Research Point – Diffused Light – Gabriele Basilico

Brief:- To prepare for the next exercise, look online at the cityscapes of Gabriele Basilico. Notice the smooth quality of light, the sense of space and the way architecture seems more like sculpture, with its shape and form emphasised. And look at the broad tonal range in Mike Walsh’s landscape below, which comes from the naturally occurring light and dark tones in the landscape.


I had a look through some of Basilico’s photography and it took me a while to get into. I have a resistance to black and white photography “if you can’t take photos then take them in black and white it will at least have mood”. It is not a helpful attitude to have, but I do think it is harder to work with light in colour photography then in black and white. I have not researched what other people think, I am aware there is a whole debate about black and white v colour, so I am prepared to be corrected.

However, after a while doing some research I found some photos that I really enjoyed. As one of the aims of the brief is to explore the tonal range then I have viewed the histograms in Photoshop and will show the images with the respective histogram.

Sanfransisco 2007

Basilico; 2007

The perspective and the angles are what catch my eye here. I like the view from above as it’s not one that I experience. I also like the levels of contrast between the highlights and the darks. This is definitely not an example of making a photograph in diffused lighting. The shadows and the highlights give this away. The histogram is interesting though. I would expect the peaks in the whites and blacks, but the tone throughout the rest of the image is smooth.

Basilico montecarlo with Histogram

Basilico; 2007a

Perspective, leading lines of roads, non flat horizon, cars – all create an interest due to the movement of the eye through the image. Then to learn the photo is of Monte Carlo, but it looks dirty. The photo was taken in 2005 or 2006. This throws up a mental challenge for me. Through my years of watching Formula 1 on TV, and knowing of the harbour, the casino I have come to believe that Monte Carlo is a place of beauty for the rich and famous. I have had to look really closely to explore the “dirt” – there does not appear to be too much grain, but on close viewing the focus is not clear from the mid-ground to background. This is a more neutral photo than San Fransisco.

Bor de Mer with histogram

Basilico; 1984

Crisp, journey, transition, ferry framed by dockside and by light of sky and reflection of sky in water. The sky shows that the photo was taken with cloud that may be slightly broken in some places but also diffused lighting. I have learned to see that reflections of objects in water always look as if the light is from above wherever it comes from. That may seem obvious to many, but I only became aware of this at the start of Foundations in Photography, when I started to look with my mind open. The histogram does not show a smooth tonal gradient, but that is to be expected with the white from the sky and the highlights in the water. However, I am going to ignore the histogram and say that what I see is a balanced image with blacks, shadows, mid-tones, whites and highlights. Additionally I have evoked memories of the ferry from childhood and that does have an impact upon me.

Sotto la pelle di beirut with histogram

Basilico; 1991

Even before the title I became aware that this is a photo of a war zone. Houses falling to pieces (blown apart), bullet holes, the possibility that the photo of the man is a missing person photos, and what appears to be a military vehicle further up the road (it isn’t, but its enough to add to the image of war). To me the broad and smooth tonal range of this photo is the most obvious out of the four. There is an ease to the eye because of the lighting, which is added to by the composition, where all of the leading lines point to the centre of the photo.


OK so I have only written up the research today and I have already completed the photos for the next exercise. However, I read through the course manual before starting on workflow, so I have been exploring lighting, time of day, contrast, cover, clouds, white balance and diffuse lighting from the start of the course. I prefer to shoot in bright sun with no cloud cover when making macro photography, but prefer broken cloud the rest of the time. Maybe I would enjoy shooting at sunrise or dusk, however I am never out doors at those times. I have a routine in the morning (health related) that means I am not out at sunrise anytime of the year, and you wont find me out at dusk at this time of year, too many drunk people, means too much anxiety. I did enjoy exercise 1.9 Soft Light Landscape (the results were not as enjoyable as the exercise), and I will publish that over the next few days.


Basilico Gabriele; 1984; Bord de Mer; in (accessed on 14/07/2017)

Basilico, Gabriele; 1991; Beirut 1991; in (accessed on 14/07/2017)

Basilico, Gabriele; 2007; San Fransisco; (accessed on 14/07/2017)

Basilico, Gabriele; 2007a; Basilico Montecarlo; Gabriele Basilico, Marco Belpoliti, Jean-Michel Bouhours; Arles; Actes Sud; in (accessed on 14/07/2017)


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