14 Apr 2008

Photographing still life - part 2

If you really want to progress with you still life photography, set yourself tasks and projects – start off simply with one object and a plain background and work up from there. Try adding more objects and think carefully about the positioning of each, but remember that simple compositions are usually most effective. Photographing a vase of flowers or bowl of fruit presents lots of interesting challenges in light and composition… artists have been painting these things for centuries.
Vary the lighting, bearing in mind the different attributes of each object you are photographing – its texture, colour or shape. Move on to more challenging subjects – try photographing a glass decanter or wine glass; you might try doing this without any glaring reflections – you could fill the glass with a rich red Rioja to add colour - and then celebrate a successful image by drinking the prop. Cheers!

It is always best to start the composition very simply and add one thing at a time until you are happy with the result. For the top pictures, I just leaned a plank of old wood at the back of the bench placed the horse on the bench in front of it. I liked the combinations of subtle blue colours. Following the blue colour theme I then hung a coil of blue rope on the background to add another shape and colour – see lower picture. I prefer the simplicity of the first shot.

It’s a really useful idea to gather together a collection of still life props. Almost anything that attracts your eye might come in useful – a small piece of driftwood, a colourful pebble or two, dried flowers, a few different fabrics for background and foregrounds. Every one might be used at some time when you really get into still life photography.

Below is a photograph using one of the many props I have collected in my shed for still life photography. It is just a an old tea chest half-full of unglazed pot jugs. I have cut away two sides of the box to reveal the jugs inside and make it easier to
photograph them. The jugs can be arranged any way I prefer and all I have to do is turn the box around for the best light.

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