Friday, February 26, 2010

Controlling the Light

While shooting a redux still life a couple of days ago, I found out something that has rocked my photography world. It may sound obvious to you more seasoned photographers out there, but it has completely changed the way I think of this kind of photography:

When you're the guy setting up objects for the shot, you get to be the guy controlling the light, too. All of it.

When I put it to words, it sounds like something that should be followed up with a quick "uh... yeah. Duh." But seriously. I was re-trying the chess piece shot from this post in an attempt to make it better, and it kind of hit me that I wanted to control where the shadows from the chess pieces went. I went and grabbed a portable light that I use in the woodshop and tried a whole bunch of different configurations. It was really fun. Eventually, I decided that this one was the keeper:

click to enlarge, or see it on Flickr
Aperture: f/7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/5
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 33 mm

An interesting story about this photo: I tried editing it in the style of my series, Motionless. I absolutely hated what it did to my photo. Something in me strongly objected the to vignette and the tint, to the point that I just couldn't leave it that way. I deleted that version and started over until I got it how I liked it.

So a good day for photography. I learned that controlling the light = win, and that in post-processing, the photo really is the boss.


  1. Very cool shot! I had a "duh" moment/epiphany regarding light today too!

  2. I have to relearn that lesson all the time. Thank you for reminding me.

    It's neat to look through the lens, and move the light around to see what effect it has.

    Great photo. I like how the three pieces in the back are in a very strait line, and spaced equally apart, and how the piece in the front is shifted a little to emphasis that piece. Well done.


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