The exercise requires taking a starting point shooting in a studio or a controlled environment that replicates a studio and ‘building’ shots “Ex Nihilo” – from nothing.
To build from nothing using studio lighting is a great opportunity to learn about how light works in terms of its quality, its contrast, its direction and its colour. To understand studio lighting gives greater awareness of light when shooting outside of a studio setting.
An infinity curve was set-up and a plant chosen as a natural subject suitable for lighting exercises.
The shots show different styles of lighting the same subject.
Shot 1, f5, 1/15, ISO 100)
Lighting Diagram for Shot 1: exnihiloshot1lightingdiagram
The subject was lit, honeycombed from front left and filled from the right using an umbrella and leaving a diffuser head on the speedlight. The effect is that the plant is broadly lit with only some areas of strong highlight on some of the leaves.
Shot 2 (f5, 1/15, 100)
Lighting Diagram for Shot 2: exnihiloshot2lightingdiagram
The subject was lit using a coloured gel and some fill light from the right as before. The gel gives a strong blue colour cast and their is shadow on the background. The shadow could have been alleviated if I had moved the fill light further forward toward the subject and the infinity curve and perhaps increased its strength though I liked the shadow with the blue gel effect as I felt it had a pleasing moody feel.
Shot 3 ( F5, 1/15, ISO 100)
Lighting Diagram for Shot 3: exnihiloshot3lightingdiagram
The subject is lit here using a snoot and no fill light. The light is aimed at the leaves near the centre-top of the plant making them much more visible in the shot than the background, the plant pot and the other leaves of the plant.
Shot 4 (f5, 1/15, ISO 100)
Lighting Diagram for Shot 4: exnihiloshot4lightingdiagram
The subject is lit here using the snoot again, only this time the snoot has been angled slightly lower and using a fill light from above right. The effect is that the plant’s most forward-low leaves are well lit in addition to the plant pot and the whole of the subject is gently and softly lit so that there is much less contrast than in the previous shot.
Shot 5 (f5, 1/15, ISO 100)
Lighting Diagram for Shot 5: exnihiloshot5lightingdiagram
Here the subject is lit using barn doors and an umbrella for some fill light. The narrow channel of light produced by the barn doors (though much less narrow than the snoot) has a strong quality which the fill of the light from the umbrella cannot fight against in terms of the shadow produced on the background. Additional lights could be added for background lighting if the shadow needed to be removed. The fill here adds a diffuse and more general light allowing for a little less contrast between the light from the barn doors and the scene in general as it would be if there was no fill light.
Shot 6 (f5, 1/15, ISO 100)
Lighting Diagram for Shot 6: exnihiloshot6lightingdiagram
For the final shot the light used was moved slightly further to the right and the camera moved into shooting in vertical format and moved further to the right in order to obtain a composed and lit vertical format shot. The modifier was a globe/ball light used for a diffuse and ‘global’ sense of lighting. The subject is gently lit with no sharp contrasts and no areas where crisp light adds to a sense of sharpness with the point of focus of the camera.