Exercise 4.2: Artificial Light

Capture ‘the beauty of artificial light’

For this exercise I wanted to to capture ambient light rather than fixed studio , mainly as I feel there is so much variety available in the city that I would find no end of different scenes and feelings to capture.

Below is a selection of images that I feel convey different emotions and feelings either through the composition or directly from the tone of the light itself.

This first image is of a pair windows from the Salford Univeristy building, I stopped off there one night after spotting the direct and varied lighting used on the historic building and thought it would be an interesting area to explore as the contrast between the modern lighting and red brick built architecture created some interesting scenes. This particular image I selected not for the way light has fallen or the tone of the lighting but rather for the way the internal lighting highlighted the blinds being partially drawn in manner that reminded me of the way peoples eyes start to close when tired, almost as if the building is off to bed after a busy day. The poster in the foreground is one distraction I’m unsure of, it either distracts or adds more to the anthropomorphism of the composition.

This is another image I selected for this exercise for very similar reasons to ‘Sleepy Head’. Shot on Salford Quays on an evening when groups of people where out driving their cars erratically in a car park behind the woods, Their brake-lights and the dust they kicked up created this warm orange cloud which rose over and around the trees. As I walked past I noticed how the path towards the car park framed the orange light and that the street lights lined up perfectly for yellowish foreboding eyes to the fiery mouth.

This image I chose for the opposite reasons to my first two images. This image is a building under construction on Salford Quays, I chose to shoot this image as I found the structure of the building really interesting when lit this way. The flood of cold whit light is very sterile and contemporary, giving the building a futuristic feel, mainly as the building having no exterior allows the light to pass very freely as if full transparent glass. I also immediately thought of the way traditional Japanese buildings are built, the tiers of the rooflines, squareness in the shape and the surround gantry flicking out like the temple roof’s.

Another image from Salford Quays, this time of an art installation for the winter season. This particular display was a hexagonal tube with lighting strip running its length with a mirrored rippled rear plate. The effect shown here is what people saw when wearing filtered glasses to cause diffraction and scattering of those lights, lifting those glasses to the camera lens I could capture the effect. I love how a static image is filled with speed and motion from the effect caused.

Shot on a misty evening in December, I stepped outside to the bin and just had the urge to take advantage of the thick soup outside. This postbox is one street over form my home and what is a very bland environment during the day is so much more under these conditions. I found this simple scene so interesting for several reasons. The way the artificial light catches every detail in the concrete and grass, the silhouettes and highlights of the building through the mist gradually blocking out everything past a certain point, the parked car looking abandoned and the way the white light cast the focus on the postbox which results in the shadow akin to a celebrity walking out on stage.

The clock tower above Ancoats has this gorgeous multi toned stain glass face, The evening of taking this photo was so clear and with the sun beyond the horizon a deep rich blue sky highlighted and contrasted the clock just right. The inclusion of the windows helps tell the story of the people who live in this building, each with their own tone of lighting and one light off catches the reflection of the sky.

This image of a bus was shot with a panning action to ‘freeze’ the bus but ensure the movement is translated in the shifted background. I chose to include this as the contrast between the bus lights and the street lighting not only helps highlight the subject and the technique but also communicates the two time lines in the city. This who are on the bus off to work the bright white keeping the up for the evening whilst the rest of the city slow dulls down in the orangey red light of the street lighting.

This final image is taken on the Quays once again. I selected this image as it reminds me of Paris. The shape of the lamps in the deco style running alongside the water in the docks. I also feel that it creates different feelings because of the way the light falls, the high contrast and overhanging trees can be daunting for what is beyond and in front but also the pools of light create little safe places to stand and enjoy the Quays.

Overall, this exercise has been a challenge in rebooking at familiar scenes and ho the light has changed the composition, feel and scope of an image. My take away is that not only can artificial light create deep, interesting and challenging shadows but can also pick out the smallest details in texture. The way we balance the light and shadows can change the feel of the scene drastically, from flat and uninteresting to dangerous or cosy. I find that the tone of the light can lean into these concepts heavily, we associate extreme reds and whites with danger and coldness respectively but that area in the middle can express so much more. In terms of technique, I find that with todays systems complex scenes are significantly easier to balance, manipulate and correct, the difficult decision is deciding how to present the scene.

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