Usually I light my “studio” images by using one or two anglepoise lamps, but they’re not ideal. One problem is that they tend to give bright reflections off shiny objectives such as vases and the skin of some fruit and vegatables; the other is that they cast a fairly wide beam which can give more light on the backdrop then I really want. I usually use a black backdrop and I want it be as black as black can be.
I’ve improved the situation with spillover light to some degree by changing the orientation of the rectangular table that I place the subject of the photograph on. It’s about twice as long in one dimension as it is on the other, so I’ve turned the table round so that the short end is near the camera, instead of the long end. That means that the distance between an object placed near the table edge, and the backdrop near the wall at the far end of the table, is twice as long as it used to be; and hence any light falling on the wall is only a quarter as bright.
My next experiment is to use a torch to deliver some more directional light and avoid spillover and/or emphasise some parts of the subject. The torch has a much narrower beam than the anglepoise lamp, and I can narrow it further by taping a piece of cardboard tube cut from the inside of a roll of wrapping paper to the end of the torch.
The lighting method seemed to work as I wanted on the image of lillies above. I didn’t want any light on the vase or the foilage at the base of the flowers, and that’s what I got.
The teasel image below, however, was a bit of a disaster. After directing some light on the front of the teasel, I decided to add some from behind, with the idea of getting a backlit halo. However my aim was disastrously wrong so I got what looked like a plume of smoke instead. I suppose it has a certain novelty value.
Technical details: Both images taken on Fomapan 100 in an Intrepid 4×5 camera and developed in HC110. The aperture was f/64 and the exposure times ridiculously long due to Fomapan’s reciprocity characteristics.