Still Life - Learn how to capture those stunning still life images. Improve your chances of a winning shot of aunt Gertrude if she sits still, a bowl of petunias or the cat.... Click an image to view the Learning Gallery.
Tenbury Photographic Club, Still Life Photography
Wikipedia defines Still Life Photography as a genre of photography used for the depiction of inanimate subject matter, typically a small group of objects.
Could be a bicycle against a lamp post, piece of furniture or more normally small objects on a table top. Implicit story.
The image that comes to mind is probably the Dutch Master with a table laden with fruit or vegetables with a pheasant or two hanging over the edge. The problem then is of finding enough room to set it up.
Whether we appreciate it or not we are surrounded by still life pictures: Cookery books in particular. Catalogues, magazines, newspapers, advertising hoardings all contain still life images.
Probably the original still life photographers were William Fox Talbot and the other early photographers whose experiments included groups of everyday objects if only because they were unlikely to move during the long exposures necessary.
The three ‘L’ s which Simon referred to in his talk are still relevant here :
Lens, Light, Look.
Standard lens, i.e. 50mm on DSLR, kit lens or fixed as on compact cameras.
Close up lenses or supplementary lenses can be useful for table top, but not absolutely necessary.
Given that the subject is inanimate the length of exposure is irrelevant as one can take as long as is necessary. This will depend on the type and amount of light used which can be daylight or artificial. Preference seems to be for artificial again because of the total control it gives.
Small apertures work best due to increased depth of field but depends on the image intended. Any sort of light will do.
On camera flash will give very flat light and awkward shadow
This is possibly more important in still life photography because one has total freedom as to the content and style of the subject. In some ways it also makes it the most difficult because of the freedom of choice.
Getting started : Go slow
Don’t be overly ambitious at first.
Look round the house, start with a single object then build up with other related or contrasting colours or shapes.
Maybe you can develop a theme ? maybe a favourite possession, maybe a child’s toy, musical instrument, etc
Try to avoid two or four objects of the same size and shape.
Because you are in charge there is no need to hurry.
For small objects make space on a table, by a window or with one or two lamps and a simple background. Larger subjects will need more floor space. No problem with tungsten light because white balance can be adjusted.
A tripod is a good idea if only that it slows you down and gives more time to observe and consider the composition. Also reduces camera shake.
A reflector might be useful but not absolutely necessary. A piece of white card or paper can be used, however if using reflected light be careful what colour the surface is due to possible colour cast.
Received wisdom is that the background is selected first then the main subject adding the support accessories one by one, checking for composition, balance and proportion with each addition.
Photographing liquids and glass can be difficult due to the transparency which means that backgrounds are important. Care will be needed with cut glass due to reflections.
Food photography can be seen to be close to still life painting where the simplest will normally be the best.
Cooked food has to be done as soon as possible after cooking to avoid congealing or looking flat.
Creativity is the basis, the limit is ones own imagination ….
David Downward - 100118