Posts tagged “Still Life Photography

Statue by Silas Qayaqjuaq (Two Photographs)

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I have long admired Silas’s work and it’s as fine up close as sitting on the table in our living room. His sculptures are often small but very animated, really beautiful work. I used this piece to experiment with lighting and my bellows (totally manual). The full sculpture is below.


Imagining an Outcome (Two Photographs)

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From my days working with professional photographers in my teens I realized what made a pro a pro was their ability to describe what the photograph would look like before they took it and guarantee the results.

Envisioning the final result is an important step in my work. Though I will admit that it sometimes does not work quite the way I hoped.


Show-Time (Two Photographs)

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I went to this fair where local craftsmen, antique shops etc. show and sell their goods. Normally these events provide  significant opportunity for great shots. But this year I was hard pressed to see something I had not seen the year before. I took very few shots, of which these two may be the best.


Shot With A Snoot (Three Photographs)

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A snoot is a funnel that narrows the light like a spotlight. The light is coming straight down. The bust of Lenin is from a trip to the Soviet Union back in the seventies when he was taken more seriously. The seashell is from East Africa. The silver bowl is an heirloom.


A Little Pepper (Two Photographs)

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This was a test of two things that generally apply in photography: hard light versus soft light and post-processing reduction of specular highlights. The shadows show the difference in hard versus soft light, and I think most would prefer softer lighting. Specular highlights are areas where the bright light almost obliterates the subject and leaves a white spot. While healing tools can fix this, to keep things natural I have kept the range of tonality.


Aside

White on White (Two Photographs)

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Horizons are important I have found out, as is both on set and post production cleaning of the image. Still the results can be dramatic. The lighting is challenging if you want realistic shadows; I went for hard light to accentuate the shadows.


Garlic (Two Photographs)

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Having gone through two other similar set ups, the lighting for this subject was easier. This is one of the all time truths of photography. Every genre has a learning curve and at first it’s daunting and a bit of perseverance is the only solution. You read the manual and the solution never quite comes out the same, the recipe needs your own touch.


An Apple, A Pear and Lime (Three Photographs)

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I am gaining great respect for product photographers and still life photographers. The set-up and lighting is one thing, editing is another. All have a learning curve, until you figure things out. There is some educational material on the web for lighting, some on composition but little on editing, and all of it is subject dependant (e.g. glass, metal, opaque subjects etc.). But after this studio work, I went out into the forest today and had a better appreciation for the light I saw.


More Fun With Backlighting (Three Photographs)

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I am shooting with my Fuji X-3 and Godox flash gear (AD200, 860 II, 350 F) and a Godox controller. Still life Photography set-ups are an area of photography that can be quite interesting (and challenging). I am trying various set ups with small things to see what works. In the third photograph only the fill light fired and my main light shooting from behind failed to shoot. Even accidents are lessons in photography.


Side-lit and Back-lit (Three Photographs)

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I tried side lighting, very much like window lighting (first colour photograph), and it worked especially with a polarizing filter to tone down some of the highlights. The black and white and second colour were back-lit. I am told this is done quite a bit with food photography (you bounce the light back into the front the subjects with a white board or reflector. The idea is the light pulls the viewer in as the light spills over the top or so I am told (certainly a lighting pattern to try again to see what other results I can get).


Backgrounds (Three Pictures)

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Backgrounds in still life are just as important as in bird photography. Here I used table cloths, (plastic and cloth) both helped with texture, luminance and added interest. In hindsight, in the photo of the pot I should have lowered my horizon by raising my camera or moving the objects closer, a lesson learned.


Shadows and Highlights (Three Photographs)

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With studio strobe lighting you get a very sharp tool as opposed to using continuous light, everything is a matter of inches. Realistic shadows are the next thing I will tackle. The shadows here are too subtle. I figured out a polarizing filter would help tone down highlights that were too bright. One step forward at the very least.


Dust and Other Issues (Three Photographs)

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Cleaning the metal objects turned out to be easier in Photoshop than in the real world. I was able to mitigate the glare on the fruit with a polarizing filter. This was the first time in a long time that I shot a piece of reflective steel. The angle of your camera relative to the light is key but I did not want the highlights to go completely so I compromised. Still more to learn on perspective and depth of field but my lighting experiments are coming along. An Xrite colour checker is coming in handy, when I remember to use it, for white balance, and I am tethering the camera to a laptop, giving an easier way to look at composition and lighting before taking the picture, and reviewing the results immediately afterwards.


The Plastic Plant Light Test (Thee Photographs)

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For a few years now I have shared what I have learned in photography. I have recently been experimenting with strobes. In this case the object of my study was both direction of light, subtle shadow as well as the quality of light in terms of colour. Yes I processed them and tweaked them. What did I learn? Controlling shadow is not as easy as it looks or experts tell you. What looks good in the camera may be too subtle. Thirdly, that white balance takes on a crucial role in studio work. Lastly I need to watch depth of field more carefully than I would with nature photography. Being in total control of subject and light has its challenges.


Quality of Light (Three Photographs)

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Photography is as much about light as anything else. The best way to learn about light is to work with every kind and quality of light you have at your disposal. I have some studio gear I fool around with and it helps me learn about light. I highly recommend trying this even if it is only with window light or, much better, an off camera flash.


Dolls (Two Photographs)

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These were taken in an antique market. There were multiple light sources and white balance was hard to set (should have used a grey card). But I liked how the colour came out with a few fixes in Photoshop. The black and white was a bonus because I had to see how it would turn out.


Nature Still Life (Two Photographs) – and a link to my new Gallery of Farms

Natural Still Lie-2To view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

I happened on this arrangement and have no idea how it came about, human or squirrel intervention seems possible. It was a short fall shooting season given my schedule and the weather, so one of my favorite fall pastimes of shooting the forest floor for more intimate landscapes was limited. I have tried this shot in color and black and white and I am showing the results simply to reveal the possibilities.

Natural Still Lie

To view my gallery of Farm photographs please click on: Farms