Tuesday, April 3, 2007

On Lighting

When I was moving into my new shop, I thought that I had hit the jackpot where light was concerned. Imagine after four years in a dark basement having ten windows and southern exposure. What I didn't realize is how much I'd learned about using light to my advantage in my darkened lair.
As I worked in such a light starved environment, I had to stage new lighting for any task that I wanted to see clearly. To do so, I took a hint from my days in photo school and set up a raking light. A raking light is merely a light that shines across a surface and reveals the surface quality and shape. The bottom photo is the raking light. It obviously highlights the details better than a light shining flat on the surface. The way that I like to work is dependent upon my eyes guiding my hands, clear visual information is vital to achieving good results. Taking the time to set up a raking light makes all the difference. I have a flexible light (thank you John) that I have mounted on my workbench at all times.
As a side note, raking light is a powerful a tool for photographing your work. Depending on what you are trying to depict, nothing describes 3-D space like a raking light. Experimentation is the key, and an easily movable light is helpful.

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