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Reed diffuser (mono)

By PhotoLinda
An experiment with lighting. Decided to try out negative space too, while I was as it.

This was my first time trying out negative space. And the lighting is improvised (just a desk lamp with a bright bulb fitted and some translucent paper to diffuse). Not sure if it's too bright, in the wrong place or what.

Any feedback on either of those two aspects much appreciated. Smile



Tags: Still life Monochrome Black and white Simple Negative space

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mrswoolybill Plus
14 3.0k 2461 United Kingdom
1 Sep 2018 5:12PM
I like it, and well done for experimenting with composition, for thinking outside the box. It works for me, it has mystery, and a sort of sense of expectation. And it looks beyond the obvious.

I have a few suggestions to make, and I've uploaded a modification really yo illustrate them.

First, it would be interesting to see the colour file - you can upload it as a modification. How did you convert to b&w? Remember that a good colour image does not convert automatically to perfect b&w, you need to check the light again. Here if you look at the histogram, the image is quite tonally limited, it lacks real blacks and whites - and they are what b&w needs! So I made a Levels adjustment moving the outer sliders in a bit, and also used the dodge tool very gently on highlights within the jar.

Watch light carefully, that blown highlight on the glass is a bit of a distraction, particularly when you increase contrast. I think perhaps your light source was too close for the improvised diffusion? I've cloned over it fairly crudely.

Also, if doing this with water in the jar, it's a good idea to wipe away condensation at the top.

I've cropped on the right side, to get rid of the table corner and dark triangle bottom right. Without those I think there's more of a sense of space reaching out to infinity.

Another thing to watch out for - the depth of field in front of the point where you focus is only half of what you get behind. That's why that ribbon loop at the top is very soft. Angling it nearer to parallel with the camera would have helped I think.

And I added a simple frame, to contain the ideas...

Those are just suggestions, it's a strong image in its own right. By the way, I've noticed that you have visited Magpie Mine, a place that I know well. I shall go and check out those images.

banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4270 Canada
1 Sep 2018 5:19PM
Its good to experiment. Im not sure if the overall intent here was to diffuse the light from a table lamp, or produce an image that has a diffused light appearance, - and I will add a mod showing an example of that.

The diffusion is working to some extent, however more diffusion to prevent the bright sop, or lower light power can work better; the point of diffusion is to spread the light to prevent a singe bright identifiable light source.

As an image, losing some of the empty space, - not all of it, - mainly to remove the very bright spot can give you an better image. Im not sure where your focal point was, but placing it on that vase would be best.

Ive loaded two mods, a colour,with the yellow reduced a lot, and a momo. the mono has a diffusion filter applied in Photoshop. If you use photoshop, you should find one in the filters menu.

Keep on experimenting.


Willie and Moira beat me to it!
1 Sep 2018 5:40PM
Thanks Moira and Willie,

So many things to think about all at once!!! Some I did consider and attempt to adjust, others I didn't. It's all in the eye/fine-tuning. Smile Think I need to work on the lamp!!!

Your feedback is very helpful and much appreciated. And thanks for the mods - it always helps to be able to see what you mean.

Hope you both have a great weekend.

dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1879 England
1 Sep 2018 6:14PM
While I'm a great fan of desk lights for portraits and nudes, I'm less sure for shiny objects... Window light, or a surrogate, might work best...

Maybe aim the desk lamp at a bright white sheet of paper or card, to get a big, rectangular highlight?

I particularly like Moira's mod - the crop reduces the negative space a bit, so it doesn't steal the picture: and hte frame works beautifully with the tight crop o nthe bottle to contain the image.

I love how you're experimenting and trying stuff - and the negative space and desk lamp are compatible for an experiment, so it's not necessarily true that you should only try one idea at a time!

Keep on going...
mrswoolybill Plus
14 3.0k 2461 United Kingdom
1 Sep 2018 6:26PM
Thanks for your feedback, this Gallery works best when we have a dialogue!

The simpler a subject, the more important that attention to detail becomes.

Just one further point that I forgot first time around - this really is a subject for natural window light! Gentler, more even... And you can use a fine net curtain or translucent blind as a diffuser.
1 Sep 2018 7:31PM

Quote: this really is a subject for natural window light! Gentler, more even...

I agree wholeheartedly. And that's what I've been using until now. But the problem I have is that the only usable space I have for these kind of shots is the dining table in the kitchen/diner. Which is right next to French doors on the south side of the house. And the kitchen has windows or doors that let in light on all three other sides. Compounding the problem, we have high gloss kitchen doors (not my choice!)

So all in all, too much light bouncing around in all directions and too many ugly reflections. Whilst the light itself is fine for many shots (I tend not to get any obvious shadows, which I like), the reflections just make it impossible to get clean shots of anything with a reflective surface. Hence the experiment with the light.Smile

I do have a study with a north facing window. Perhaps I should consider setting up a table in there instead?
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1879 England
2 Sep 2018 7:14AM
Victorian photographers always set up their studios as conservatories on the north side of buildings - so that's a brilliant idea!

The perfect place for soft and gentle natural light.

And, at some point, if you want to develop your photography with artificial light as a source, a softbox in front of the light source...
mrswoolybill Plus
14 3.0k 2461 United Kingdom
2 Sep 2018 7:56AM
John got here ahead of me, north-facing is ideal! Start experimenting...
2 Sep 2018 8:05AM
Thanks to all. Now I just need to sort out my study. 😞
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1879 England
2 Sep 2018 8:29AM
My wife keeps telling me that tidying is always good...
3 Sep 2018 11:17PM
Thank you for taking the time and trouble to comment on my photo Paul.
Clearly my composition wasn't to your taste or style on this occasion. That's fine - maybe I'm targeting a different audience with this one? Wouldn't the world be a dull place indeed if we all liked the same things? ☺
I'm glad to hear you've had 60 happy and seemingly successful years in the profession - I wish you many more.
But just like you would have done when you were starting out (perhaps still do) I'm currently experimenting with new, modern styles to find my own style and preferences as well as develop my technical knowledge and ability.
Whilst on this occasion, as you acknowledge, you didn't feel particularly able to help develop that style further, I did receive lots of helpful feedback from other members.
In the spirit of this site, and just so you're aware of the technique in case you want to try it out yourself, negative space is the deliberate, conscious compositional technique of using empty space in a shot. You may know it by another name, of course? It's a minimalist approach to photography. But, like everything, not to everyone's taste.
Happy shooting,
Linda ☺
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1879 England
4 Sep 2018 7:11AM
I'm a little confused by this comment, Linda - it looks as if it's a response to a comment that I can't see above (though I think I can owrk out who made it, and roughly what it might have said, in some ways).

I'm intrigued as to where it is, or was...

To pick up o nthe most important part of your comment, yes: we all still experiment! Sometimes it's with different types of photography, or different equipment: at others, it's with a different approach to the work, as you have here.

Negative space definitely doesn't appeal to everyone - I have good friends on this site who follow the maxim of 'filling the frame', and they aren't drawm to my work when I put the subject in a tiny part of the frame: occasionally, I find their subject-orientated compositions a little overpowering!

I am currently playing with old cameras - not, to be fair, anything old, but cameras like various ones that I used to use - or, in the near future (I hope) with the camera that I never managed to own...
4 Sep 2018 6:03PM
Hi Dudler,
Apologies for the confusion. My last comment was a response to a comment that appeared on my buzz feed but for some strange reason not with the photo (?!) I can quote it if you like so you can see?
But you've clearly picked up on the key points.
I'm looking forward to trying out an oldish film camera that I've been given. But lots of practice in digital before I start buying and processing film!
Hope you're getting some good shots with yours!

dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1879 England
4 Sep 2018 10:14PM
Thanks, Linda!

Film is fun - don't hesitate to ask if you need help, or want reassurance...


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