready to make the most of what you're learned...

I should have mentioned that I also think you did a great job with the balance... there's a patience landscape and scenery folk have for keeping track of locations and waiting for the chance of good conditions before heading out that I just don't have. I'll take wee subjects where it's easy to bend the light to my liking over ambient on a broad scene I can't control any day.
01-31-2016, 09:19 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
I love everything about your post...know what you're after, plan for it, recognize it, practice it, be ready to make the most of what you're learned...

I should have mentioned that I also think you did a great job with the balance... there's a patience landscape and scenery folk have for keeping track of locations and waiting for the chance of good conditions before heading out that I just don't have. I'll take wee subjects where it's easy to bend the light to my liking over ambient on a broad scene I can't control any day.
Thank you!

To me it's not just about 'landscapes'... it's about a 'scene'... it can and is applied to everything. Street photography or whatever....pick your corner and observe when what happens, how the light falls, or a number of variables and just 'be there'. It will help turn an average photo into a better one... it also helps when scouting out locations....

Find something interesting and then figure out when is going to be the best time to be there....

It also helps lets say if you want to take a picture of a pretty girl...assuming you have a model when and where do you take her to? Its about getting it all together....

---------- Post added 01-31-16 at 10:26 PM ----------

One of my friends was an old school photographer who is a pretty interesting guy. Way back when in the day back when Nat Geo was in every house... It was back in the film era... well my friend loaded a camera up with one roll of 36 exposures of film and went on an around the world trip... He was gone for who knows how long to some way out of the way places... Afghanistan or where ever....

He never even took all 36 shots. Came home and had I think 3 photos from that roll published.

I am often pushed to 'do it right and get it right'
02-01-2016, 11:29 AM   #14
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I agree that the time of day and fore - planning for the shoot is the best way to go. Masking objects with a levels adjustment or something like that post with a bright background behind is not easy, and can test my patience well beyond the limits! I'd probably end up using HSS flash to light the foreground object and pull down the whole background with shorter shutter times.
02-02-2016, 12:15 PM - 2 Likes   #15
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Here's a 4-different-looks in 10 minutes portrait for the President of IRIS USA I did this morning. Key light remained the same for each shot. Camera right, about 45 degrees and above subject for natural looking downward light.

9454 is a more hip/modern, shows innovation -- Side light to add some edge



9458 is more conservative, serious. Added benefit of making him look thinner -- Very light fill card in place of edge light



9463 is safe, useful in a lot of general situations, kinda passport-like, but personal -- Second light added camera left with around 2:1 ratio



9465 is also nice and safe, more fun, good for social media -- Same as previous, with background lights turned on for white bg


Last edited by enoeske; 02-04-2016 at 08:57 AM.
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