light & lighting: light, mood & emotion (module 1)

In addition to Thinking Visually, I am taking a class called Light & Lighting this semester.

For our first week of module activities (yes, I’m late posting! I did the activity, but then skipped the whole “posting to the blog” part…whoops!), we were given a series of images and asked to “describe the light in the image, how it looks, and how it makes you feel.”.

The images were:

Image 1 - This first image is very dark and moody. The light is warm, but quite harsh, producing a strong contrast on the subject’s face and leaving half of the face in complete shadow. The light is dramatic, and it gives the photograph a dramatic feel as well, in conjunction with the subject’s pose. Most of the subject is in darkness, as is his surroundings, which leaves the viewer with the sense that there is much about this man that we don’t know, that is in mystery, in darkness.

Image 2 - This image, in contrast to image 1, holds the subject in full, soft light. There are no harsh shadows, the only shadows present are very soft and serve to add light depth to the subject’s face. The brightness of the image and the strong focus on the subject’s eyes help give the photograph a strong connection with the viewer. The light itself is warm enough to keep the subject’s skintone natural, however it does seem to have a cool element to it, which adds a bit of mystery to the image.

Image 3 - The third image again is very bright, using full light to bring a sense of happiness and openness to the image. The image is intended, based on the subjects, to be a happy one, and the bright and even light help to make the image accessible and happy to the viewer. The bright, warm tones further add to this impression.

Image 4 - This final image is striking in that it uses a similar quality and direction of light as Image 3, however the change in tone from warm to cool gives the image a strikingly different feel. This colouring, which compliments the subject matter, gives a feeling of physical cold and isolation by making use of the cooler light. There is also high contrast in the light, which further adds drama to the image.

Following this, we were asked to find four images that used light in a way that evokes an emotion and to comment on this. I chose:

 From Mango Street Lab - https://www.mangostreetlab.com/blog/cinematic-photoshoot

From Mango Street Lab - https://www.mangostreetlab.com/blog/cinematic-photoshoot

This photo is part of a series on Cinematic Images, so it is hardly surprising that the lighting used is very evocative. In this image, harsh shadows create tension and drama in the subject’s faces, but warm light adds a sense of nostalgia (to fit with the scene) and to draw the viewer into the world of the subjects. The light is creeping into the image, mirroring the contemplative expressions of the subjects - as if the light is creeping into their thoughts as well as their surrounds.

 From @paigeeversonfineart on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/p/BizQkdCgVkv/?taken-by=paigeeversonfineart

From @paigeeversonfineart on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/p/BizQkdCgVkv/?taken-by=paigeeversonfineart

This image cleverly uses sparing light to bring attention to the subject’s beautiful eyes. The low light is unusual for a child subject, however I think this lighting, the selective shadows and the child’s expression together evokes an idea of mischief, as if the child is hiding or eavesdropping where they shouldn’t be. The warmth of the light used softens what could have been a very jarring used of shadow, and the accompanying soft light around the head also helps to build this picture. The brightness of the eye captures the viewer and draws them into the child’s world.

 Image by Jessica Kobeissi - http://www.jessicakobeissi.com/dc1mdawh2g96pr9lvqs15rcak12l1p

Image by Jessica Kobeissi - http://www.jessicakobeissi.com/dc1mdawh2g96pr9lvqs15rcak12l1p

This image by Jessica Kobeissi uses backlighting to create a halo around the model’s head - giving the feel of summer, heat and brightness. The model’s face is filled in (presumably by a reflector or something similar) which means she is not obscured by shadow, and there is a interrupted feel in her pose and the sun behind her - it feels as if she’s turned around to quickly address the photographer before going back to the sunshine behind her.

 Image by Nadav Kander - http://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/4645/1/nadav-kander

Image by Nadav Kander - http://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/4645/1/nadav-kander

This portait of Barack Obama by Nadav Kander is incredibly striking. The depth in Obama’s face give the feeling of a deep connection between the subject and the viewer. The catch lights in his eyes stand out and sparkle, again connecting the viewer to him despite him looking away from the camera.