Category: Natural Light

Featured Image – Ballet in natural light

Presidents Scholar Carmen Martin Alonso poses for a photoshoot in the student union activity space for the Annual Fundraising Report.

Sometimes there is more light than you think.

This image was shot on a dark afternoon in January, yet I have turned the lights off making the room even gloomier, so why does the picture look bright and fresh?

Image © Thomas Angus / Imperial College London  [Click Image to expand]

The original image along with the others from this set are on the image library here.

I turned the lights off so that I could balance for the one colour of the ambient light through the windows, if I had left on the fluorescent lights the mood would be ruined by an orange colour cast on the skin of Carmen making the image look ‘muddy’, the wood is also bouncing back orange light, and we have enough orange already.
It reality however it is quite dark in the room, despite it being one of the rarer duel aspects at Imperial.

To compensate and make the image brighter than the gloomy room was in reality, I have used a very wide aperture on a prime lens, along with a high iso. This allows in much more light, but at the cost of a very shallow depth of field, and a tiny bit of grain in the image.

The lens I have used here, a 1.4 35mm prime has a very milky vignetted feel wide open, which is why I have chosen it, as that was the dreamy look that I wanted, and the width to show the environment and the window, a wider lens also gives you a slightly greater depth of field at a wide aperture, which I wanted here for context and to keep the texture of the beautiful floor.

Despite the low light this is a hand held shot as Carmen is moving around and I wanted to move with her. I have allowed enough shutter speed for that, probably slightly more than I needed at 200th of a second. (for most people a 35mm can be handheld down to around a 60th of a second or lower without blur if subject and camera are still)

The image appeared in the Annual Fundrasing Report here, Carmen also featured in the Imperial Heroes social media campaign and exhibition, and her hero image will be exhibited again at this year’s festival.

Do you know you have free access to Lynda courses with your college login?

Here is a video tutorial on low light photography which covers high iso, wide aperture and colour balance on Lynda.com.

Featured Image – High Above Queens Tower

Some images get more usage than others, and this set from a secret location high above the Campus  have certainly seen some action.

Image © Thomas Angus / Imperial College London  [Click Image to expand]

For a long time I had wanted to get into this location to get this series of shots, so once I had access I was up there like a ferret up a drainpipe. The resulting images have been used extensively, from your  login page on any machine on campus, the cover of the image library, Prospectus cover, Graduation Programme cover, the list goes on…

So what does it look like up here? (notice the absolutely safe tripod arrangement to hold the camera tantalisingly out of the window)

I’ve used a very small aperture for these images to give me a meaty depth of field for front to back focus, this does make for longer exposure times hence the tripod, the night shot for example is a 5 second exposure.

The small aperture also means the light coming through the aperture blades is very sharp causing visible stars in the lamps on the image, for example the red lights on the horizon and the lights on the roof in the foreground, the stars in your image will have more or less spikes depending on how many aperture blades there are in your lens. Using a shallower depth of field would mean these would slowly become more rounded as the blur or “bokeh” increases.

Image © Thomas Angus / Imperial College London  [Click Image to expand]

The Panorama shot that appears on the Image library homepage, shown below, which was also on display on a 2 metre print at the Heroes exhibition, is shot slightly differently. This is a stitched composite image of a series of photographs and the original is massive.

Image © Thomas Angus / Imperial College London  [Click Image to expand]

An image from the same location but in the summer as used on the College login pages.

Image © Thomas Angus / Imperial College London  [Click Image to expand]

These images have also turned up on our print collatoral.

The original image along with the others from this set are on the image library here.

How to shoot in the dark?

Do you know you have free access to Lynda courses with your college login?

Here is a short video exploring shooting at night and in low light on Lynda.com.