Assignment 2- Seeing Like Your Camera

This assignment revolves around high-contrast scenes. You will need to produce a set of photographs that demonstrate that you can pre-visualise how your digital camera ‘sees’ a scene.

For this assignment, I decided to choose a specific theme; as I wanted my assignment to have structure and interest. My theme is; SHOES! The three shoes I have chosen are:

– Wedding Shoe

– Wellie Boot

– Child’s Trainer

I will capture these three shoes in my chosen four situations that I have listed below:

1. Indoor space in which the only available light is strong natural window light

2. Any backlit scene, whether in direct or indirect light

3. Indoor scenes illuminated by a single source of artificial light of high luminance e.g. a desk lamp

4. A scene with strong incident dappled light.



I chose this specific lighting situation to introduce the three shoes that I am using for this assignment. I used a single desk lamp to the side of the subject to create strong contrast images.

Image 1- (f3.5, 1/40, ISO 800, WB Auto) Introducing the welly boot! This shot is almost like a sneak peek of what this specific shoe is. Therefore I used side lighting to illuminate the base of the boot and place the rest in shadow, effectively giving the scene a sense of mystery. I used spot metering, and measured different parts of the scene; measuring the brightest part as 1/13, and the darkest part as 1/80, giving me a dynamic range of approximately 3 stops. I then chose a few shutter speeds in between these two values, and decided that the best result was with 1/40. I used a wide aperture of f3.5 in order to focus only on the sole of the boot. I experimented with a few different white balance settings, but decided on Auto as it produced an image closest to what I saw. The image appears slightly darker than how I viewed it- however this fits with the effect I’m aiming for. I didn’t edit this image, but simply placed it in black and white to further create mystery and build on the aspect of this being a mere introduction to this specific shoe type.

IMG_4197 (2)

Image 2- (f3.2, 1/40, ISO 200, WB Auto) Introducing shoe number two; the wedding shoe! Again this shot was a sneak peak, however I didn’t want to lose the detail of the lace on the shoe, so this shot shows a little more of the shoe than my previous sneak peak. I used spot metering to measure the lightest and darkest parts of the image, calculating 1/10 as the darkest, and 1/640 as the brightest. Making for a very large dynamic range of approximately 6 stops. I went with a relatively low shutter speed of 1/40, and felt that it previewed well on my camera, with no highlight clipping. However, upon larger viewing on my laptop, there does appear to be slightly blown highlights to the back of the shoe due to the harsh directional lighting. I could have prevented this by moving the light further away from the subject- however this then would have resulted in a lack of detail of the fine lace on the shoe. Therefore I am happy with this compromise- (I am learning that compromise is a big part of photography!). I again used a large aperture of f3.2 to let in as much light as possible as I wanted to keep the ISO low to prevent noise.

IMG_4036 (3)

Image 3– (f3.2, 1/40, ISO 200, WB Auto) Introducing the baby shoe! Again I wanted this image to appear as a little sneak peak into what this shoe was. To do this I used a large aperture of f3.2 and focussed solely on the end of the lace, in order to blur the rest of the shoe. I felt that this worked well in creating a little preview of this shoe. I placed the shoe on a white background with a single desk lamp to the side. To gain a good exposure I measured the lightest and darkest areas of the shoe and picked a shutter speed in between the two. I used WB Auto as I think this works best in gaining the whitest background. The dark shadows created by the harsh directional light made for a high contrast scene with deep shadows which unfortunately split the image in half, creating different shades of grey and white. I will resolve this in part 2 of this assignment.

IMG_4455 (2)


Image 1- (f2.5, 1/1250, ISO 100, WB Daylight) I filled the welly boot with flowers in this shot to create a quirky vase type appearance. This wasn’t my favourite shot as I didn’t like the background- however, it was the only scene I could get to fulfill the assignment criteria for strong natural window light. I gained the best exposure by using Spot Metering, and metering off a mid-tone in the scene. The vast difference between the strong shadows and brightly lit areas made it very difficult to get an even exposure in this image. Therefore, some of the wallpaper to the top left of the scene is slightly clipped, as are a few of the white flowers. However, when using a faster shutter speed, the welly boot appeared underexposed and detail was lost, therefore I was happy with the exposure I chose. The end result of this image appears very close to the scene as I perceived it.


Image 2– (f3.2, 1/30, ISO 100, WB daylight) I set the wedding shoe in front of a stain glass window in order to create a church-type feel to this shot. It had snowed on this specific day, so the pure white colour of the snow created a very bright background behind the stain glass window. This produced a very high contrast image which was difficult to expose. My aim for this shot was to gain as little highlight clipping on the window as possible, whilst still trying to get good light on the front of the shoe so as not to lose too much detail. To do this, I used spot metering on my camera and measured the brightest part of the image and the darkest shadowed areas, and decided on an acceptable shutter speed between the two. I set my camera to WB daylight, due to the natural light streaming through the windows in the room. I used a low ISO of 100 in order to reduce any noise. I was pleased with the finished result- there was only a small amount of clipping towards the centre of the white background of the image, and the detail on the shoe was still relatively clear. I did not edit this image, but merely converted it to black and white in order to further the vintage feel church theme.

IMG_4536 (3)

Image 3- (f3.5, 1/2000, ISO 100, WB Auto) I set the baby shoe in front of a window on a slim area of bright sunlight streaming along the wooden floor. This was quite a tricky image to expose, but I wanted to solely expose for the shoe and nothing else. Therefore, the compromise I had to make in this image was to allow the background to fall into deep shadow in order to expose correctly for the shoe. I set my camera to spot metering and exposed the brightest part of the shoe and the darkest part. I then decided on a shutter speed in between the two values, and took a quick test shot to make sure there was no highlight clipping on my camera’s histogram. I set my white balance to Auto for neutral tones throughout. The shadows in the image appear much darker than they actually were in reality, however this was what I had expected when calculating my exposure. I am very happy with the finished result in this image.



Image 1- (f3.5, 1/25, ISO 1600, WB Shade) I placed rows of tealights behind the subject in this image in order to create a backlit scene. I used spot metering to measure the brightest areas and the darkest areas of the scene, and then decided on an appropriate shutter speed. I used quite a slow shutter speed due to the weak candle-light, and used a high ISO of 1600 (calculated in the previous exercise ‘your camera’s tolerance for noise’ as the highest ISO my camera can reach before noise appears). I wanted the image to be light enough to show the detail on the shoe yet not overexpose the candle flames, and I think I achieved this well. I tried out a couple of White Balance settings, but decided on WB shade, as this gave the image a beautiful orange glow which suited the candlelit appearance I was aiming for. I used a large aperture in order to get a nice bokeh in the candle flames. This was my favourite image out of the set as it’s got a lovely magical feel.

IMG_4185 (3)

Image 2- (f7.1, 1/400, ISO 100, WB Daylight) For this photo, I placed the welly boot in a field, as this is where it would spend most of its time! It was midday, so there was very bright sunlight streaming down from behind the subject. My tutor informed me that the strongest aperture range of a camera is f7-f11, so I took advantage of this information and used  f7.1 in this shot. This brings in more detail and colour in the grass and surrounding area. This was another image that I found difficult to expose correctly. I metered off a mid-tone in the scene, and this seemed to work pretty well. The welly is a little dark- but in lighter exposures that I captured, the background was far too bright. This was the closest image to the scene as I perceived it at the time.


Image 3– (f5.6, 1/500, ISO 100, WB Daylight) I set the little baby shoe on top of a wall with the sun shining from directly behind. It was a windy day- so unfortunately the wind blew one lace out of place in this image- weakening the shot slightly. I only noticed this error upon larger viewing of the image on my laptop; showing the importance of checking images thoroughly on sight (as taught in my workflow plan!). The bright sun made this another difficult shot to expose for. I set the WB to daylight due to the sunny conditions, and metered off a mid-tone light gray in order to achieve a correct exposure. This worked relatively well in balancing out the dark and light tones in the scene- the shoe was only slightly darker than I would have liked, and there was only a minor amount of clipping in the sky. This was the best compromise I could have hoped for in this shot. The background appeared much brighter in real life, but my camera’s processing did a pretty good job of reducing the brightness without affecting the exposure of the shoe too dramatically.



Image 1- (f5.6, 1/200, ISO 100, WB Daylight) I placed my wedding shoe on a mass of wedding magazines to create a fun and interesting background. I used the strong natural light streaming through the window blinds as my dappled light source. The blinds created dappled light of shadowed and bright areas, creating a high contrast scene that ranged from 1/60 to 1/2000. I used a shutter speed in between the two extremes to gain a good exposure. I exposed the shot in order to lose no detail whatsoever in the shadowed areas, and I aimed for no highlight clipping in the light areas. I feel that I achieved both of these aims, and the detail of the lace in the shoe is relatively clear in both the bright and shadowed areas. The shadows from the blinds weren’t as evident to the naked eye as they were to the camera- this was the main difference I noticed between my perception of the image and my cameras.


Image 2- (f3.2, 1/40, ISO 200, WB Auto) This was my least favourite shot from this assignment, simply because it’s a little boring! However, due to my illness, I don’t get out very much, so I have to capture a lot of my images around the house. This requires a lot of imagination- which I simply couldn’t think of for this specific shot. However, it does what is asked in this exercise; and shows a high contrast scene of dappled light in the form of shadowed and bright areas formed by sunlight shining through trees. I wanted this to be quite a dark image with the shadowed areas of the trees on the grass being the predominant feauture, whilst still showing the outline and vague colour of the welly.  The image came out a little lighter than I had wanted- with a small amount of highlight clipping in the sky. However, any darker and the welly would have been a mere silhouette- which was not what I was aiming to achieve. For this shot I used spot metering and exposed the lightest and darkest areas; choosing a few exposures in between and selecting my favourite upon larger inspection. I’m happy with how my camera processed this image, and feel that it looks close enough to what I had in mind as my finished result.

IMG_4036 (3)

Image 3- (f5.0, 1/640, ISO 100, WB Daylight) I placed the little baby trainer on top of a football to create a quirky image showing probably the first thing a father wants to teach his little boy; how to kick a football! To create dappled light I placed a football net in between the subject and the bright midday sun. There was a large mass of white in this image, so my priority was to evenly expose these areas and create no highlight clipping. To do this, I used spot metering to measure the darkest and lightest parts of the scene- and then picked a value much nearer to the lighter value in order to expose mainly for my two subjects. I did not edit this photo, but merely placed it in black and white in order to focus the eye solely on the two main subjects. I was very happy with how my camera processed this image, and it appears very close to how I perceived it and exactly how I wanted it to turn out.



Select one of the four situations that you chose in Part One and think about what the lighting conditions should be in order to reduce the contrast of the scenes that you photographed or even make them low contrast scenes. Once you have decided which conditions would result in low contrast scenes, photograph the same three images in your chose situation in those conditions.

I chose to use the following lighting condition; Indoor scenes illuminated by a single source of artificial light of high luminance e.g. a desk lamp

I wasn’t sure how much of the lighting condition that I wanted to change, as I wanted to see how I could improve upon the single desk lamp that I had without adding any other light sources to it. I could have added in a second lamp for more even lighting- but I wanted the challenge of improving upon the single desk lamp without adding anymore lighting. For all the improved images below I set all the subjects up in the same position as the previous shots. I then moved the lamp from the side of the subject to directly in front of the subject. I also raised it slightly so that it was pointing down a little at the subject. All this was to create less harsh lighting and shadows. To further reduce the shadows I added a diffuser in front of the lamp; this worked in softening the subject greatly, producing more even lighting and resulting in a much lower contrast scene. I used spot metering to measure a mid-tone in each image, and set my exposure accordingly; this seemed to work well. Below are the three reduced contrast images along with the previous high contrast images for easy comparison.

Image 1- BEFORE

IMG_4197 (2)

Image 1- AFTER (f3.2, 1/30, ISO 800, WB Auto) IMG_4499 (2)2

Image 2- BEFORE

IMG_4036 (3)

Image 2- AFTER (f5.6, 1/13, ISO 200, WB Auto)

IMG_4382 (3)1

Image 3- BEFORE

IMG_4455 (2)

Image 3- AFTER (f2.2, 1/30, ISO 400, WB Auto)

IMG_4480 (2)1

I found this to be the most challenging assignment so far on this course. However, I learnt an awful lot- and am now able to deal with high contrast situations, and determine how my camera will deal with each individual scene. A very helpful assignment indeed.


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