Assignment 4 The Language of Light.

In this exercise I want to show how something most of us come into regular contact with can with some work be made to look extraordinary.

We will look at how I approached the brief. The steps I took to produce the images including the research I did before starting. I will review the settings used so you and I can reproduce the work at anytime. To end I will review what I see as viable applications for this process.

In doing research for this brief I came across a photo by Lee Miller of Mary Taylor taken in 1933 (1). It shows an isolated head which is superbly detailed and lit.This made me think of the Egg exercise I had done early in the module. I decided to revisit it for the project.

Lee Miller used a great subject for her shot  I.e Mary Taylor. She isolated her head using black material for dramatic effect. It produced an exquisite shot which is beautiful in its simplicity. You must ask why her work has not been sufficiently recognised in the past. Could it be because she was a woman in a mans world?

I wanted to take a subject which is ordinary and through good practise can make it extraordinary. Here is what I did.

I read Langford’s Basic Photography chapter about “BasicCharacteristics of Lighting” has a series of 9 photos of lighting a bust (2). I decided to try to produce even better quality images than before. If I am honest I thought it would be quick and easy. Five hours later I had changed my mind.

I set up my home studio with the black sheet in it Velvet side up. I placed a plumbing fitting under the sheet so it wasn’t visible but the egg was stable.

I set up the flash on a wireless trigger so I could fire it off camera. It was set at 1/3 power with the flash on manual rather than Through the Lens as it wasn’t on the hot shoe.

I placed the camera on a tripod I wanted the camera held in the same position. I used a canon 100mm Macro Lens. The lens was set with an aperture of f16. Shutter speed of 1/180 of a second. ISO of 100 gave good detail.

The flash gun was hand held but I placed a piece of string under the box to ensure the flash was the same radius from the egg. The string was 0.35m long the length to focus the lens. I took low left, center and right. Then repeated level with middle of the egg, then above the egg.

I was amazed on reviewing the egg with the detail caught. You can see the individual pores on the surface of the egg. Plus you can see condensation forming, the egg had come from the fridge on a humid day.


I can see this process being used in the fashion industry. Museums to record artifacts, changing the mood on cultural things, and forensic work.

Aaron Rose who shows perfect use of light in his short film New York La la la (3). The film set, Skaters and girls are all perfectly lit. Making the film ooze quality and making every second very watchable. Even a lady not smoking a cigarette is made to be extraordinary. He was astute when he said ” in the right light, at the right time everything is extraordinary”. (4). Even an egg lit properly becomes a thing of wonder.

So what is light? It is electromagnetic radiation, it comes in wavelengths and is made of protons. When it hits a surface it gives color depending on strength, direction and wavelength it gives different light levels and colours. Light is fundamental to photography, which means light writing. Langford’s Basic of photography says “Light (photons) cause electronic responses in digital cameras”.(5)

A great example of using attention to detail to produce great quality form an ordinary subject is “The Masque”.(6) by Jean Baptiste Huynh.  It is beautiful with mystery in the detail. Even the dark areas have detail and quality.

img_5902I chose an egg as I didn’t want anything but the simplest form so as not to add additional connotations by using a man made object.

In conclusion if you look, and use light properly you can produce work that will make the ordinary look extraordinary.


References                                                                                                                                                     (1) Miller, L. (2016). LeeMiller | LeeMiller. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Aug. 2016].                                                                                                                           (2) (5)Langford, M., Fox, A., Smith, R., Bruce, A. and Agossou, M. (2015). Langford’s basic photography. 10th ed. New York and London: Focal Press., pp.205-212.
(3) New York La La La.. (2015). [You Tube Video.] Paramount Studios Los Angeles. USA.: Aaron Rose and Andre Saraiva
(4) Light in art. (1998). The Readers Digest, 152, p.185.
(6) (2016). Jean Baptiste Huynh – Monochrome. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Aug. 2016].


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