The Science – What is light
According to physics light is part of something called the electromagnetic spectrum, which ranges from radio waves which are of a low frequency to gamma rays which are of a higher frequency as you can see from the image below the distance between the peaks of the wave are known as its amplitude so the closer together the wave peaks are the higher the frequency and the further apart the wave peaks the lower the frequency.
Electromagnetic radiation is created by variations in the electric and magnetic fields, that move energy from one location to another. Visible light is not inherently different from the other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum with the exception that the human eye can detect visible waves and sees them as colour Electromagnetic radiation can also be described in terms of a stream of photons which are massless particles each travelling with wavelike properties that travel in straight lines at speeds of 186,000 miles per second or 300,000 kilometres per second or the speed of light.
The Visible part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum is as you can plainly see from the example image below made up of seven colours Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red each of these colours has a wavelength the visible spectrum lies between Ultraviolet, Ultraviolet part of the spectrum ends at 380 nanometers and infrared part of the spectrum starts at 750 nanometres both of which the eye cannot detect.
Even though there are seven colours each additional nanometre of wave length creates another tone of that colour, as a matter of fact, the eye can see or differentiate 65,000 colours only.
What happens when light interacts with matter
when the light hits something like (air, glass, a green wall, or a black dress), it may be:
Light is transmitted through objects if it is transparent that anything like a glass window glass beaker champagne glass clear bottle the light itself would go through the object if the object was transparent.
Lights can also be reflected are scattered off things such as mirrors, chrome metal, water surfing is like rain drops can reflect our scatter light this can sometimes be seen in the form of a rainbow if the light is scattered by raindrops.
If light hits an object that is black in colour for example such as a blackboard, a black screen, black clothing the light is absorbed, this is because the light itself is a form of energy, so if you are wearing black clothing and light hits the black clothing you tend to feel heat hence this is where the absorption of light comes in.
That is why when taking photographs a photographer will use things like scrims which are frames covered in tracing paper so that lights can pass through and be diffused or reflected onto an object this allows you to shape light onto the object.
Black boards called flags are used in photography as they will absorb light and not reflect it onto an object again this is used as a tool to shape light.
As you will see from the diagram below it shows the four different effects light has on four different objects discussed in these paragraphs.
As you can see from the image above before white light hits an object it consists of seven visible colours Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet depending on what colour the object depends on which colour is absorbed so as you can see from above as white light hits a red T-Shirt only the red colour in the white light is absorbed and the that is the colour the eye sees, same goes for the blue shorts so only the blue light is absorbed.
Early History of Artificial Lighting
When photography was in its infancy there was only one source of light to the photographer, and of course, that was the sun. So the one thing early photography depended on where long days and good weather. It became apparent that another form of light would be needed so that photographers did not have to rely on sunlight anymore and could photograph in dull weather conditions or in a studio.
Man made light in photography dates back to the early 19th century (1839) it was used by a Mr L. Ibbetson who used oxy-hydrogen light (also known as limelight, discovered by Goldsworthy Gurney (Tolmachev, 2011)) whilst while taking photographs of micrscopic objects. Limelight was produced when a piece of calcium carbonate was heated in an oxygen flame until it became incandescent.
While been used extensively between 1839-1840, the images produced by limelight were of rather poor quality with pale white faces and an improperly lit image due to the inadequacy of the light source and contrast in the reflectiveness in different parts of the image.
Due to the failure of using limelight and other chemicals for lighting the photographic images, which was purely down to the light not containing the rich blue that the photographic plates of the day required, along with the chemical’s low intensity.
After the failure of the limelight flashes, it was time to look for a new solution and Félix Nadar which was the pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon an early French photographer and journalist captured his first photographic images in 1853 and pioneered the use of artificial light in photography by capturing images of the Paris sewers using a battery powered flash.
It was not until the late 1800’s that arc-lamps were introduced to aid photographers, but it was not until 1877 that the first studio using electric light was opened. Powered by a gas-driven dynamo the studio by Van der Weyde in Regent Street, had the light sufficient to allow exposures of 2 to 3 seconds.
Despite being quite a step forward in artificial lighting development, the early chemicals could not provide the satisfying result for the photos. Producing a shorter, and therefore more predictable flash became the goal. There was one solution: magnesium.
In 1862 Edward Sonstadt began experiments to prepare the metal on a commercial basis and by 1864 magnesium wire was finally placed on sale.
The wire was extremely expensive, but following an extremely successful demonstration in February the same year, where a photograph was produced in a darkened room in only 50 seconds, the highly actinic light proved ideal for photography and became incredibly popular.
Powered by a gas-driven dynamo the studio by Van der Weyde in Regent Street, had the light sufficient to allow exposures of 2 to 3 seconds.
Off-camera flash; Flash, off-camera
Flash units that are not built-in to the camera are referred to as off-camera flash. They are mounted in one of two ways. On the Hotshoe on top of the camera. Alternatively, it can be mounted on a light stand or convenient surface. The off-camera flash communicates with the camera in one of three ways…
The camera emits its own flash or infrared light to trigger the off-camera flash
There is a direct wire connection between camera and off-camera flash
A connection is completed by a radio signal trigger. Some off-camera flash units are capable of Through-The-Lens (TTL) control where the camera senses the scene and adjusts the flash accordingly. Other units will need to be manually adjusted when off the camera. The degree to which the flash is programmable by the camera or the photographer is determined by the model and often price of the flash unit.
This is one of my own off-camera setups which is available from Amazon Yongnuo YN560 III Speedlite Flashes with YN560 TX transmitter
So what brand of flashes are available, if like me you have a budget then I would suggest either Yongnuo, Neewer, Godox, Andoer, Meike, Nissin and Metz these flash are reasonably priced so for example if you bought a Nikon or Canon own brand flashes they could cost £350 or more Yongnuo and Neewer and the others can be purchased for under £300 and still do a brilliant job.
You could also use standard wireless transmitter and receivers remembering to get the one for you specific camera such as the Neewer kit again from Amazon Neewer Wireless Kit which would cost about £20.26 this, of course, does not include the batteries which you have to buy separate
or indeed the Yongnuo, Neewer and Godox range of Transmitter and receivers such as for Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras when buying any kind of accessories for a camera especially flash related you need to make sure that the triggers are compatible with the brand of camera you are using for example:
Canon uses E-TTL
E–TTL autoflash. ‘E‘ is for ‘evaluative’. The flash system shares the light sensors in the viewfinder, which are also used for evaluative metering of the ambient light. As the shutter button is pressed, an ambient light reading is taken. A low power pre-flash is then emitted by the Speedlite.
Nikon uses iTTL
Today, with current Nikon DSLR, it is always iTTL now. But in old gear, TTL may specifically specify film TTL. iTTL metering method may be TTL or TTL BL modes.TTL BL is balanced flash, which is the default flash metering mode of Nikon cameras.
Sony uses TTL
In photography, through-the-lens (TTL) metering refers to a feature of cameras whereby the intensity of light reflected from the scene is measured through the lens; as opposed to using a separate metering window or external hand-held light meter. In some cameras various TTL metering modes can be selected.
You may also find yourself needing to use filters over the flash heads to give a colour contrast to the subject you are shooting Selens are a good cheap option see image below and link:
Selens Flash Filters they come in warm, mid and cold colour groups and will allow you to
- Create Magic Scene — Coloured Lighting Filters, or Gels, are Often Used as Accent Lights, or to Add Dramatic Colour to Backgrounds or Selected Portions of a Scene for Artistic Effect.
- Change Color Balance of The Image — Flash Gels Help to Improve the Colour Balance of the Image.
The Idea is to create an image called the photographer in an outdoor location, I’ll be looking at create a silhouette image initially and then see how I can change the image with off camera flash and maybe gels to add a different component to the image or indeed create my own setting for a silhouette shoot using off camera flash only for reference I will look at photographers such as Jake Hicks, Jim Zuckerman, Nicolas Bouvier, TJ Scott, Jasper James, Rankin and Karl Taylor.
All the images above are by the British fashion and portrait photographer Rankin and all images are his copyright – http://rankin.co.uk/home/
Also look at Rankin’s Tumblr page where you can see even more images of his work http://rankin.co.uk/tumblr/
Rankin Permission to use images
Born in Paisley in 1966, John Rankin Waddell, also known under his working name Rankin, is a British portrait and fashion photographer.
Some of his artworks included:-
John Rank Waddell made his name in the publishing industry when along with Jefferson Hack they created the seminal magazine Dazed & Confused in 1992, by providing an opportunity for up and coming stylists, designers, photographers and writers.
Rankin himself has created a milestone, with his body of works including advertising campaigns for brands and charitable organisations such as Nike, Swatch, Dove, Pantene, Diageo, Women’s Aid, and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. He has also shot covers for the likes of Elle, German Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone and Wonderland.
What got me interested in Rankin’s work was a TV documentary he made called ‘No body’s Perfect‘ which was shown on BBC Four the documentary presented by Rankin along with the artist Alison Lapper and it explored how digital photography, social media and selfie culture has affected people’s sense of identity. In the documentary, they challenged four individuals who hate the camera due to various reasons they were Alanah 19, Carly 38, Damien 48 and David 22 the challenge put to them was to be photographed close-up to examine different ideas revolving around self-worth, image and beauty.
As you can see from the before and after images below there was a big transformation.
What fascinated me the most about this documentary was how Rankin was able to take these four people, who due to their specific issues hated been photographed and produce a final set of images that reveal power, strength and confidence in all four individuals.
As Rankin said, “I see the person, not the celebrity” for me I would love to be able to to get that feeling/emotion in an image getting the client to express their selves like Rankin does not with just his Portraiture work but within his other commercial work as well.
All the images above are by the British photographer Karl Taylor and all images are his copyright – https://www.karltaylorphotography.com/
Also look at Karl Taylors Portfolio page where you can see even more images of his work http://karltaylorportfolio.com/
All the images above are by the British photographer Karl Taylor and all images are his copyright – http://jakehicksphotography.com/
Posed Photo Shoot
I looked at the work of Rankin
I looked at the work of photographers including Brian Gilden
African Music & Charity Nite
I looked at the work of photographers including Jake Hicks,
Trail Outdoor of Camera Flash from (Re-Animation)
Flash Yongnuo YN560 III
2x Flash Diffusers (1 x Yellow, 1x Blue
Nikon D7100 APS-C 24.4 megapixel Camera
1x 50mm F1.8 G Lens with Stabilization(Prime)
1x 55-200mm Lens with Stabilization
1x Flash Trigger
1x Flash Receiver
1x K&F Tripod
Sony A7 35mm 24.3 Megapixel Full Frame Camera (Mirrorless)
Sony 16-50mm OSS Lens
Sony A5000 20.6 Megapixel APS-C Camera (Mirrorless)
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Galer, M., 2006. Digital Photography in Available Light. 3rd ed. Oxford: Focal Press.
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Hough, C., 2013. Studio Photography and Lighting Art and Technique. 1st ed. Ramsbury: The Crowood Press Ltd.
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Langford, M. & Bilissi, E., 2011. Langford’s Advanced Photography. 8th ed. Kidlington: Focal Press.
Montgomery, H., 2016. Are we suffering from a self-image crisis? Photographer Rankin and artist Alison Lapper investigate – The i newspaper online iNews. [Online]
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[Accessed 28 July 2017].
Niekerk, N. v., 2011. Off-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Photographers. 1st ed. Buffalo N.Y.: Amherst Media.
Niekerk, N. v., 2013. Direction & Quality of Light. 1st ed. Buffalo N.Y.: Amherst Media.
No Body’s Perfect. 2016. [Film] Directed by Ian Denyer. United Kingdom: Reef Television.
Tolmachev, I., 2011. A Brief History of Photographic Flash. [Online]
Available at: https://photography.tutsplus.com/articles/a-brief-history-of-photographic-flash–photo-4249
[Accessed 30 July 2017].