Assignment 4 Languages of Light

Assignment 4- Languages Of Light (A)

Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part 4  (4.2, 4.3 or 4.4 Prepare it for formal assignment submission.


The exercise I found I learnt the most from in ‘Languages of Light’ was exercise 4.2. The sequence of images shot at different times throughout the day opened my eyes to the importance of light when creating a mood or story and planning for a shoot.

The arthouse movie, ‘In The Mood for Love’ by Christopher Doyle uses artificial lighting to accentuate the mood of love and betrayal. The bare and stark light bulbs illuminate the delicate contours of the Chinese actors adding to the fragility of the storyline. Restaurant menus are used to cast soft reflective lighting onto the face that only need subtle expression to portray a feeling. As I watched and took notes of lighting techniques, I became on several occasions distracted by the actual compositions of the movie and how many outlines were used to frame the subjects. The framing of the actors, whether through a door, window or hallway gives the viewer an idea that you are observing or spying on real life rather than watching a performance made for the audience. Each scene could have easily made a ‘still’ photograph to stand alone. It is the use of lighting and framing together that are important in creating the style and effect of the movie.

I decided to take the idea of ‘framing’ instead of lighting from ‘In the mood for Love’ and combined it with the exercise 4.2 natural light.

I have a big picture window that looks onto the garden beyond, so I set up my DSLR camera on a tripod and placed it directly in front of the window frame. I set aperture priority to either F 20 or F22 to keep the depth of field sharp and created a set of images, mainly on hourly intervals throughout the day by using the selftimer function to activate the shutter. I lowered the iso rating from 400 to 200 and LO at points to see if I could capture or notice greater detail.

I wanted to create a frame or boundary to enclose the image. This draws attention to the contents and invites the viewer to enter and explore the interior of the frame without dictating where the eye should land.

In his Paradise series, Thomas Struth photographed dense jungles around the world. By closely cropping sections, they become annonymous sections of overgrowth. Struth describes the framing as membranes for meditation’ – (Cotton C, 2014:105).

In an excerpt from an interview, Struth says he didn’t want specific places that are recognisable, instead looking more for ‘the moment of beginning that was once the world’ –(

Thomas also goes on to say in the same interview ,“I don’t understand why so many people equate the notion of paradise with escapism. Paradise was never a place one could enter. Though, in this global moment escapism is no longer an issue either”

Struth’s idea of non-escapism is completely opposite of mine. My window to the outside is absolute escapism. Without my view of the outside world I am left with brick walls and only an ability to look inwardly to myself and the objects contained within the walls. Looking out gives me hope, allows me to wander in my mind when I can’t physically leave. My garden is my jungle and uplifts and transports me when I need it to. Struth says that paradise is unable to enter, but paradise can be a ‘state of mind’ It dosen’t have to be a physical. Again, he refers to escape as not being important. I think that In this ‘global moment’ escape can be more important than ever.

Paradise=An Idyllic place or state./ A place or condition of great happiness where everything is exactly as you would like it to be. -Dictionary


Having saved my camera twice from family members trying to navigate a newly arranged living area, I dismantled the tripod and viewed the images using Photoshop. After a whole day of monitoring and alarm setting I was really disappointed with the outcome of the images. They were not nearly as sharp as I wanted them to be. Factors considered include, slight movement from breeze outside, shooting through double paned glass and not having access to a larger format camera. I also spent a frustrating amount of time in Photoshop trying to perfect lens distortion. I couldn’t make the window frame seem like a ‘frame’ because of the difference in shadow to one side of the wall. The overall deciding factor to shelve this idea though was the overall sharpness of the images. I feel that my idea in this assignment was strong, but the execution was not achieved. At these times, you wish you were in the presence of other students and tutors.

Assignment 4-Languages of Light (B)

Not happy with my first assignment attempt, I have decided to choose another exercise whilst incorporating elements from my previous ideas and research.

More often than not my teenage son stays up later than me and like most young people can be found on his laptop in the evening. The artificial room light is always off as he dosen’t seem to notice how dark or late it is. This allows for the reflected light to light his face. The light is draining of natural skin tones and depicts an almost lifeless demeanor. I was able to shoot through the window from outside unoticed.

I used manual mode and the widest aperture on my chosen 55-70 lens which was 2.8, I could handhold this around 1/60 and 1/40 as I had increased the iso to 1000 and then to1600.

Creativity Criteria:

In exercise 4.3 I took a sequence of shots capturing the ‘beauty of artificial light’. I have developed this idea and taken the elements of my window, the outside world, from before to intertwine a series of images depicting the outside with evening natural light, combined with artificial indoor lighting from ‘blue light’ devices such as computers and television.

In ‘The Dreamers’, Photographer Laura Morton takes images of the ‘new techies’. She photographed software programmer Ben Greenwood in his room where he also works, lit by the screen of his computer. (Smyth D. 2016.83)

In researching for these pictures I found the photographer Nick Turpin who used a long lens at 1/40 of a second in photographing through glass and at night which shows the modern capabilities of digital cameras. This answers my question to my original exercise when I was surprised how I could handhold and look through the window with a slow shutter speed. ‘In learning photography I was always told that anything hand held below 1/60 would result in an unsharp image. These pictures were all hand-held between 1/20 & 1/10 and considering they were also shot through a window are surprisingly sharp.’-Exercise 4.3 out take.

As humans, we are ever curious about learning and connecting with others, now often looking inwards to find answers quickly on the world wide web instead of finding out for ourselves by looking and experiencing life outside. As the internet becomes central to us for knowledge and answers, the reflections cast on the windows stay constant reminding us of our place on the planet.

Final Selection for submission.


Cotton C. 2014:’Deadpan’ The Photograph as Contemporary Art’ Thames & Hudson, London.p105.

Noemie Goudal ‘Haven Her Body Was’. Feurerhelm B. 2012 [online] accessed July 2016. Feuerhelm

Thomas Struth ‘Paradise Series’ [accessed July 2016]

Laura Morton -.‘BJP Weird Science’ Smith D.April 2016. P83

Nick Turpin-‘Through a glass Darkly’ [accessed July 2016]

‘In The Mood For Love’-(Dir.Wong Kar-Wai 2000) [accessed July 2016]

Tutor Feedback: I received a really positive feedback assessment for this assignment especially in the ‘creative’ sense. 

My tutor was interested as to whether there could have been some text for each image. I think this is a good idea as it helps to portray what the photographer wants to say. Too much narrative however could distract the viewer from their own  perceptions.








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