Category Archives: 3 – How Space Changes With Light

How Space Changes With Light

This is an exercise that I really wish I had done in the summer rather than in the middle of winter. In the summer, I could have selected a day with strong sunlight and with the sun high in the sky and found a room where the light and shadows changed dramatically during the day.

For this exercise, I choose to photograph the room I use as an office when I work from home and when working on this course. The window in this room faces north west and in the winter the sun is too low to shine directly into the room and cast strong shadows. These pictures were taken one day after the shortest day, a day which was forecast to be largely clear and sunny with some thin patchy cloud. I mounted my camera on a tripod and set it up to take a picture every twenty minutes. To enable the colours in the pictures to reflect the changing colour of the light I set a manual white balance. I selected the cloudy white balance setting this is obviously not strictly correct but I felt that it was the best of the standard settings given the subject matter.

The sequence of pictures started at 8:05am and finishes at 2:25pm (the times on the photographs below are an hour out, I need to update the time set in my camera). A contact sheet showing the twenty picture I took is shown below, a higher resolution version of this sheet is available here.


The first picture is taken just after sunrise, the room was still quite dark and the camera’s matrix metering has exposed for the view outside and made the scene much brighter than was really the case. Through the sequence of pictures, I left the camera set to automatic exposure in the hope that I would get a sequence where the interior had a similar level of brightness and this seems to have worked reasonable well. I did the minimum of post processing of these picture, in the end just setting up a preset in Lightroom to reduce the highlights by the same amount in each picture to get some detail in the scene through the window.

The most obvious change in the lighting through this sequence is the colour, in the early pictures the light is very blue due to this side of the house being totally in shade. In the final pictures the light colour is much warmer particularly in the last picture. The warming of the light during the day is most visible on the white ceiling in the room which starts off very blue and ends up quite yellow. You can also see the area of blue in the ceiling reducing as it gets later in the day.

When looking closely at the sequence the seventeenth image, third from the end, looks like it is slightly out of sequence because the light looks colder than the previous two or three pictures, my assumption is that there was more cloud when this was taken.

In the notes, it suggests taking multiple pictures at each time but given the lighting in this room at the time of year it was taken I didn’t feel that there was much to be gained from this. Perhaps I just choose the wrong room but I don’t really think any other room in the house would have been a better subject.

Looking closely at specific areas of the image it is possible to see changes in highlights and shadows as the lighting changes through the day. For example, the crops below show a growing highlight of the right-hand side of the right-hand monitor. The shadow of the power block on the monitor screen also get more pronounced as the day goes on. I would like to think that the shadow in the folds of the curtain also get more pronounced but I think this is more something that I want to see rather than something that is real.