Evening television is part of many people’s daily routine and for most the remote control is a convenience, but for some older people it is essential.
For this photo I wanted to show that an everyday object, which is a convenience and taken for granted by most of us, is essential for people with mobility problems.
I had always had this image down as one of the photos for this set. This is one of the very few images in the series that has hardly changed from the original conception to the final photograph.
I wanted to show the remote control being held and pointed at the television, with the remote and hand holding it being in focus and the television beyond out of focus.
I arranged a chair in position so that I could take the photo from behind the person holding the remote, looking down their arm towards the TV. This showed the remote in use, but I also needed to indicate its importance. I placed a walking stick next to the TV to introduce the concept of someone who had difficulty walking.
I then tried to work out the best lighting for the shot. I wondered if it would be possible to use available light so I tried metering the scene with my camera. One issue was that I needed a fairly high shutter speed otherwise any slight movement of the hand holding the remote would cause blurring. I also wanted to set a relatively narrow aperture to get a reasonable depth of field on the hand and remote. Given these constraints I found that it was not feasible to use available light as, even with the ISO set to 3200, there was insufficient light to set the shutter speed and aperture that I wanted.
I experimented with my flashgun, setting the camera to the shutter speed and aperture that I wanted and varying the power of the flash to give the correct exposure. Firstly I tried lighting the hand and remote directly with the flash to the right hand side of the camera at 90degrees, but found that this gave quite a harsh effect with little illumination on the TV.
Direct lighting from the other side did not work either as it left the remote in shadow and barely visible.
I found the best results came from placing the flash to the side of the arm but with the light bounced off the ceiling.
This gave the correct exposure to the hand and remote but also made sure that the TV and walking stick were visible in the background.
The image is not quite as I originally envisaged in that the television screen is not as bright as I thought it would be. However I could not work out a way of making it any brighter, extra light on the TV would not make the screen image any brighter. I moved the person closer to the TV and this helped a little. But the only way round the problem I could think of was to increase the exposure using a wider aperture or slower shutter speed, but I have just described the reasons why I did not want to do this. In the end I used the best compromise I could think of to show an image on the TV screen.
My intention with this photo was to suggest;
- For some people everyday objects, taken for granted by most people, are a necessity
I used my 18-55mm zoom lens as I was taking the photo from behind the person and changed my position a few times to get the best view along the arm and towards the TV. This allowed me to vary the focal length and get the best composition for the shot.
I tried to use available light but it was not possible, besides I did want more light on the hand and remote compared to the TV in the background.
Lens: VR 18-55 F/3.5-5.6G
Focal Length: 38mm
Shutter Speed: 1/125s
Exposure Mode: Manual
The image has been cropped to have the TV and walking stick form the frame on the top and sides of the image.
How could this image be improved?
This is an occasion where I found getting the correct exposure to be a little tricky, ideally I would like the TV screen to be brighter, but could not work out how to achieve this.
What have I learned from taking this photograph?
I have learned how it can be easy to come up with a concept for a photo, but then very difficult to work out a way of achieving that. This photo was about compromises.