Meg Twycross her Cabinet of Curiosities

Experiments with Reflection: Nativity 2

Sun index

All these photos are shot under the same conditions as the previous set, but the wooden figure of the Virgin has been replaced by a white pipeclay one whose head is slightly bent. The attitude of the figure, and the difference in modelling technique, mean that some effects show up differently. Both these figures are naturally homogeneous in texture: in real life, there would be variables when the light was directed towards humans — possibly softer or more varied on the Virgin, but if the Child were carved out of wood and painted white they would be more intense and regular. If the Virgin were wearing white, and /or were heavily bejewelled, the effects would again vary. Scroll down to see all examples.
            The camera was rather too close to the Child, who appears disproportionately large and out of focus.


(1).   White pipeclay figure 8cm high, general ambient daylight indoors, curtain between direct sunlight and figure to reproduce possible lighting conditions in roofed waggon.

(2).   Virgin in same position. Same wooden figure of Child, painted white, lying on gold-paper-covered cardboard ‘sunburst’. General ambient lighting. Again, the camera is compensating, but the white paint on the child and the gold foil on the ‘sunburst’ may be producing a minor diffuse reflection.

(3).   Same positions as (2). Sunlight coming through window reflected from primary reflector down onto Child and ‘sunburst’ from almost vertical angle. The main secondary reflection is again seen on the underside of the Child, but there is a visible sparkle on the Virgin's left sleeve. The reflected light is yellow in tone because both reflectors are golden. This would happen with a brass basin or tray.

(4).   Same positions as before. Sunlight reflected, but reflector angled to produce stronger concentration on ‘sunburst’. Further secondary reflections on the Virgin.

(5).   Primary reflected sunlight angled onto ‘sunburst’ to produce stronger secondary reflection on Virgin’s face. The head of this Virgin figurine is bent forward, so the reflected light strikes her face fully.

(6).   Primary reflected sunlight angled directly to produce ‘spotlight’ on Virgin. It tends to flatten out the contours of her face.

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