Exercise 4.2 Constructed imagery

29th May 2020

For this exercise we were looking at the role of lines, angles, shapes, planes, colour and the role of lighting in still life.

We were asked to experiment with a number of different constructed images – still life – over a period of time using different backgrounds, objects and lighting so that we created different self-contained, unique environments.

The contact sheets for this exercise can be found here.

Constructed imagery one

I began with a ‘light’ constructed image using only the objects around my desk, two sheets of heavy watercolour paper and the overhead daylight bulb light.

I was already working on some coloured card sculptures for some stop motion lego work I was creating with my daughter, so I used these within the shots as their bright colours, lines, angles, shapes and planes just ticked the boxes for me and are very eye catching.

The final image was just created literally by picking up things that were on my working desk with me (it is constructed of two large desks at an angle) and placing them down one by one. I did however think of the placements of each item so that there were some specific lines for our eyes to follow which can be seen in the diagram below.

lines showing direction that eyes travel

Unfortunately when uploading the work into Photoshop I noticed that areas of the images were out of focus, specifically the background. I had not thought about my F stop setting enough within the exposure triangle and had set it to allow as much light in as possible. At least I know where I had went wrong and can alter this for my next constructed image shot.

background out of focus

I had also tried to put different textures in such as plastics, glass, material, card and shiny card.

For my next shoot I will still keep to items around my desk because there is enough to make a contrasting selection, as well as changing the background and light source.

Constructed imagery two

For this shoot I decided to keep to using objects that are found around my desk but to change the background, time of day and light source. I also decided to slightly alter the camera angle so that it was higher and looking down at the objects so that the viewer gains a different perspective.

For the background I used black velvet material which is a different texture to the paper used previously as is the black to the white. I also chose to shoot this time during the night and to shoot in the darkness using a phone torch as my light source. However, for this still life I decided to use my silver reflector to bounce some harsh light back into the frame of the objects.

I had not used my reflectors until this exercise, so this was a new experience for me. I bought the set of reflectors when my tutor had picked up on some of my details lost in shadows of other images completed for this course.

Instead of beginning with a piece of card as my anchor point I used a book that I had just bought, Nissan N. Perez (2003), REVELATIONS Representations Of Christ In Photography. London, Merrell Publishers Ltd.

This shoot was far more involved than the first. If we look at the above images we can see that my first decision for the settings of the exposure triangle, although not too bad, did need altering. I stood a Jesus sculpture that I am making onto the book and altered my shutter speed to allow more light to enter the camera. I was happy with my adjustment of the setting after three trials, the image can be seen on the right.

Once I had decided on my final exposure triangle settings, I began to choose larger objects for the still life composition and then I altered the distance and direction of the torch light. I also used a silver reflector in a couple of shots to bounce the light into darker areas of the still life, areas which I wanted to lighten.

Shot 12
Shot 15

I was very interested to note that with the different directions of the light source I gained various strengths of light which either cast more shadows across the still life and darkened the overall composition or acted the opposite and lightened the composition. These differences can be seen in the images above.

I chose the silver reflector because it bounces the most light into areas and is also harsher. You can see the difference the reflector makes in the image examples below.

I have to be honest I was actually surprised on how much light changes with the use of a reflector. I know this fact, I have read about reflectors and seen how they are used and how they change the light within photographs but it wasn’t until I used the reflector, had a play around with it and then saw the images on the computer that it had actually clicked what it really means to use them.

It is quite exciting to use a new technique and actually see the difference first hand, rather than just ‘know’ about the differences through reading about reflectors or watching others use them. I am now going to research their uses more and how the different colours work and trial them out. I am quite interested now!!


The mishaps I have had are yet again silly ones. I had forgotten to alter the WB again and the composition began with cutting off the toe end of the shoe. I did however notice the composition error and moved the camera accordingly.

That which I have really learnt is connected with lighting and the technical use of reflectors. I am very keen and not ‘scared’ to use these now. I suffer from something called ‘Avoidance Tactics’ which is where I will not do something through an irrational fear. This is not always permanent and can come and go regularly depending on my anxiety levels at the time. For instance when I am anxious about my weight I have an avoidance tactic of telling myself I have a phobia of food and then I cannot physically open the fridge and I panic and just stand in front of it. Another avoidance technique is to tell myself that I am scared to go outside and then I avoid doors as I cannot open them, this means I do not have to face the real world and the fact that I might run into a ‘certain’ person that I am in hiding from.

This tactic also works when I want to learn something new or have bought a new piece of technology and I am scared of failure or not knowing what I am doing. I literally cannot open the box or bag that the ‘things’ are stored in and then become stressed and depressed at myself. It is a cycle and not a good one.

So this is a big plus for me. I now have learnt that the reflectors are not scary and I am now on a new journey with them in my photographic learning.

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