Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Exercise – Outdoors at night

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[As noted in last blog post, I am not doing the Light exercises strictly in order, rather I am doing them based on having the right light/weather/equipment conditions for each exercise]

Brief:

Take 12-20 shots to explore the variety of lighting effects and colour in artificial light, ideally in a city centre.

Results:

About half the shots I took were of the fronts of shops and other street-level buildings. There was quite a range of different effects depending on the combination of interior and street lighting. The gallery, the takeaway and the church all seem to glow in comparison to the relatively poorly lit street, while the Ted Baker and Reiss examples are more evenly lit from outside as well as inside. With the ‘self storage’ sign it is its own light source, so as the letters get higher, less of the backing board is visible from the ground.

The remainder take in a wider field of view, and the effects of the light sources stand out more against the backdrop of the sky. The sky takes on different shades depending on the time and the level of ambient light. The light trails pics, taken from a pedestrian bridge over a wide main road, give a real feeling of motion and direction. Colour-wise these two came out with a yellow cast, which I put down to the street lamps that lined the road.

Finally, I’ve included some photos that I confess I didn’t take specifically for this exercise – they were taken when I visited Paris in November, before I started on the Light section of the course – but I felt they depicted the ‘available light at night’ concept well enough to include here.

What I’ve learned:

I really enjoyed shooting at night. For most of these I shot handheld, with ISO  been bumped up to compensate. I particularly found the wider-angle ‘urban landscape’ shots interesting to shoot and look back at afterwards. I’m discovering that by manipulating the camera settings, it’s possible to make a sky look lighter than reality (e.g. by using a long shutter speed) and also to create visually appealing effects such as the light trails.

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