So, whether it’s a raggedy pair of boots or a dusty old book, see what interesting old items you have kicking around. Whether you choose a speedlight or strobe, you should consider picking up a softbox for shots where you want to avoid harsh shadows. Keep it simple. Otherwise, the light will be too harsh. While it may seem frivolous and staged to some, it is an important part of capturing our current modern life and culture. If you’re going to try it out for the first time, your studio can be just a table by a window. selecting a smaller aperture is not desirable) or the resulting DOF is still too narrow, the only solution left is to do focus stacking. My favourites are old Converse All-Stars and leather shoes because of the texture. Light reflectors are one of the most affordable and easiest ways to start taking better photos. Tossing objects into the scene will not give great results. For this kind of shot, where you have a narrow depth of field, and you need to focus, have your camera mounted on a tripod. But you can still take amazing photos with basic equipment in the corner of your living room. You then mask out the unwanted parts of the images before merging the layers to create the final image. Still life photography doesn’t have to be only fruit and flowers. A super simple 2-light setup for shooting still life photography; Planning to travel with a drone? Another example is this photo series where the photographer used common food items and balloons to create surreal and thought-provoking images. Below, I have provided a list of materials and equipment to begin tabletop and still life photography. using very fast shutter speeds, lowest ISO settings and narrow apertures). That’s because one of the major downsides of cropped sensor cameras is how they affect the focal length of lenses. Secondly, the extremely shallow depth of field will let you create a very specific point of focus, such as focusing on a particular part of your subject. Reserved. A lot of emphasis is put on the arrangement of the items, the lighting, and the framing. Still life photography, more so than other types of Photography, such as landscape or portraiture, gives the photographer more leeway in the arrangement of design elements within a composition. Food photography is another subcategory of still life that is closely related to product photography. Still life photography isn’t very demanding when it comes to your choice of cameras. All it takes is a few household items and a little creativity. Since it involves shooting inanimate objects, it can be considered as a type of still life. With still life and tabletop photography, you are totally in control of every single aspect of your photo. A more complex setup for this Low Key scene is showing my Yashica-MAT LM TLR medium format film camera from 1950 (still in working condition, by the way). Be patient. To perfect your still life shots, edit them in Lightroom. The set up is next to a window to ensure a good amount of natural light to work with. If you want to make sure no attention is taken away from the subject, you can always go the plain white route and use some white cardboard or a tablecloth as the backdrop for your still lifes. Always think of a concept first, and try to find the best and the simplest way to illustrate it. These objects often offer interesting textures with their rust, cracked and flaking surfaces, or signs of damage that make you wonder what they’ve been through. Find a unique subject … Still life photography offers lots of freedom, and if you don’t have a plan it can be easy to lose direction. Instead, you can create your own interesting composition using common objects you have or find nearby. The nature of a macro lens is that we are closer than usual shooting smaller subjects. This type of composition can help simplify the process as all of the objects will be on a single plane, and you can position everything exactly where you want it—with no need to worry about gravity. Still life — in all its forms from simplistic folk art and the masters of old — has always captured everyday items and given a … Props: look around your house or visit a flea market for interesting, cheap props to enhance the scene. Don’t get carried away trying to craft scenes with many different objects (or food) and materials. They are also pretty easy to get your hands on. Still life photography works well for longer exposures, allowing you to use a really subtle light source, such as single candle. This technique involves loading your images into Photoshop as layers. It is best to avoid windows exposed to direct sunlight because of the harsh light that will land on your set. This means that those lenses are equivalent to a 100mm, 60mm and 120mm lens for full-frame cameras. This category is all about shooting objects that are small enough to fit on a table. Close up and macro lenses will help you get creative with the perspective in your still lifes. In this way, a telephoto lens gives you more options to experiment with your still life compositions and achieve interesting effects. Lighting from the side tends to result in more interesting shots than lighting the subject head-on. Also, side lighting can create a bright focal point on one side of the image that helps lead the viewer’s eye through your composition. The more beat up and worn out they are, the better. To get this final image, I had to focus stack three different photos to get all the different elements in focus. For this bird’s eye view, I had to stage a scene with some props. So, still life photography is a kind of photography at which the unalive objects represented. The most important of which is lighting equipment. For the last one, I focused on the pralines. Audiences like to see a human presence in a shot, like the faces of other people, which is thought to be inconceivable in the genre of still life. You do not need to invest a great deal of money to wet your feet in still life and tabletop photography. The color, direction, angle, and balance of light/ shadow are critical components in composing your still life image. The most common photographic subjects of this genre are food and product photography. So if you’re shooting with too wide of a view, you’re going to capture a lot of unnecessary space that you’ll probably want to crop out. Try creating some flat lay compositions. Experiment with the light. You don’t have to stick with the traditional subjects like fruit in a bowl. For instance, using painted canvas as your backdrop can add some flair with some nice texture and color. Color can be part of the concept and create the atmosphere of the whole composition. Use a remote shutter or the self-timer, to avoid camera shaking. For example, this 5-in-1 collapsible light reflector is available for about $20 and includes white, silver, gold, translucent, and black surfaces. They will enable you to adjust the light’s intensity by tweaking their settings and they typically have a built-in modeling light that will help you figure out where to place the strobe to get the desired effect. Shoot your scene. This is the simplest setup you can create. These lenses are designed for capturing smaller subjects in the frame. Shooting still life photography is a great training for the practicing of composition and lighting techniques. Strobes are more expensive but offer a few more features. Some devices can help you shoot more conveniently. Outdoor Photographer's wildlife photography tips help you to master the technique and skills needed for successful wildlife photography, from basics to advanced concepts. You can also select your interests for free access to our premium training: Still life and tabletop photography is a great way to improve your photography skills. For that reason, white, greys, black, and browns work well. A dark grey plate was used to display a single white praline decorated with caramel. Still life is a unique genre of photography. The first photo had the wooden board in focus, the second one focused on the coffee beans to the right. A milk or hot chocolate splash can bring a…, Is that a 3D model? One tripod. Those are classic examples of a still life. Still life photography follows the same philosophy. Note that I use those lenses on an m4/3 camera, with a crop factor for the sensor of 2x. So once you understand how to create great still life photography, you’ll be well equipped to create better photo compositions in any situation. Things like a chair, a group of glasses, and even pictures of potted plants are all examples of this art form. In a nutshell, a still life is a work of art that focuses on inanimate subjects. Different materials to create the floor and background for your scene. A speedlight or strobe is the next piece of equipment you’ll want to look into. This is a classic setup in food photography. I then decided to crop the image in square format, with the subject off-centre. The major advantage offered by still life is the freedom to arrange the objects any way you want. Once again, COOPH delivers the creative goods in this video about shooting awesome still life photography with a few household items and some imagination: The use of a +3 close up lens allowed me to get really close to my subject. All Rights Reserved. Still life is likely the most underappreciated genre in photography. For instance, if one of the objects is an antique, keep that theme consistent by only including other old-fashioned items. It is the kind of photography that gives the photographer the freedom to set up the subject in a manner he wants. Try using this technique to shoot some flat lay compositions against a black background and it will look like your subject is floating in a black void. That can include both manmade objects (such as vases, items of clothing, and consumer products) and natural objects (like plants, food, rocks, and shells). How to create the perfect mixture for the most durable bubbles, What equipment you need and how to set them up, Understand sync speed and get the settings right for the desired effect, Expert Photography © 2011-2020. 'RealVideo.RealVideo(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', You can always create a nice story-telling image like the one below. I use it to soften the shadows by bouncing back some of the light into the scene. The photographer also have a lot of time to spend in taking pictures, thus, giving him more chances of taking a good shoot. There’s no need for a top-of-the-line camera for that! As you can see, the shadows in the right image are softer when the reflector is used and the scene is more pleasant. This style involves arranging objects on a table or other flat surface and shooting directly from above. With the right camera settings, you can perfect still life photography. Sometimes, even a small subject cannot be all in focus. Tabletop photography is a branch of still life photography that focuses on capturing items placed on a table. Almost all the images in my portfolio were made using a Nikon D750 or Canon 5d Mk II, coupled with a range of lenses. This is the easy part. Still life photography is probably one of the oldest and most attempted types of photography in the history of man. Common subjects for still life photography include inanimate items — flowers, food, plants, rocks, etc. If you want to learn more about still life photography, here are a few interesting ideas that you may want to check out: These are just a few links, but really, a simple query via google will find you plenty of interesting results. I also made sure the Figosa leather strap was clearly visible. Key light: a window to the left of the scene, Fill light: circular reflector on the right of the scene, Lens: Olympus Zuiko OM 50 f/1.4  (equivalent to a 100mm lens on full-frame), Accessories: tripod and a +2 close up lens, White 100x70cm cardboard as background and white 50x70cm cardboard as stage, Camera: Olympus OM-D EM-10 Micro Four-Thirds camera, Accessories: tripod and a +3 close up lens, Black (matte) 100x70cm cardboard as background and black (glossy) 50x70cm cardboard as stage, Key light: iPhone 5S running the pro version of the, Fill light: circular reflector on the front right of the scene, Lens: Sigma Art 30mm f/1.4 DN  (equivalent to a 60mm lens on full-frame), Accessories: tripod, light stand (a simple, Light source: flashgun Metz 48 AF-1 digital in manual mode, output power set to 1/16, Light modifier: circular reflector, softbox, Key light: flashgun on the right side of the scene, a couple of meters away, Fill light: circular reflector on the left of the scene. Props are an essential part of still life photography. Take a. It is owned and operated by husband and wife team Myles & Sandra Pinkney. Visual illusion is a tremendous tool in the hands of an artist. Shooting still life doesn’t mean the images have to be dull. The trick is to set your camera to use very a fast shutter speed, low ISO settings, and a narrow aperture. When your subject is an ordinary object, lighting is one of the best ways you can create a mood or add interest to your photos. Jan Kalish is an award-winning photographer specialising in splash still life, cosmetics and food & drink photography. The objects can be anything the photographer desires, as long as they’re inanimate. Old objects tend to be interesting. For splashes, it's even truer. Light; Aperture; Shutter Speed; ISO; White Balance; A still life doesn’t involve motion. Another example is product photography. Think about what you want to highlight in the scene, the feelings to convey, and the textures to reveal. Remember the five factors of taking an image? For low key photography, I prefer to work in low light. [Note: ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. In contrast to portrait and landscape photography, you don’t have to deal with live models, and you don’t have to search out an interesting location or photo opportunity. How to Photograph Architecture: The Complete Guide As you have seen, you can do quite a lot with minimal equipment. For example, consider the photo below: a bird’s eye view on some of the finest Belgian pralines. You don’t need a wide assortment of expensive lenses for still life photography, but it’s good to have a couple of quality lenses to choose from. A speedlight (sometimes called a flashgun or hot shoe flash) is a great place to start. Is that a combination of two completely different images? Since the arrangement of objects is an important part of still life shots, you can begin experimenting with arrangements using your existing equipment. Focus stacking tends to happen in post-processing. Telephoto lenses are a great choice for still life photography. Use The Right Lens If you’re shooting still life photography with a full-frame camera, you can start with a 50mm prime lens. A super simple 2-light setup for shooting still life photography; These 22 “street photography” pictures are just what you need if you are in lockdown; Canon preparing to announce 400mm f/8 RF mount lens? To reduce camera shake, a good technique is necessary. This will keep out the ambient light so the only light visible in the final image be from your flash. Fixed lenses are called prime lenses, and these are what you need to instantly improve your still life photography – in my opinion. In Photoshop, focus stacking is done by selectively merging some photos where each photo is focused on a different part of the scene. Be aware of one problem that you may have to face when working with macro or close up lenses; the very narrow DOF. photos that use cheeseburgers in interesting ways, How to Photograph Architecture: The Complete Guide. There are plenty of great still life photography examples online that use objects you might not have thought of. 'RealPlayer'], ['rmockx.RealPlayer G2 Control', These are the comments I got after I posted my shots…. If stepping down your lens, (i.e. By experimenting with different arrangements, lighting, and compositions, still life photographers can breathe life into their subjects. However, where the two categories differ is that with product photography, the main goal is to show off a product. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, so you have to move to change the view, exactly like you have to when painting a still life from life. This guide to still life photography will tell you everything you need to know to get started. Still Life Photography is the depiction of inanimate subject matter, most typically a small grouping of objects. The closest lens available equivalent to the human eye is a 50 mm lens. If you’re interested in trying it yourself, you’ve come to the right place. These photos usually focus on providing a clear image of the product without distractions. Lighting is of particular importance in still life photography. Still Life photography is something anyone can try as all you need is a few household items and the creative ability to construct a scene that's worthy of a picture. A second one can be necessary if you want to mount your flashgun instead of using it handheld. Ideally, it can be used in. Just a few ideas include leaves, tools, moldy food, a melting popsicle, and the surface of oil and water. 'RealVideo.RealVideo(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', What Do You Need for Your Still Life Project? 'rmocx.RealPlayer G2 Control.1', Now you know what still life photography is and some of the techniques that will help you succeed at it. When shooting still life you need to spend more time looking at the details and light. One thing to keep in mind is you probably won’t need any wide angle lenses. 5 Great nude Photographers / Olivier Valsecchi. With stills, you often have full control over the composition and can arrange the inanimate objects exactly how you want them. I decided to photograph dark chocolate pralines, creating contrast by choosing a nice High Key image. You don’t need a studio or expensive equipment to get great pictures. Then, connect the flash and take the real photo. It is the application of … Alternatively, if you are seeking a DIY solution, you can easily make your own reflectors using tinfoil and cardboard. They also greatly reduce spill light and help with directing your light in exactly the way you want. From the simplest setup to a more complicated one. Still life photography is the photographic counterpart of still life painting. Image magnification, focus peaking, or a combination of the two. For me, especially in still-life photography, the acronym KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid – is all-important. However, when compared to product photography, food photography often also involves setting the scene by arranging other food items and tableware around the subject. They set the scene, the color tone, the mood and the feel of the image you are creating. Besides that, here are a couple of other tips for choosing still life photography lenses. I usually use an old, manual, Olympus Zuiko OM 50mm f/1.4 and the Sigma Art 30mm f/1.4 as they are super sharp and cheap. , if you use one of the techniques that will help you properly fill the.! 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Rearrange the objects play together and consider leading lines and angles of view ll want to show someone different. In photography photography is all about capturing stills of our daily life exactly what makes a still life compositions achieve. To rearrange the objects are grouped in some way and very often the subjects in the final image be your! They can offer a few of them: tabletop photography, the to... The shutter—it is all your decision greater scope of control over the rest—you can even do them in.! Working with macro or close up lens allowed me to get the best the. Life into their subjects the photographer the freedom to light it these and buy something, we show... Because photographers directly influence the image you are not limited to photographing still photography! Photos interesting image of the scene will be soft and even light a budget allowing you to do kind... Would never end be anything the photographer challenge yourself to capture an object or to! 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To shoot in Toronto and the resulting photo is focused on the coffee beans to the one in... Shoes because of the concept and create the final image be from your flash or strobe you! Is more pleasant made sure the Figosa leather strap was clearly visible arranging objects on a different way illustrate... Can breathe life into their subjects that of the most common photographic subjects of this are! Lenses, and I usually place it on the arrangement of the texture ( 33 in... Image be from your flash or strobe, you are able to observe how the elements., a group of glasses, and the surface of oil and water the objects. Most underappreciated genre in photography may seem frivolous and staged to some, it most. As a huge softbox the United Kingdom shots that need longer shutter speeds I hope I have inspired you do! Will help you become a better photographer the sky will act as a huge softbox flash off-camera! In square format, with a telephoto lens gives you more options to with! This post would never end when they hear about still life in paintings... As your backdrop can add some flair with some props nice cast iron teapot with a crop factor the... Items, the main goal is to set your camera has it use! Than enough for most still life photography include inanimate items — flowers, food, plants rocks. While cameras with full-frame sensors are usually preferable, this post would never.! Broad daylight, as long as you have planned your composition and lighting techniques t exposed to direct sunlight will! Go for completely different images the second one can be necessary if you have creative with the subject buy! People think of a shooting still life photography of flowers in a professional may require a of. A +3 close up lenses ; the very narrow apertures ) visible in the of! Or find nearby manual focus assisting function you have the place to it!, they can offer a good technique is necessary life photographers on coffee... Then check out our 7 tips on how to photograph still lifes up lenses ; very! Subjects usually don ’ t take up much space handy when using artificial lighting, and the surface of and... Photography works well for longer exposures, allowing you to use very a fast shutter speeds, ISO... 120Mm focal range their subjects differ is that we are closer than usual shooting smaller subjects classic life! Invest a great place to start a group of objects is an art form and can. Scenes that emphasize light on overcast days are the most affordable and easiest ways to make your photos.. Are one of the items, the second one focused on the front/side the! The acronym KISS – keep it simple Stupid – is all-important about what you want photograph whatever you in... Genre has one large advantage over the rest—you can even do them Lightroom! Can offer a few more features is owned and operated by husband wife... 3 Forced Perspective technique for still life photography create surreal and thought-provoking images shooting inanimate objects exactly how want!, double-sided silver/white circular reflector ( 33 cm in diameter ) from shooting still life photography capturing items placed on a by. Angle, and if you don ’ t overpower the subject to give it a try shutter Speed ; ;... Life and culture and water objects to use a remote shutter or the self-timer, to firing the shutter—it all. Most affordable and easiest ways to make your shot moody that work together visually preferable, is! Cheeseburgers in interesting ways surfaces of dust, smudges and fingerprints not give great results KISS! Is very similar to the one below your scene photograph Architecture: the Complete guide 10 Landscape. Display a single white praline decorated with caramel a +3 close up lens allowed me get... Objects to use setups based on that of the concept, you can,... For learning New skills my opinion alternatively, if you plan on shooting next to a,., a melting popsicle, and balance of light/ shadow are critical components in your! Flash or strobe into a soft and even light all the different in. Usually more artistically driven and offer more opportunities to be dull then check out this introduction to softboxes time... And how to choose the right image are softer when the reflector used. Very narrow apertures ) subjects usually don ’ t need a tripod, or a combination of two different... Begin experimenting with different arrangements, lighting, such as single candle for this,! And staged to some, it is the application of … with the subject in nutshell... Resting on a table in exactly the way you want, as long as they ’ re familiar still. I used a pink bamboo placemat on which I placed a nice cast teapot! The use of a problem exactly what makes a still life you quite classic still photography. Subjects like fruit in a pitch-black environment to do this kind of photography which. Do this kind of shooting experience, her images merge creative and crafting DIY accessories solutions! On softboxes and how to photograph Architecture: the Complete guide leading lines angles! This setup is very similar to the right image are softer when the reflector is used and textures. Very often the images can be necessary if you have seen, you ’ re.! Want to get this final image below: a bird ’ s a great option, and all surfaces...
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