light & lighting: the egg (module 2)

A photography experiment for understanding light, the egg, is a great way for beginners like us to understand how light direction and quality shapes the image we are creating.

In this two-part exercise, we used an egg and a movable light source (here I just used my desk lamp) to examine the movement and depth of shadow, contrast, and how this changes an image.

My first set of images are below. These are taken with only the light as the light source in the room, with no diffuser or post-production.

While I have worked with studio lighting briefly in the past, it is fascinating to really see how the light shapes the shadow. It is also a good practice of the logistics of having a non-natural light source and how to keep it out of shot while ensuring it stays in the right place for the lighting you are trying to achieve!

Next, we added a diffuser into the mix. Now, if you’ve never used a diffuser before (not sure why you’d be reading this, but hey) - it’s not a small object. More than anything, this part of the task was an exercise in ingenuity and flexibility. Taking a shot, holding a diffuser and holding the light source was…not easy. But hey, it’s all good practise!

Now, we can see the hard light from the previous group has been softened, with more gradual, softer shadows. The source of the light was already quite close in the first set, meaning that the light was made even bigger by adding a diffuser, and distributed more evenly around the egg, softening the shadows and spreading the light over the surface. As part of the trade-off, the images become darker, however this can be compensated for by adjusting the exposure triangle (ISO, shutter and aperture) to produce a lighter result. Ultimately, we see in the second set of images that we have a softer, more “natural” look to this light and the subject, however this isn’t necessarily “better” depending on what we are hoping to convey with the image/s.

This was a very interesting module, with lots of interesting resources. The difference between soft light and diffused light was something I was not previous aware of. It was also interesting to understand what makes up all of the different parts of light rather than just thinking of it as a singular influence. I think this will make me stop and think more about light when I take photos from here on, especially after seeing what a difference it can make in the previous module.