Category Archives: Part 4 Assignment – Applying lighting techniques

Assignment 4 – Tutor’s report

Here is my tutor’s report on assignment 4 with my responses where appropriate:-

Overall Comments.

For this assignment you have chosen to illustrate lighting techniques using one of your camera lenses as your subject matter. It is a good object to demonstrate the various ways in using different lighting to produce the four themes required as the lens has a distinct shape and is suitable to demonstrate its texture and form in particular.

You will see from my comments that some improvement could emphasise the effect more clearly with some of the images.

It will be interesting and satisfying to experiment with other kinds of lighting to compare these results when you have time. Try the stages using tungsten, torchlight or even candlelight. Some of the results will be less attractive, but it is enlightening to compare the various light sources.

Assessment potential

‘I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment’.

 Feedback on assignment

 Shape: Using strong back lighting to create a silhouette does show off the shape of an object to good advantage. The first image of Shape shows the top of the lens with a convincing shadow produced using natural light to reveal the shape of the object in two dimensions. The second image does this using background studio lighting to create the effect but is a little dark and if you so wish this can be improved by selecting and adding some exposure in Photoshop to create the image shown below without taking away the background lighting as originally deployed. The shape however, in the original image does depict the theme. Further selection of the background can produce an image as seen in figure 3. Your image conforms to the brief where the outline edges stand out and minimum detail visible in the object.


Tutor report 1Tutor report 2Tutor report 3 


  1.                                                 2.                                            3.

My response.  I was aiming to get a silhouette type of shot and I think if I had made it a total silhouette that may have been more effective.  As it is I agree that there’s merit in bringing in a bit more detail.


The first image of ‘Form’ illustrates the concept well and as you quite correctly point out, it lifts the object from the background giving it depth and its three dimensional effect. It also shows more clearly what the object is. You have used good lighting technique with the umbrella to avoid unwanted shadows. The second image gives even more visual information of the object shown by natural window lighting.

My response.  I think these are my strongest images in the set and possibly the most dynamic.


The first image focuses on the metallic texture of the barrel of the lens. I think perhaps slightly more exposure would improve the image without losing the detail. The image does depict wear and tear and the texture grain of the metal and paintwork.

My response.  I wanted to show the wear and tear on the lens, including the crack in the lens hood, in a small area but agree longer exposure (particularly define the crack) would have made a better shot for this section.

Your second image taken with natural light shows the length of the body of the lens in more detail and the focussing rings shows off the texture to very good effect.


The two shots of this part of the theme taken using studio flash complement the colours found on the lens and in particular emphasise the fact that the lens does show colour in more detail as a close up, as the body of the lens is dominantly of a greyish tinge. In addition, the two images also depict the texture of the object.

You have dealt with this assignment practically using different lighting techniques to show the required techniques. One can see that soft lighting does produce more detail compared to direct sunlight or harsh flash lighting.

My response.  I wondered if the subject I chose was too dull but in the selection process I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what difference, if anything, the choice of lighting can make to a relatively uninteresting subject.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Thank you for including your exercises in the follow up from assignment 3. With Measuring exposure, higher and lower intensitivity etc. You are fully up-to-date with these exercises, which are amply illustrated. It is good to read that you have enjoyed this assignment and learnt from it giving you some added knowledge to take forward.

Keeping sketchbooks and a learning log/blog is an integral part of this and every other OCA course, not only because they constitute 20% of your marks if you choose to have your work formally assessed but they are also an excellent way to see how you are developing.

Your Blog is also up-to-date with good references from research and reflection.

Suggested reading/viewing

Have a look at these sites from fellow OCA students for inspiration.

Looked  at this and thought that it is a well presented brochure.  A lot of text is used – but used well, and I noticed that the number of images exceeded the brief of the assignment so there appears to be room for a bit of flexibility.

I liked Andy’s detailed description of the photos used (again exceeding the number recommended) and the finished result in its PDF form.  I thought the cover shot, as in the previous example, to be a crucial choice and that will be something I need to consider carefully.  My only comment is relating to the two monochrome images which seem to jar against the excellent colour shots particularly, in the case of the restaurant shot, in the use of what appears to be HDR.

Pointers for the next assignment

Applying the techniques of illustration and narrative. Page 180 explains the requirements for this assignment. You may wish to look at these student examples for comparison.

Unfortunately this post is no longer available.

I really liked the magazine format of this with its contents summary page and strong graphical elements.

This is more of a blog entry and there was no indication of the finished product so to speak.  As the wildlife shots were very good, and cover shots are indicated, it would have been interesting to see how they would have been presented.

As a measure of how effective Nicola’s magazine on the art festival at Pittenweem was, after reading I immediately wanted to find out more about the village.  I liked the use of varying sizes of shots and the choice of cover shot with its space for text (something else to consider) was excellent.  Again there were more images than the brief suggests so I am mindful that this can be exceeded if necessary.



Assignment 4 Applying lighting techniques

This assignment requires you to bring out physical properties of one object under the following categories; Shape, Form, Texture and Colour.

Due to personal circumstances I had to choose something in the house (my original choice was a monument in the cemetery I have previously visited)  After some consideration the object I chose was my zoom lens as I thought it had an interesting shape and was, I felt, relevant to the course anyway.  I photographed it both in natural light:-


and with studio lights with a lot of variations:-

Lens shots




For the first shot illustrating the shape of the lens I thought I would use the strong mid morning shadows to give a feel of the shape without giving away too much of any detail or texture.


Natural light through window to right of image.

The second shot I chose for illustrating shape was this one:-


Diffused studio light (through soft box) directly behind lens.

The portrait  setting accentuates the length of the object (in this stance) and the light, behind a diffuser, behind the lens emphasises the shape but hides the details.


Form is described as illustrating the volume of an object an a three dimensional way.  I take it to show the space it occupies.  In the previous two shots because of their two dimensionality you do not get any idea of space.  This shot on the other hand gives a much better idea the space the lens takes up and we can see some detail now but the main emphasis is on the bulk, as it were, of the lens.


Diffused studio light (through umbrella) to left of image, reflector sheet to right to bounce light into lens hood to bring detail out.

The next shot, while superficially similar to the vertical shot in Shape above, gives much information by virtue of changing the angle slightly and its possible to see the depth in the petals of the lens hood and the “roundness” of the lens.  Again because of the lighting some more detail is now visible.



Natural light to the left through window.



In both this and colour below I took this to be about highlighting the relevant bits of the object in question.   In this case the lens has seen a lot of use and has the marks/damage to show it:-


Studio light at right angles to object on the right hand side (shot through umbrella)

But it also has an interesting contrast in the smooth-ish silver of the body of the lens (which in itself is unusual and actually not that smooth when viewed closely) and the black ribbing of the zoom and focusing rings and I think this image with its highlight along the body of the lens highlights these aspects of it:-


Natural light, lens is facing the low sun (taken early in the morning.


Colour was a bit tricky in the sense that there is not a lot of it in the object and in some ways, while the following two shots indicate what colour there is, to a degree they could also be texture shots, by their close up nature.


Studio Flash (low power) through umbrella to right of subject.

The next shot highlights the gold contacts of the lens, and I like the converging curves in the shot.



Studio spot to left of subject

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

I think there is a good range of composition and lighting here, with enough variety to maintain interest and give the viewer a reasonable amount of knowledge about the subject.  There were ideas I had (for instance shining a strong light through the lens) which didn’t come off but feel I have made good use of artifial lighting (which again is not something I use that often)

Quality of Outcome

I think  I’ve taken shots that cover the brief of the assignment but think that, because of the subject the colour section is probably the weakest, however I am happy with the overall results.

Demonstration of Creativity

I think this has been good with the use of both natural and artificial light (the latter being of various types) and the range of shots has been instrumental in giving a broad view of the subject.


I have re read Light Science and Magic and have been more aware of angles,reflections etc as a result.   I think I need to practice a lot more with the set ups in the book so it becomes more second nature.  I found myself spotting things after I’d taken the shot which would have been better spotted prior to taking it.

I would add that the exercises and assignment were more enjoyable to me than the previous one and they have made me more considered in the my approach to lighting I think.