Soft Light Landscape

Exercise 1.9 involved taking photos of a suitable city or landscape either just after sunset, just before sunrise or when the sky was overcast. The aim being to make use of diffuse light.

So first things first. I didn’t follow the brief exactly. Where the exercise asked that we bracket the exposures using the shutter speed I missed that fact. In the end each of the shots I took was correctly exposed according to the lightmeter on my camera. Changing the proportions of sky and ground that were in the photograph automatically resulted in a change of shutter speed due to the light levels that were being detected.

Some of the photos required me to use the Bulb setting, which was a bit more challenging as it meant guessing how long to leave the shutter for. Never having used the Bulb function on my camera it took a bit of trial and error to figure out that I needed to press the button on my camera remote once to open the shutter and a second time to close it. Holding the button down apparently has no effect.

Second, both of the shoots I did involved making my way to open countryside. The sunset shoot was in a country park a couple of miles away from where I live. the views of a local village and open countryside were well worth the trip but there was the problem of being on your own with expensive camera equipment. Fortunately, there were 3 couples within shouting distance of where I was taking photos so it was reasonably safe. The walk to and from the car was a bit more unsettling because there wasn’t really anyone around at some points.

The sunrise shoot was a very lonely affair. Even though I wasn’t very far from civilisation I was at the top of a hill with only a herd of cows for company. Although I am convinced that one of them was a vampire cow because it didn’t show up on a photograph I took of them, the long exposure time should have meant I got a blurred image as it walked slowly from the herd to the edge of the field but I got nothing. The only person I saw was someone out walking their dogs as I was heading back to the car.

I have to admit that doing both shoots really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve never done gone out at night, and certainly not a 5am in order to take photos. It was definitely an experience and showed that to get the photographs we really want we have to accept that sometimes that means unsociable hours.

Of the two shoots I think I preferred the sunrise one. It was nice to be able to enjoy the tranquillity, broken only by the sound of the occasional car, train and recycling lorry. The opportunity to just be able to sit and look at the surrounding countryside and notice things I wouldn’t have had the chance to see normally was quite nice.

MDG_3120 with shadows and highlights layer
Stoke sub Hamdon, Somerset from Ham Hill (Shadow and Highlight adjusted)

Of the photographs I took at Ham Hill this is the one I liked the most because there was so much going on and so much to see. The more you look at the photograph the more you spot.

The original photograph was well exposed and as a result the car headlights became streams of light. The colour balance is fairly close to what I remember from the evening as it was quite dark.

I don’t think that there are any major distractions in the photo. I think the contrast between the ground area and the sky is perfect but there could have been a bit more contract between the buildings and the surrounding vegetation.


MDG_3120 with shadows and highlights layer version 2
Stoke sub Hamdon, Somerset from Ham Hill (Shadow and Highlight adjusted further)


The image above was the result of making adjustments to the mid-tones. I feel that the adjustments have made the image look like it was taken during daytime rather than after sunset. With the bright sky, the street and car lights do contradict what appears to be a sunny day.


Ham Hill to Stoke Sub Hambdon B&W-3120
Stoke sub Hamdon, Somerset from Ham Hill (converted to black and white in Lightroom)


I love black and white images. When it’s a landscape it gives it a timeless quality that, unless there are signs giving away the time period, means you could be looking at something from anytime in the last 100 years. I’m reminded of some of the photographs I’ve seen of the mining towns in the South Wales valleys where I grew up.


MDG_3130 with shadow and highlight layer
Yeovil town centre from Wyndham Hill (shadow and highlight adjusted)


Wyndham Hill is on the edge of Yeovil. On three sides it is surrounded by the town, to the south is countryside. There were so many different views to photograph.

I think the trees in the mid ground are a bit of a distraction because they hide a lot of the cityscape, however, where they dip leads the eye towards the dual carriageway which curves up and away to the left.

I think the colour balance in the image I’m more happy with than where I’ve adjusted it further.


MDG_3130 with shadow and highlight layer version 2
Yeovil town centre from Wyndham Hill (shadow and highlight further adjusted)


Again, adjusting the mid tones, lightens the image and makes it appear more like it was captured later in the day.


Wyndham Hill To Yeovil B&W-3130
Yeovil town centre from Wyndham Hill (converted to black and white in Lightroom)


I thought I’d see what this looked like in black and white.  Unlike the Ham Hill photo I don’t think it really works. Having a large part of the image filled by grass and trees the buildings are swamped.

Below are the contact sheets with all of the photos I took for this exercise. Interestingly Lightroom has truncated the captions, however, everything was shot at f/22.


Project 2 Exercises-1
Contact Sheet of all photographs for exercise




Project 2 Exercises-2
Second Contact Sheet of photographs for exercise










Bracketing Exposures

Exercise 1.8 involved taking a number of photos of an object and under-exposing and over-exposing the photo by changing the f-stop or shutter speed.


Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures Contact Sheet
Exercise 1.8 Contact Sheet


The above contact sheet shows the images that resulted from this exercise.

The subject in the photos is the dog and cat garden ornaments and with a clutter free garden it was easy to find a position to photograph them that meant they weren’t obscured by any other object.

The cat and dog are sitting on a gravel border and have the bottom of a fence behind them with a sliver of sunlight shining through the gap between the bottom of the fence and the path. None of this is distracting but there is a leaf in the background, just behind the dogs right year which is distracting once you notice it in the larger photos.

The ornaments are nicely in focus and there aren’t any major distractions in the composition.

The baseline image with f/11 and 1/80sec settings is well exposed, the other images are either under or over exposed but this is intentional.

As for contrast the cat stands out against both the gravel and the fence, however, although the dog stands out against the fence it’s colour doesn’t contrast against the gravel and it does tend to blend in in places.

The colour balance on the properly exposed photo is as I remember it to be.

Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f11 1 80
Exercise 1.8 Properly Exposed Photo
Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f11 1 60
Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f11 1 60
Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f11 1 50
Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f11 1 50


Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f11 1 40
Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f11 1 40



Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f11 1 100
Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f11 1 80



Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f11 1 80
Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f11 1 100



Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f13 1 80
Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f13 1 80



Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f14 1 80
Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f14 1 80



Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f10 1 80
Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f10 1 80



Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f9 1 80
Exercise 1.8 Bracketing Exposures f9 1 80



Shadows – Light and Shadow

When I started the Shadows project my first photos were taken in such a way that they were deliberately underexposed, usually to -2. This gave a lot of darker areas but wasn’t really dealing with shadow.

Eventually I figured out that I needed to be focusing on the highlights and ensure that they were a exposed as a mid-tone which then caused the shadows to become darker. My initial photos were taken during the evening and either involved bright areas of sky for the highlights or something that was lit by artificial light which was then used to set the exposure level. This allowed shadows to become darker more naturally.

Finding locations and things to take photographs of was a lot more of a challenge because of the need to have areas that were lit but also areas with shadows.

Exercise 1.6-2953
View over work

The above photograph was taken one evening after I’d been out with my family and my sister’s family for a meal. The building is where I work. The photograph was under exposed to darken the shadows.

I like the way the clouds are lit up by the sunset. I think a perfectly exposed photograph wouldn’t have quite had the same colours and I’d have needed to do a lot of editing to get a similar colour.

Exercise 1.6-2970
Kitchen window view

Again this photograph was deliberately underexposed. The subtle lighting on the fence and the lights from the neighbours house make parts of it stand out and draw the viewers eye.

Exercise 1.6-3046
Street Lamp

The image above the result of playing around one evening while sitting on my front doorstep. The street lamp kept lighting up and then going out so capturing images was a bit hit and miss sometimes.

Exercise 1.6-3051

I spotted this bright patch of sky while I was on my way out one evening. I decided to get my camera out and grab a photo. I like the way that the small chimney pots, TV aerials and vegetation stand out against the sky.

Exercise 1.6-3056
Warehouse – waiting for practice

The above photograph and the two below were taken while waiting to go into the studio for dance rehearsals. By this point I’d got my head around the idea that the objective of the exercise was to get the shadow and light correct not by underexposing the images but by using the lightmeter to expose the image so that the brightest part of it was set to be a standard exposure.

Exercise 1.6-3057
Warehouse – still waiting
Exercise 1.6-3058
Warehouse – time for practice
Exercise 1.6-3066
St John’s Church, Yeovil

I’ve taken a number of photographs of St John’s Church. It’s an easy place to get to and there are lots of interesting features, and also angles that can be used in photographs. The church has some useful lighting during the evening that gives some wonderful shadows as well as some lovely light.

Exercise 1.6-3071
St John’s Church, Yeovil


Exercise 1.6-3229
Hendford Hill bridge, Yeovil


Finally we have Hendford Hill bridge. While thinking about this exercise and where I could take photographs this place was one of the ones that quickly sprung to mind. Both images have been edited so that the blacks have been darkened and the whites have been lightened. I would have loved to get the same effect without editing, and that could have been done at noon on a sunny day. Unfortunately the day I went to take the photographs it was overcast. To get the effect I wanted needed processing through Lightroom and Photoshop.


Exercise 1.6-3240
Hendford Hill bridge, Yeovil (reverse view)


I enjoyed this exercise. If there is one thing I’ve learned from it is that it can take a lot of thought and planning plus a great deal of timing in order to get just the shot you want.