Difficult Lighting

Some light reading…

If like me you’ve receive gift cards as presents, you can do no wrong in buying a book.

I’ve just recently bought three books that have proved extremely helpful
in the lighting of objects and lighting in general.

The Tenterden Museum project I’ve been working on certainly threw up some challenges in regards to lighting, and with a limited knowledge on the subject I had to learn by trial & error.

One of my first challenges at the museum was the tapestry made by the children of Tenterden Junior school in 1974, it wraps its way onto three walls and protected by an acrylic screen.
This screen created a mass of unwanted reflections caused by the various spotlights, you could see everything except the tapestry, not a good thing, if that’s what you want to see.

Tapestry panel with reflection problem

On this occasion I overcame the reflection issue by trial & error,
I knew I needed some lights and been able to control what was being
reflected. So I bought a very cheap lighting kit, in fact extremely cheap!
But even so, having this kit allowed me to move the lighting around and keep the reflections to a minimum and under my control, unlike those caused by the fixed spotlights which were now turned off.

I in effect used the lighting kit to ‘up-light’ the tapestry panels from below, which gave a fairly even light distribution without those dreaded
reflections. I should also mention I used a polarising filter to help further in getting the desired result.

Tapestry panel now up-lit from the bottom reduces the amount of unwanted reflection.

It was after this when I realised I needed some more knowledge on
lighting, and so the first book I bought was Light Science and Magicwhich took you into the comprehensive theory and principles of light, and it was made easy with step by step illustrations & diagrams, so If you want to
improve how things look with light, then this book is worth looking at,
irrespective of photographic experience. 

Since the items in the museum could be regarded as old products, it seemed like a good idea to get a book on product photography. So the next book I bought was Lighting for Product Photography and this book gave me an insight on lighting for colour, so when it came to photographing some mayoral regalia, I knew I wanted to show the colour of the metal, but how?

Again reflections came into the mix, this time by two large windows pouring light into the scene, it was an office environment so I couldn’t turn off any unwanted light.

The mayors badges, colour washed out by office lighting and light from the windows

Fortunately a few days prior, I had a practice run at home with some old brass slot machine tokens which were laid out on a black fleece. I needed to create a setup that would work regardless of envoironment.

The colour of the metal required and not the office environment.

It didn’t take much, just an umbrella(photographic) and a speedlight/flash unit. I had the umbrella mounted on a tripod angled over the object, and the speedlight on the camera aimed up into the umbrella, the result was, I got the colour of the metal I wanted and without all the unwanted light from the office environment.

The final book, Perfect Exposure  It’s self explanatory so I won’t go into it too much, but if you are not sure about histograms and how to read them, then this should be a good book for you and will help in getting those exposures right.

Well that’s it for my brief overview of what can be achieved with a little bit of reading, going out and having a go.