The assignment brief required us to create a scene, which would be photographed twice using different lighting for each image. The challenge was to change the mood, and therefore, meaning conveyed purely with the use of lighting.

The image I chose to construct was that of a large knife on a kitchen table with a few spots of water on the blade – an image, which would offer vastly differing narratives dependent on the lighting used. Below you can see the first image – the well-lit, clean, commercial product shot.

I lit this using two diffused flashes with make-shift softboxes, one beneath camera and the other behind and to the right of the subject. You can see better how this was set-up in the diagram below.


As I have already mentioned, I feel that the result achieved is one akin to a typical still-life / product / stock image. The lighting is even and soft, giving pleasing shadows and good focus to the subject.

In its second form, the feel of the image is altered entirely. Instantly, the red colour and sinister lighting conveys a sense of evil, and in this particular image, murder.

This image was lit using one flash with a red gel and a long semi-opaque snoot to focus the light around the knife, whilst still allowing some ambient fill light.


By lighting the image in this way, the atmosphere shifts to convey a dark, sinister mood. Low-key lighting and long shadows (techniques we often see used in horror films) cast by the blade of the knife create a look we associate with wicked and evil circumstances, and this changes the tone of the scene entirely.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.