9 Bed Time

Even going to bed at night can prove difficult for those people that have problems climbing stairs. A stairlift can be the answer, but it can be expensive and not everyone can afford one.


For this final image I had the idea of photographing the stairlift to show how going to bed can need assistance.

When considering the best way to produce the image I thought back to some of the very first exercises in this course where I took photos of moving objects at different shutter speeds to convey a sense of movement. I thought that it would be a good technique to use to show the stairlift in use. It would convey a sense of movement adding interest to a photo that, were I to use a fast shutter speed, would be very static.

I found the exposure difficult for this image as the lighting levels varied considerably in different parts of the scene. There was a window on the landing at the top of the stairs so light was shining through making that area the brightest part of the scene. The foot of the stairs was much darker whereas the hallway to the right was lit to a level approximately half way between the two extremes.

I restricted the amount of light at the top of the stairs by drawing the curtains there, but there was still quite a difference in lighting levels between the top and bottom of the stairs.

I thought that it might be best to wait until it was dark and then photograph the scene under the fluorescent house lights which would give a much more even illumination to the whole scene. I was taken, however, with the idea of the bright light at the top of the stairs and the symbolism this provided of the person travelling up towards the light. This felt particularly apt for the final photo of the series. I decided to carry on taking the photos in daylight and to expose for the light at the bottom of the staircase, knowing that the top of the stairs would be considerably overexposed, but being comfortable with this as part of the overall effect.

As far as framing is concerned, I tried to use the hall door partly closed as the right hand part of the frame so just the staircase was shown and not the hallway. This did not seem to work so well and I thought it best to include part of the hallway to the right of the stairs. I like the way the light has caught the blue glass of the vase in the bottom right corner of the picture adding an extra area of interest.

I am happy with the way the photograph has turned out. It does show the stairlift in use to go upstairs to bed, but is much more symbolic with the person ascending towards the light.

My intention with this photo was to suggest;

· Need to use mechanical aid to go to bed

· Symbolism of ascending towards the light


Technical alternatives

The space available restricted my choice of lens to my 35mm prime or 18-55mm zoom. As the 35mm provided the framing that I wanted I was happy to use this lens.

I could have used a narrower aperture and neutral density filters to give an even slower shutter speed to give a greater blur of the person ascending the stairs, but I think the shutter speed I chose is about right, too much blur and it might not be recognisable.

Technical information

Lens: VR 35mm F/1.8G

Focal Length: 85mm

Aperture: F/8

Shutter Speed: 3sec

Exposure Mode: Manual

In the end I overexposed the whole scene even at the foot of the stairs and had to reduce the exposure levels post capture. I had also experimented with flash on part of the scene, which didn’t work, but I accidentally left my camera white balance setting on flash while taking these further photos. I changed this to daylight using my processing software.

How could this image be improved?

Perhaps I should have waited for the light to reduce at the top of the stairs later in the afternoon so that it is not so blown out but still giving the symbolic effect.


What have I learned from taking this photograph?

How to turn an adverse situation to your advantage, rather than wait for evening and use artificial light to give even illumination, by thinking it through I was able to come up with a more powerful and symbolic image with which to end the assignment.

Also – always remember to check camera settings before taking photos so you don’t accidentally leave the White Balance on the wrong setting!

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