Exposed in Black and White
This is the 6th image from a project that I started almost exactly one year ago where I use multi-directional lighting to selectively illuminate the background, primary subject and foreground (individually) using a 320-lumen LED torch. And with each installment of the project I become more and more impressed with the incredible creative flexibility this technique offers when blending all of the exposures together. For this image I used 3 exposures for the background, 2 exposures for the foreground, and 30 exposures for the still life arrangement. The real magic of this technique lies in the blending process where I can be very selective of what light (or shadow) I use considering that each component of the scene is lit from multiple angles.
I'll point out a few elements of the 'magic' for those who may not recognize the unique characteristics of the lighting: First, notice there are 3 color-correction filters laying in front of the camera. Each of the filters were lit by placing the torch directly over the filter transmitting the filters' color to the table top, yet there are no harsh glares on the glass and the filter rings aren't casting a shadow downward. All of that was achieved by simply masking out the glares and shadows from other exposures where those elements did not occur. Similarly, notice there is no significant light, reflection, or shadow on the table top immediate surrounding the rest of the still life. That is also achieved by masking out those elements from other exposures. The remaining elements of the masking either hide or reveal specular highlights or subtle pockets of light, particularly along sharp edges, as I desired to allow each component to take shape.
Whether or not this lighting technique produces a 'realistic' image really isn't my point to convey - its just my personal interpretation of the scene and allows me vastly greater latitude in achieving a vision than isn't possible with single-exposure still life projects.