For this assignment I chose to work with a table-top studio set up. The reasons for this are: I am new to this type of photography so I wanted practice in the techniques and with the use of off-camera flash; and, in exercise 4.4, I enjoyed the image of the partially lighted apple and wanted to work this into a series of photographs.
My objective was to show an apple as if it were lighted like the moon during its waxing and waning. Except, unlike the unsaturated moon, I wanted to show the vivid red colours of the apple as well as the shadow cast by a flash moving around the apple. For colour, I was inspired by the contrast and vivid colours in the work of Chris Steele-Perkins on Mount Fuji, despite the low light conditions (see blog post).
I completed some research into the phases of the moon as part of my preparation for this assignment (see blog post). The importance of preparation and research was brought home to me in my recent reading of On being a photographer (Hurn D & Jay B (2008). Lenswork Publishing) – through being interested in the subject and knowing something about it, one is better able to show something worthy of the subject in a photograph.
The equipment I used for the shoot was a Fuji X-T1, wirelessly connected to an iPad through the Fuji-remote app. This allowed me to remotely fire the camera, which was tricky to access in a small darkened room. I used two Yongnuo wireless flash triggers as a connection between the camera and a Nissan i40 flash unit, which I used manually. I used a Fujinon f/2.4 60mm lens set to manual focus. The camera was set at ISO200 f/3.2 for 1/180 sec for all shots, with any variation in light provided by moving the flash and using its power settings to adjust the light level. The camera was mounted on a tripod.
I set up the darkened room by using card to cover the window, allowing me to make use of the window recess for my set-up.
I used black fabric draped over card curved into the window recess as a backdrop. I also used black card to shield the backdrop from the flash as far as possible – the position is shown in the photo above.
I used the preview screen in the iPad to check images and then make adjustments to the flash output and view the effect of experimenting with different flash positions. In the end, I found that hand-holding the flash to move it in the orbit above the apple, gave the strongest contrast between light and shadow.
In total, I shot just over 100 photos and these are shown without post-processing on my contact sheets. My final selection of photos were processed in Lightroom, with the black-point adjusted to darken the backdrop further. I also used the radial filter to further reduce the exposure of backdrop around the apple, turning it into a dark space. The highlights slider brightened the apple (it is the highlight in this context) to further increase contrast. Because of the large area of black in the images, the histogram makes for unusual viewing:
Below is my final selection of photos. I selected a series that showed the light moving across the apple, similar to the progression of light across the moon as I intended. I also applied a square crop to the images to avoid too much black space. Click images to enlarge:
I feel I’ve stretched myself on this assignment, creating a moonlike body in a black void from an apple. A search of Google images shows nothing for apple-moon (apart from the computer company logo) but does show individual images of apples against dark backdrops.
There have been technical as well as creative challenges, including setting up a darkened room and the equipment to operate effectively in the dark. I am now much more comfortable with flash photography, wireless triggers, and remote control of my camera through software applications.
Despite my reservations about this type of photography (it does not involve walking outdoors and spontaneity), I enjoyed it very much!