You are Here Profotos > Education > Professional Photography Magazine > Pro Article Professional Photography Magazine

1. Software Review - Alien Skin's Exposure

Get the Pro Guide!

Enter your email address:

Photography Books
Up to 50% off!

Click here to visit our photo bookstore where you can order photography books.

Colored Spots
by Robert A F van de Voort

My first stock shot request in 2003 was for a photograph of cow dung in a paddock. This will just illustrate the fact that in photography you can expect almost everything. Unfortunately the weather was atrocious, and all the deposits were washed out and so the deadline passed.

This request highlights the fact that in photography you can almost expect anything to happen. Of course as a photographer you have to use techniques to come up with a photograph that looks a little bit better and different compared to the person who is not a professional photographer. I have in mind a certain approach for this shot that will lift it above the realm of a "shit shot". We will wait for some drier weather and a good cows meal. Talking about techniques, what about changing the shape of your aperture, or diaphragm, to assist you compositional / designing efforts?

You have probably already noticed when you take night shots off streetlights that the appearance of the actual light source changes on film depending on the aperture you have used to take that photograph. A wide-open aperture of a streetlight at night will provide a round impression of the light itself, probably slightly diffused towards the outer edges. If you have taken the same photograph at an aperture of F8, or F11, or F16, you will notice, as the aperture progressively gets smaller the actual light source will be depicted more as a star shaped object. Not all apertures are created equal and depending on the construction of your aperture you will get different "star" shaped images of the actual light source.

This notion set me on the track of constructing aperture shapes to place behind my lens in the view camera. While I would shoot at a wide-open aperture, using the total glass surface of the lens, I would control the amount of light with my own designed shaped aperture.

My light meter that measures the light on the film plane inside the camera will give me the shutter speed to take photograph with. I suggest that if you don't use it inside your view camera place it in front of your medium format camera, or your 35 SLR camera will do too.

These shaped apertures that you can make yourself will illustrate their effect best when you use it in photography on highly reflective surfaces, like glass for example. In those cases you will see a reproduction of your shaped aperture reflected on the highly reflective surfaces of the glass. Of course if you are very experimental you may find different effects possible, nothing beats thinking outside the square. Of course this idea is not new, I do not think anything in photography is new, only the way we do it might be new... oh how hard it is to be innovative...

Like the Imagon lens is a specialist portrait lens. As an aperture it uses a disk, you can choose between one of five disks. Each disk consists of concentric rings of holes of various sizes or numbers. I think this lens was around in the late 1800's. See illustration sample on far right. So what is new pussycats? (Sorry - Tom Jones played in the studio...)

Apertures are normally used to increase the depth of field; here is another way of playing with the apertures without using (smaller) apertures.

When you want to extend the depth of field with your view camera this technique is something so simple and effective if the set-up allows it... imagine you've got a setup compromising of a foreground, middle ground, and background. The whole setup is too big, or better said too deep, to get it all-sharp with your desired aperture opening. If you can light the foreground and possibly the middle ground with your lights, excluding the background, focus on the middle ground and use your chosen aperture. This will provide you with a sharp image of your lit area.

Make your first exposure, this will only show foreground and middle ground. Now refocus, focus on the middle of your background. Place your lights only on the background only and exclude any lights only area that you have already photographed on your first exposure. Make your second exposure on the same transparency of the background.

This method has a problem. When you refocus on the background the image scale changes. The foreground might appear slightly blurred against the background. You cannot predict exactly how this will look on your final transparency, however the effect is not that destructive. In some cases this slight blur a can look very natural and create even more feeling of depth. You have to experiment with this technique and find out with what focal length lens and type of setup this technique will work best. Normally I like to change any so-called negative aspects, like the effect described above, into something positive. Perhaps with some creative backlighting and color lights you may be able to turn this technique into more than just the extension of depth of field. I am interested to see any images created this way, anyway have fun with your view camera. You can e-mail me at

When I mentioned color lights, you can have some fun with two spot lights, one with a blue, and one with a red gel over it. When you photograph a product, place one blue spot light on the left of the product, and one red on the opposite side.

The red spot light illuminates the product in a red from the right and leaves a black shadow on the left-hand side of the product.
The blue spot light on the left can be turned on the product, and both colours, the red and blue will mix on top of the product, creating a magenta color.

The black shadow that was created by the red spot lights only will be blue, and the shadow created by the the blue spot light on the right-hand side of the product will be red. Nothing new you may say, as I said before there is nothing new in photography, only the way we apply what we know.

Perhaps any of the above ideas could be useful to you. Try to go one step further, experiment?

Made this year shape up for you in a playful concoction of light and dark shapes, may it be colourful, emotional and rewarding. Any direct feedback to

Viewing you next time, cheers

Robert A F van de Voort, 2003

Robert van de VoortRobert van de Voort is a professional photographer and writer, with his headquarters located on the North Island of New Zealand. Robert's professional photographic career spans the course of over 20 years, with work in stock, advertising, studio, digital photography and much more! You can learn more about Robert and see examples of his stunning work by visiting his website at

Questions, Comments? Look here: The help section
Broken link(s)? Email us at:
Testimonials. Visitor/Member Comments: News about us!

Select "Photography" under
Program of Study to see
Photo Schools

Our Award Winning Photo Galleries

The Profotos Member Photographer Galleries
The Member Galleries at have won many awards and accolades from around the world. Click here to apply for your own gallery.

Check out the galleries of our member photographers and experience an interactive online photography exhibit like no other!

The Virtual Photography Reference Desk
> Schools/Tours
> Manufacturers
> Profotos Magazine
> Processing Labs
> Magazines
> Digital Equip.
> Stock Agencies
> Photo Glossary
> Organizations
> Technical Charts
> Photo Masters
> Photo Timeline

Free Professional Photography Memberships

> Apply Today!
> The Galleries
> Member List
> Testimonials
> Member FAQ's

Click the button below for help!

You are Here Profotos > Education > Professional Photography Magazine > Pro Article
 Apply for a Gallery
 Member Galleries
 Featured Gallery
 Larry's Galleries
 Gallery Selection
 Profotos Magazine
 Photograhy Glossary
 The Reference Desk
 Search Engine
 Photo Masters
 Become a Member
 Member Selection
 Benefits Summary
 List of Members
 Refer Others
 Photographer List
 Pro WebRing
 Monthly Newsletter
 Link to Us
 Custom Site Design
 Profotos Store
 Advertise With Us
 Online Auctions
 The Bookstore
 Legal Information
 Who We Are
 Company History
 Contact Profotos
 The FAQ's
 Copyright Info.
Copyright ©1999-2011
(an independently owned company). All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and Safety Information are applicable to this site.

Our Address:, 681 Inverness Drive, Fairborn, OH 45324 USA
Contact us via telephone: 937-660-0845