Sunday, February 14, 2010

Project 58

For this project I selected a potted plant, an "Anthurium Dakota", possessing large leaves casting significant shadow if not releived.  I set up the still life on my work table using a single diffused flash gun and a Lastolite reflector as shadow fill device, rather than using white card and tin foil (which I did not have at the time).  The image below shows this setup at the every end of the process, when I had positioned a second diffuser to the rear of the plant to create a high key final image.

I set my camera on a tripod with an 85mm prime.  Flash power was set for an exposure of 1/125, f/8, ISO 100.

The first image is taken without the diffuser on the light

This image has very crisp hard shadows, the shadow caste by the plant pot is particularly siginificant.  The light has also created bright reflections from the plant pot and the shiny leaves of the plant.  Adding the diffuser to the light created the following image:

Now the shadows are much softer and the lighting of the plant pot is far more even and pleasing to the eye.  for the next image I have added my reflector, but simply with the white surface of the diffuser, so only partially reflecting the light

This has reduced the shadowing and in particular lightened the green of the leaves in the rear of the plant.  For the next image I have brought the reflector much closer.  The difference is subtle but the shadows in the upper part of the plant have brightened slightly.  

Covering the reflector with a silver surface yielded the following image

In this case the image now has some reflections on the side opposite the light and I would say that this has not improved the image.  The softer shadows caste by the white surface have a more pleasing quality than those created by the silver surface.  My final adjustment is to the background.  The background I have used is a white sheet of felt covering the bookcase behind the camera. This has rendered grey in the images as it is not strongly illuminated.  I have replaced that background by a second flash gun with a large soft box in front

This has improved the background, however, the line where the background meets the base board is distracting - so 5 minutes in Photoshop and

This is admittedly a slight cheat, but I do not have an infinity curve!  There is still much room for improvement as the plant is overexposed.  The plant itself is shiny and not very absorbent of light and so a difficult object to light.  A third light would improve things as it would enable the shadow to the right of the plant to be diminished more than the reflector is capable of

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