The Art And Science Of Lighting For Photography – Tony McMaster, LRPS

On Wednesday 27th November 2019, Dunchurch Photographic Society was treated to an in-depth presentation by one of its members, namely Tony McMaster. The evening was all about demonstrating the art and science of lighting for photography and showing how different lighting media can have an effect on the image captured. 

In the first half of the evening, Tony introduced members to the equipment to be used. This included lighting (duh!), a camera mounted on a tripod, a computer/monitor set up that was ‘tethered’ to the camera for image display with a link to a projector for the audience to see and, finally, a wonderful mannequin model that would form the subject of the evening’s photography. 

Using one static mannequin for the duration of the evening meant that a consistent base of photographic images taken with different lighting setups could be more easily compared. 

It became abundantly clear that Tony is a subject expert in the field of lighting for photography, providing the audience with a very well-prepared presentation which was clear in structure and purpose, with an equally well put together sequence of practical demonstrations of technique. 

The first half saw Tony give an overview of lighting and how camera lenses make an important element to a photograph being captured. The key element here being ‘aperture’ and the various ‘stops’ that lenses have that all influence how a photograph is captured in the camera. The audience were easily able to see the impact of ‘aperture’ and ‘depth of field’ as the ‘F-stop’ on the lens being used was taken through its range. 

The premise being that, the higher the F-stop setting, the sharper the whole image would be. The trade off being the more light required to adequately capture the image (at least I think that is correct!). 

Tony also demonstrated the inverse square rule allowing the audience to see how each light being used, when placed at different distances from the subject, could result in virtually an identical image of the subject being captured with careful balance of power for the light concerned, the F-stop and the shutter speed. Tony had marked on the floor key distances from the subject to give a pretty accurate and consistent demonstration of the inverse square rule. 

After the customary tea break (thanks to Liz and Adrian), Tony continued his presentation. In the second half, he introduced the audience to more effects that can be used to control lighting, specifically when there is a need to spread the beam of light from its source, and the impact of focussing the light more tightly. Several techniques were demonstrated, including the use of a ‘soft box’ to help diffuse the light being generated by the modelling light when in use, or the flash. 

Tony’s overall presentation was quite interactive with regular pauses for questions and answers along with further demonstrations using the various lights. The large display on the screen enabled the audience to witness the images being captured and the variances in them as the lighting sources were changed. 

It was a very interesting presentation. The demonstration of the techniques and science being discussed using real equipment and within a ‘live workshop’ environment really did help the audience to understand the subject more readily. I took the accompanying photographs of the evening using an iPhone 6. 

Well done Tony! The preparation and work involved in putting your presentation together should not be underestimated. We look forward to the follow up session at the Barby Moorings studio in the New Year. Fantastic stuff! 

Report compiled by David J. Bray (Chairman).