Natural, artificial (environmental), and studio (of a sort in my case) light each have very different characteristics and choosing one type for an assignment involved a lot of thought. Initially I was attracted to the night time light of towns and did some investigative photographs of a local supermarket:
This would have been outside my normal choice of subject so I was interested to see if I could persuade myself – but no, I was comprehensively underwhelmed. I thought of night time garages in the George Tice vein:
George Tice: Petit’s Mobil Station,” Cherry Hill, NJ,
The monstrous water tower is a significant component of this image and we don’t have them so much in Devon. It’s B&W as well and I am making myself work in colour for the time being. I thought of launderettes too, an idea I have had for a while but as with the other night exteriors we’re at the wrong time of year. I visualised bright launderettes with steamy windows on a rainy street in the pitch black so that may have to wait until November.
I wanted a settled, calm look to the light so in the end I chose to do some interiors in a local church, partly because I knew that the quality of the light was very delicate and quiet. It’s a pleasant place to work because there’s so little chance of interruption and you can always have a sit-down to contemplate matters photographic. This is Askerswell church in West Dorset. The windows are very tall and face north and south (obviously) giving a slight variation in the light. They aren’t deeply stained, in fact there isn’t much colour from them at all – they have a wide uncoloured margin which lets in a good deal of diffuse daylight.
Again, I would not normally choose church interiors as a subject but these images are much more about the light than the content. There is a soft gradation apparent in all the shots, a long tonal scale which allows for detail to be present in the shadows without the highlights being over exposed. The velvet of the curtains fairly glows and the folds themselves show a pleasant rhythmic progression across the frame. I was tempted to crop to a square format but I wanted to show some of the objects with a background ‘context’ rather than square in the centre.
The ambient light level was low because the day was partially cloudy; windows to the south side were brighter than those opposite but not by much. I wanted to retain a reasonable depth of field so that the background tones didn’t dissolve in to a general blur, so apertures were quite small, leading to long exposure times. I used the trusty tripod for all the exposures. The images appear as JPG’s here but they started as RAW files so I was able to slightly modify the black/white points. I set the white balance once and didn’t change it – the colour temperature was quite consistent throughout.
I would prefer to see these in a ‘gallery’ presentation but I think WordPress only allows a restricted choice of views. Also I thought I’d lost a lot of work just recently because I’d been playing around in the mechanism so I shall leave well alone for the time being.
My favorite of the selection is number five; I did open up the shadows a little in the middle but, apart from that, these are pretty much straight out of the camera. I am going to resist the temptation to render them in B&W and just get familiar with them as colour images!