Monday, March 17, 2008

Lighting 102: Unit 2.2 - Specular Highlight Control

This is the fourth lesson of the Lighting102 course on strobist.com and definitely for me the most fun. It showed me what I was capable of with the right tools and knowledge in my hands.

This lesson, Lighting 102: Unit 2.2 - Specular Highlight Control, covers the fourth lighting zone, or area, which is usually brighter than the diffused highlight. The previous lesson had covered the three lighting zones 'the diffused highlight', 'the shadow' and 'the diffused highlight to shadow transfer area'.

The specular highlight is not really a lighting zone but rather the reflection of the light source in the object you are lighting. Although it's relatively simple to understand and carry out in its basic form, it would also seem to have a lot to offer for manipulating images with much more sophistication.

For this lesson, I decided to shoot a glass mainly because I had always wanted to take a nice picture of a glass, and using on-camera flash makes this down right impossible.

The first image, below, was taken with two strobes (580EX II) placed on either side, set to 24mm zoom and at 1/128 power. The strobes are being shot through white acrylic plastic to diffuse the light.

The wide zoom angle gives a nice even specular effect on the glass.

One thing I learned from the photo above in particular, was how important it is to focus on the logo on the front or if no logo on the front of the glass. Having the logo out of focus is very distracting and makes the picture look bad.

This second image below was taken with two strobes placed on either side, set to 105mm zoom and at 1/128 power. The strobes are being shot through white acrylic plastic to diffuse the light.

This time with the zoom set to 105mm, the specular is far more focussed on the middle of the glass. If you look at the larger image you can also clearly see the edges of the light box in the specular.


This image below was taken with two strobes placed on either side, set to 50mm zoom and at 1/32 power on the left and 1/128 power on the right. The strobes are being shot through white acrylic plastic to diffuse the light.

I light this effect very much as it seems to give more shape to the glass.



This image below was taken with one strobe placed on camera left and set to 24mm zoom and at 1/128 power. The strobe is being shot through white acrylic plastic to diffuse the light.

When I downloaded the images from the camera I liked this the most. But I think that it was because it was different to the other images shot with two strobes. In the end, the image above is a stronger image and having two strobes gives you much more control over the shape you are defining. If I was to take this again I would try and put a white reflector camera right to see if I could get a slight contour to help shape the glass.



This image below was taken with two strobes placed on either side, set to 24mm zoom and at 1/8 power. The strobes are being bounced of a ceiling with white shoot through umbrellas acting as gobos - but letting just a hint of light through.

In the larger size of this image there is a lot of stuff going on, with reflections almost being feathered by the glass. I think it looks really pretty but at the same time I can see that it may also make the image distracting.



This lesson was great and it gave me a lot more confidence that I had after the third lesson, which left me wondering if I had really "got it". This time I seemed to have understood manipulating the image with the reflection of the light - now I just have to see how I can put it into action.

Now onto my first assignment...

Please feel free to leave comments or questions about this article and I will endeavor to answer them as soon as possible.

Previous lessons from Lighting102:

No comments: