Assignment 2** Painting with Light

The Ravens Retreat

02nd December 2019

This assignment is a trial and error process in taking a photograph of a person. This can be a hard lesson for students who don’t see the many unsuccessful attempts that are behind the successful picture, the photos that almost expressed what the photographer had in mind, where the light. was almost right, the subject almost in the right position, the timing just a bit off etc. Re-working, re-photographing and re-making are vital lessons in your photographic education, so make them working habits.


Thanks to a friend of mine who lives in an amazing home called The Ravens Retreat, Great Yarmouth, I have completed this assignment. I have never had so much fun shooting portraits as I have this time around and to top it all, her house is so exciting, I had the most stimulating time ever trying to find the perfect background. Indeed I will back at the Ravens Retreat again to shoot more photographs at any chance I can!

My image have been separated into three different batches, the first batch is for this Assignment, the second smaller batch I will be adding to Exercise 2.7 and lastly the third batch to my research post, ‘Types of light.’

Below are my contact sheets for the shot, from here I was able to see which images could be adjusted to make clearer, brighter and more interesting images. I found quite a lot of adjustment needed for a few as painting with light did seem to come out quite dark this time around.

At first glance the images in the contact sheet above look dark. It isn’t until you view the images larger that the ghostly light painting images can be seen and with further adjustment in Photoshop Levels they become very obvious to the eye.

The contact sheets below are the beginnings of my adjustment work. I never complete them in one sitting but always go back to the work with fresh eyes. Some will stay as they are as completed images, others may have more adjustments made to them and others I will go back to the beginning as I am unhappy with the work I have done on them, or if I might actually take them into another, hopefully, better direction.

When processing the images I payed particular interest to specific parts of the picture. Some had external light sources added for example – warm orange light from a slightly open door so that it juxtaposed with the cold white light of the torch. I also looked at any objects surrounding my subject which could be painted in and lastly, the use of a high ISO. An example of using the ISO to my creative benefit was emphasising the grain and increasing the contrast so that it gives the portrait and its’ surroundings a very harsh black and white feel, this can be seen in the last image.

Using the background objects within The Ravens Retreat added to the overall texture to images as the books for example having hard straight lines and corners are the opposite to the soft rounded edges of the feathers.

Below are my chosen completed shots. The fifth image has been left quite dark and moody on purpose. I wanted the portrait to look lost in the darkness with some of the background objects which I had specifically chosen to highlight with the torch. The main object that I wanted to capture was the skull to give that curious Victorian feel to the image.

Images 6-9 are variations of the same shot. I adjusted them by painting out the door light and by converting them into black and white, the completed images attracts different peoples eyes and viewpoints. I love black and white images but my friend who stars in these photographs likes the coloured ones, so I have presented them both for people to see the difference within the two.

My personal favourite images are numbers 6 and 7. I love the abstract shape that the door light has created and in the colour version the warm glow that it gives. If I had to choose between the two, because of my love for black and white photography, I can say I am attracted to image number 7 the most.

The types of adjustments made to the images included:

  • Cropping
  • Levels adjustments
  • Contrast
  • Brightness
  • Dodging
  • Burning
  • Black and White conversion
  • Colour balance (for tinting images)

I would have loved to taken more torch shots for this assignment but the amount of time taken to produce such a few was considerable, mind you there were quite a lot of squeaks of excitement from me as I continuously found things in the background that was attracting my attention and then I would go off on an unfocused and over stimulated background hunt. I also spent the first part of the session taking photographs of my friends portrait within different light sources, as well as object still life images to add to the light exercises.

If I am lucky enough to repeat this shoot, I would probably experiment further with my painting light times and increase the amount of time that I paint with the torch. I feel the images were quite dark this time round compared to my self-portrait practices. I hadn’t also taken into account that when I was working on the self-portraits, I was literally sitting on top of the camera, however when working with my sitter I was at a greater distance away from her. This meant the light source was diffused more due to the added distance.

There is so much more I would have loved to have done with this assignment. I did take a couple of shots in The Alice in Wonderland room in which I was staying because I couldn’t sleep because I was over stimulated with the contents of the bedroom. This home is such a dream, so much to see and I would love to light paint their many, many items of curiosity, cult TV, props and posters and everything.

Below are a couple of shots from The Alice room where I painted with light from the bed, camera balancing on my knees and torch at the ready.

I haven’t finished here either. I will be completing a part three to Assignment two Painting with Light which is some cross-app images where I have transferred my shots from Photoshop into my iPad to be adjusted more in some dedicated photographic image software.


  1. These are so atmospheric, I especially like the black and white shots. The last photo of your chosen set is my favourite as it looks like it could be a scene from a film telling a story.


  2. Thank you for your comment. The house that I was shooting in and my friend are so inspirational – they help make the images what they are! But yes, I agree, definitely has a film quality to it. I am hoping to complete a narrative series here it could go in so many exciting directions.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s