Mobile Phone

Our second photo challenge was to recreate this photograph of a mobile phone.


Like the white cup, this two looks easy at first glance but was actually quite tricky.

I set up the phone my phone on a sheet of white perspex on a table with the camera directly in front and one single lamp above with a large softbox on it to give soft lighting.I was using my 50mm lens so, considering the depth of field, I positioned the tripod and phone so that I could focus about a third of the way into the phone, keeping the whole phone in focus. I metered the light, checked the histogram and finally decided to set my camera at ISO50 and 3 sec at f20, this would allow the flash to go off and the camera to remain open momentarily in order to capture more light and detail from the phone’s screen.

The original picture has a reflection of the softbox going across one corner to illustrate that the screen is reflective. I spent nearly an hour moving the light, up and down, this way and that trying to get that line and just could not manage it.

These are a few of my test shots on a contact sheet.


This is my final image next to the original.


Trent Bank

Here are a few photographs I took on a recent walk with friends along the bank of the river Trent, heading to where it meets the Ooze and the Humber.

White Cup

For the first of our photo challenges we were asked to reproduce this image of a white cup.


At first glance it looks like the simplest thing to do but it was the worst. I had seen online about how to do black line lighting and went into the studio the first time with a detailed plan and while I wasn’t far wrong in the set up I couldn’t my photos looking anything like the picture above.

It was two more attempts in the studio before I got anywhere near close.

In the end, I set the studio up as below, with a light table between two tables and a lamp underneath to light the background. I used a second lamp to light the cup from above.

I used the histogram on the camera to help me light the background perfectly. Eventually the camera was set to ISO50, f22 and 125th shutter speed.


I had tried standing the cup upright, filling it with paper and liquid but still could not get the right effect. Finally I cut the rim from the top of one cup and placed it inside another, then I laid the cup on the table and photographed it from above. I used a small piece of blu-tac to prop up the bottom of the cup and make it level.

To create the black lines along the side of the cup I initially used sheets of black card to reflect shadows back onto the cup. I then photographed the cup through a pinhole in a black card but this didn’t work either. Eventually, with the help of Anete we found that black card, folded and curved under slightly imitating the curve of the cup worked best and gave the best black line. We managed to get it almost right on one side of the cup but couldn’t get it quite right on the other.

This is a contact sheet of some of the white cup photos.

White Cup Contact Sheet

Here is the final image next to the original.

Fuel Station Typologies

I couldn’t decide what to do for the second part of my typologies assignment so I took some inspiration from Ed Ruscha and his book ’26 Gasoline Stations’. Ruscha photographed all the fuel stations along the route from his home to his mother’s home but as I was not planning to visit my mother or take any other long journey I chose to photograph all of the fuel stations in Scunthorpe.

I set myself some fairly simple rules about how I would approach this. I planned to walk to each fuel station and photograph them from across the road, straight on, keeping the roof parallel to my camera. This meant that I was standing on public land and legally able to take photographs without needing permission. I would use my Fuji MX1 camera with the lens initially on 16mm but may zoom in a little further depending on how wide the road was in front of the garage. I would not be using a flash.

The first time I went out it was an overcast day and the sky was a fairly flat white, but as I walked around the sky turned darker and eventually I had to return home when the rain came. The next time I went out I used the car and was able to photograph the fuel stations much quicker and keep more consistency in the look of the sky. I chose not to photograph the fuel station at Asda as this is situated away from the road and would have meant that I needed to stand on private land to take the shot.

I chose to leave the images in colour as it is important in differentiating the branding of one fuel station from another. In post production I enhanced the colour by applying a camera profile in Lightroom that mimics Fuji Velvia film, I also spent a little time adjusting the highlights and shadows as each image was initially quite dark under the fuel station roof.

This is my final image:

Fuel Stations

As with my chocolate typologies I layered the fuel station images together in Photoshop, used the transform tool to align them as I wanted and adjusted the opacity of each layer to create this final layered image.

Fuel Stations merged

Although I have no particular interest in fuel stations, I’m really happy with this final image and pleased that I kept it all in colour.

Solar Eclipse

We were given access to the roof of the college tower block in order to photograph today’s solar eclipse. We were very lucky as the cloud that was threatening a lot of the country began to thin around 8.30, and apart from a couple of cloudy moments, it remained clear for much of the morning.

I set my camera on a tripod and fitted two ND filters to the lens. Feeling that this was still a little bit too bright I slid a red filter into the holder too. I put the camera on Manual, set the ISO to 50, the aperture to f8 and played around with the shutter speed until I was happy with the results. I started off at around 1/1250 sec but experimented with different shutter speeds, getting slower as the moon crossed the sun. I shot in RAW trying to keep the images slightly under-exposed in order to accentuate any cloud detail in the images.

These are a few of the photos that I took this morning. The red filter has given them a dramatic feel that I quite like.

While I was on the roof of the college I couldn’t resist taking a few photos of the surrounding scenery. These are the views over Queens Gardens in Hull that the statue of William Wilberforce looks upon every day.

White Balance

I have been struggling to get the correct white balance on some of my photos and others have pointed out that some of them have a colour cast. I clearly haven’t developed an eye for seeing this yet.

It was suggested that to get more accurate colours in my photographs I should use a grey card when I am shooting. Photographic grey cards are simply cards painted a dark 18% matt grey. You either ask your subject to hold it or stand it in front of your subject for a test shot. Then when the photos are in Lightroom, in Develop mode, you can use the White Balance Selector Tool on the grey card to correctly adjust the white balance. Using Sync the settings can be easily copied across to all of the other photographs taken under the same lighting conditions.

To practise this, I took a small piece of grey card and took some test shots around the college. Below are my unedited results alongside my adjusted and sync’d images. There isn’t a lot of difference in some of the images, but there is in others and if I use this method I can rest assured that my white balance will be correct.

If a grey card isn’t available, the white balance selector tool can still be used by clicking it on a grey or neutral tone within the image and checking that the RGB readings at the bottom of the selector tool are equal (or roughly equal at least).

Other colour casts can be adjusted by remembering the acronym: Right Colour Gets Me BY. This reminds us that Red and Cyan are opposites, as are Green and Magenta and Blue and Yellow. So when there is too much red in a photographic image we need to add more cyan to balance it out, similarly with the other colours.

It is worth noting that the correct white balance isn’t always the most artistically appropriate. It is valid and right to make images warmer or cooler or make one of the colours stronger depending on their subject but that is an artistic decision that can be justified by the photographer.