I thought we had finished the camera challenges a couple of weeks ago, but it turned out there were a few more things I needed to answer about lighting and setups, so here goes!

I was asked where my shadows were in the photos I showed in my review of Using Artificial Light Idoors.  Let’s look at the bigger picture:

So there actually are shadows in this photo, but due to the way I set up and framed the elements in it, they’re not obvious (which was the point of the exercise!).  If you look to the left of the trunk at the bottom corner, you can see where the foreground light gives way to shadow.  It’s a relatively subtle change, but it’s there.

Further up above the skirting board it becomes much less obvious for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, the items on top of the trunk are, for the most part, lighter, secondly, they are smaller and further away from the wall, so their shadows aren’t projected as far, and finally, because of the white walls behind and (unseen) to the left, light is reflected back onto the items, which reduces shadows quite drastically.

Now there’s another factor that comes into play here, which takes us back to the White Balancing Your 50 Shades Of Grey extra from March.  Remember how the camera wants everything to be a nice mid grey?  Well in order to get a white background, you need to use exposure compensation to brighten things up.  In manual mode, this means moving the indicator to the right of centre before taking the shot, either by increasing your aperture (make the opening bigger, ie the number gets smaller), or decreasing your shutter speed (open the shutter for longer, ie the number gets smaller).  Remember you can also increase your ISO if needed as well.  Don’t forget that if you’re using a lot of white you should also be checking your white balance as well.

Let’s look at a smaller setup now, where Jack kindly agreed to model (there was a non-negotiable alcohol fee involved).

This is what’s known as a high key image, with the nice white background and no easily discernible shadows.  You also can’t see where the join in the background is, where the white foam core board he’s sitting on meets the one propped against the wall behind him.

This is the setup I used.  The table lights are designed for photography and have 175w output daylight bulbs.  They are set close both to each other and to Jack to try and reduce the amount of shadow falling on the background.  They are also set up in front of him so that the white foam core board behind him can reflect light from behind.

As you can see, Jack is also sitting a few inches in front of the background, again to reduce the visible shadows:

Back in that White Balancing Your 50 Shades Of Grey post I also mentioned that I shoot in RAW format and that we’d revisit that eventually.  We will do in a final follow up in a couple of weeks, I’m trying not to baffle you too much in one post!

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