Posts tagged “Still Life Photography

Window Pane – 2

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This just shows that the window pane, a popular lighting effect can be scaled. You could even use it in portraiture making it look like you were using a window light.


Window Pane

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The window pane pattern comes from a grid on my soft box off to the side. You can use any off camera flash in a cheap soft box but make sure you get a grid to create this effect and to better direct the light. Godox and Neweer have good boxes.


Top Down Lighting

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There are unlimited numbers of lighting schemes, and groups thereof. Taking top down lighting as an example, I wanted to try it with a very narrow beam of light – shooting down a cardboard  paper towel tube was one thing I tried, then a few snoots (snoots are plastic, fabric or metal very like the paper towel tube I fabricated). I found most worked equally well regardless of length. It was where the light was focused that mattered most, and for me the best position was slightly in front of the object but shedding some light on the front of the subject. This called is feathering.


Forked

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This photograph was born of an idea to try something influenced by Busby Berkeley’s amazing cinema choreography (worth a look up on You Tube). Inspiration is a wonderful thing.


The Common Kitchen Sponge (Two Photographs)

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I was pretty sure that the sponge would make for an interesting subject. I did not realize it would be so fluid. Only about one in three tries at this level of magnification work out. In some cases I have taken a hundred shots on an educated guess of the outcome with mixed results.


Photography is an Art Form (Two Photographs)

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I am a firm believer that photography is an art form and that you can be very creative in this medium. It’s one of the reasons I decided to try extreme macro, the abstracts and designs are endless. In this case an old tape measure.


Lights, Camera, Action…

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At one point I worked in the Movies but that was a long time ago. My current camera, I am told, makes wonderful movies. I sincerely doubt that I could make a quality movie with any DSLR or mirrorless without purchases of necessary accessories, a considerable learning curve and new software. I am quite content with stills. The shot here was not easy and took three lights: a gridded soft box to the left pointed along the table, a second light highlighted the unraveling film, and a third acted as fill for the rest. After 60 shots I got the reel of film illuminated, after that it was smooth sailing.


Antiques

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The telescope and compass are brass reproductions from India, almost indistinguishable, except for their newness, from those used in early colonial days. The book is the Boys Own Annual 1899-1900.The lighting pattern here is a soft box to the side, shooting through a diffusion panel. Depending on the tilt of the box, the panel and strength of the flash in the box you can get more or less light fall off, I chose less. I placed the soft box higher, giving a darker table on the side of the soft box and more light farther out on the table.


Studio No.7

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In my experiments in still life photography, I have used some of what I have learned in doing macro and close up photography of insects in the field. But there is nothing like having every element of the photograph in your control. I start with a completely black photo, so that as I add light all the light is my decision, my creation.


Studio No.5

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When studying table top photography a good understanding of diffusion helps, as well as the various tools to help with diffusion (not just soft boxes, but things like bed sheets and shower curtains). The larger the source of light and closer it is to the subject, the softer it will be and the farther away the harder the light.


Studio No.4

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There are some very good lessons on studio lighting on Youtube – see Adorama, for example. When they talk about one light lighting, they usual mean one light and a reflector (which could just be a piece of white board to fill in shadows). Still life, table top photography calls for ingenuity and inventiveness (e.g DIY).


Studio No.3

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Most things have reflective surfaces that can cause hot spots, some of these may help your composition, most will not. Spending time understanding the angles that reduce hot spots is a necessary skill (move the camera or the light, find the angle with the best light and least hot spots).


Studio No.2

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Most of the points I make will sound obvious but believe me they matter. The first is about dust, no matter how clean your surface seems, there will always be dust. You won’t see it in camera or even looking closely at the set but it is there. While some can be fixed in processing it’s good to have a blower and cloth and go over the set several times.


Studio Work

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This week I will write about doing still life photography at home (table top photography).  I use a real table and not a product box. I use different kinds of flash, mainly Godox brand; reliable and relatively inexpensive. I also use various stands and background, some store bought some DIY. Being able to control all the light and in doing so learn about light is a great way to improve my photography.


Texture

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Here I have mixed a smooth surfaced object with a textured background. Depending on the shooting angle, backgrounds can be a little challenging and need special attention.


Backlit Glass

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Backlighting glass is one of the ways of avoiding problematic reflections. Glass is interesting to work with given the various shapes and sizes available.

 


Common Things

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Shooting things around the house may look easy but shiny surfaces, angles of light, types of lighting are all a little complicated to solve. The many tutorials on line help, but in the end, I think table top lighting has an interesting and fun learning curve.


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.