Dean O'Brien's Blog

Working with light and a walkabout with JW

with 2 comments

I love hands on things.  Don’t get me wrong.  Classrooms and studios serve their purpose, but to get out and about on the streets and be taught is a golden opportunity.  Its a bit like when I was a kid in primary school and it was the hot summer of ’76.  Our teacher announced that they were going to teach us our lessons out on the school field.  Today, lecturer Jonathan Worth took us out on a cold day for a walk around the local area (cue sound of record needle scratching off vinyl record).  It was all in the aid of teaching though.  The idea being that we understand the various sources of light which are around us.   Looking at different types of light and how they affect what we look at.  Armed with light meters and cameras we talked and discussed the different types of lighting which we were encountering.  This might not sound like ‘edge of the seat’ stuff but it was interesting and I did learn something.  We saw how just slightly moving to one side alters the shadow on a subjects face.  How ‘hatchet lighting’ can be used to great effect when you understand how to work it to your advantage.

I suppose what I got out of today were ‘real skills’ which will be put to use every time I take a shot.  I already had a reasonable understanding of where light comes from and travels but today gave me a deeper insight.  Using the sun or whatever was available as my key light’ and looking at where the dark areas would fall helped me to produce a couple of half decent portraits on the way back to class.  Far too often we have magazines push down our throat that we need a certain number of lights and softboxes.  Today was a real ‘back to basics’ lesson that taught us to keep things simple.  Not to over complicate things.

Below are some of the images which I shot all using natural available light and no flash.

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Written by Dean O'Brien

February 8, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Picturing the Body

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2 Responses

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  1. First time I heard the term ‘Hatchet’ lighting. Not sure what it means. I think it means creating areas or pools of shadow?
    Were you using the light meters to pre-visualise and work out
    the lighting contrast in (f stops) on different parts of body/face and if light in background will make subject merge or stand out?

    Chris Alford

    February 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm

  2. Yes Chris thats exactly what we were using the light meters for. I always carry one with me now even when shooting digital.

    Dean O'Brien

    February 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm


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