Lighting modifier trials

I carried out some lighting modifier trials in the studio yesterday to identify the different effects that they have on the same subject. It should be noted that the purpose of the trial was to see the effect on the background and the shadows and so sometimes I had to adjust the power setting on the strobe because modifiers can restrict light output considerably. All were taken against a neutral-grey (50%) background with just one strobe (+modifier) with a white reflector opposite to help fill-in the shadows.

The initial ‘control’ shot was taken with a 70x60cm diffuser softbox. This gave a nice overall light with subtle shadow.

A 40cm beauty dish gave more shadow and its relatively smaller size created more fall-off (seen by the gradient on the background).

Adding a 60 degree honeycomb grid to the beauty dish made little difference to the lighting on the subject but hardly lit the background at all. The power had to be turned up to compensate for the light lost due to the grid.

An 18cm bowl flooded the subject with light and the power had to be turned down considerably. This gave quite a harsh light with strong shadows and strong highlights.

Adding either a large (60 degree) or small (40 degree) honeycomb grid to the bowl made little difference to the subject lighting. Again the power had to be increased and the background received less light.

Adding barn doors to the bowl made virtually no difference – probably due to the close proximity of the light to the subject.

A conical snoot gave, unsurprisingly, a much more focussed light with bright highlights and deep shadows and very little background light.

In conclusion: the beauty dish created an interesting effect although I may need to bring the reflector closer to the subject to slightly reduce the harshness of the shadows. The conical snoot created a dramatic effect and so I’ll be working with both of these modifiers more in the future. The bowl modifier created quite a harsh light whichever modifier was used and for close-up work is probably not going to be used much on its own. However if I make a scrim diffuser it may create some interesting gradient light. But that’s a trial for another day.

A few more

Here are three more images from my recent visit to the Victorian Town museum. There are plenty more to look at yet but I’m taking my time and going through them slowly. I took over 200 shots in 3 hours and so I am now seriously thinking of buying the annual ‘museum passport’ which would allow me unlimited access. It’s £29 for the year for all the museums – but when you think that it’s £20 for a day ticket just for the Victorian Town it seems like a bargain. I just need to judge the best time to buy it to get the most out of it.

Studio redesign complete

The planned redesign (or re-layout) has been completed and I’m very pleased with the result. It really was worth the effort of creating the cut-outs and pre-planning it on the basis that it actually only took me about an hour because I already knew where everything was going.

Below is a short video showing the final layout. I’m not overly comfortable talking on video but I’m hoping to supplement some of my studio shots with a video explaining how the effect was achieved – so I’d better get used to it!

Studio after the redesign

Studio redesign

As we move towards Winter it is time for me to do some studio photography – and I have a project in mind and have already started planning towards it. This has identified that the layout of the studio isn’t ideal and the width is restricted on the side of the table used to place the subject matter – which makes it tricky to get a cross-light across the table when a softbox is attached to a strobe. Therefore I have done some careful measurement of the studio floorspace and furniture, created cut-outs and come up with an optimised layout to free up space in the area that matters.

This may seem a rather crude method but it works surprisingly well and gives a pretty good impression of how things are going to look. Now all I need to do is physically move the furniture – and with a damp & wet weekend looming it may be the ideal time.

Day at the museum

Every once-in-a-while the nearby attraction “Blists Hill Victorian Town” opens its doors for free for local residents to visit and see what it offers. I last went a number of years ago and it was only relatively recently I recounted to a colleague that these ‘open days’ used to occur. It was coincidental therefore that last Monday I became aware that it was happening again and so on Saturday I made the one mile trip to the venue for a photographic morning.

The main reason for my visit was to take some background and texture shots to use in my forthcoming still-life project. Images of some of the attractions such as shops and toolrooms to act as a backdrop and textures such as timber cladding, brickwork and iron plates. It was good to go with a purpose but with the added benefit of taking some atmospheric Autumnal shots should they manifest themselves. I was aware that all of the entrance allowance had been taken up and so it was likely to be crowded; I therefore made sure I was early (doors opened at 10am) and that I was travelling relatively light so that I could squeeze in to tight spaces when required.

All-in-all a great morning out. I was there for over 3 hours and managed to take a good quantity of images that I can use. Here is one of my favourites:

2021 hillclimb finale

Today was my last hillclimb event of 2021. It took place at Prescott and involved an assembly of rally cars from through the years (and a few others). To be honest I was a little disappointed with the entry – no Audi Quatros, Metro 6R4’s, RS200’s, Cosworth Sapphire’s – all rally cars that I went to see back in the days of the RAC Rally stages in the Welsh forests.

So that’s it for my motorsport for 2021. Now time for another project which will take place in the warmth & dry of my studio through the Winter months.

A 6L Holden Commodore enters a ray of sunshine

British Hillclimb Championship finale

Sunday saw the final of the 2021 British Hillclimb Championship at Loton Park. The top 6 places had already been decided because any points gained on the day wouldn’t change their position – but there were still the lower places to be decided and, of course, some were chasing the hill record. And chase they did – unbelievably the hill record was broken 17 times with Wallace Menzies taking top spot on the last drive of the day.

So that’s the end of competitive hillclimbing photography for me this year – just one more event at Prescott next Sunday with some rally cars and I’ll be hanging up my kit bag up for the Winter. However, I have a photography project planned to keep me occupied – watch this space!