Still-Life Photography Ideas

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In still-life photography, the photographer sets the mood and ambiance through lighting, color and focus. Practice creating a mood to make a still-life more interesting with helpful tips from a professional freelance photographer in this free video on photography subjects.

Part of the Video Series: Studio Photography
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Video Transcript

Hello! I'm Alex Compton with Luminescence Photography in Pahrump, Nevada. I'd like to share with you a few pointers on taking still-life photos. Still-life is predominantly anything which is inanimate. Any type of inanimate object whether it be something dead, man-made or even a living thing such as a plant which is basically stuck into a one spot and cannot move. Unlike its animate counterparts, it cannot show any kind of emotion or feeling so in order for us to give a tone to our picture we create that mood, that emotion or that feeling by the use of several factors. One is the use of lighting or the absence of light, one is with color or the absence of color, the other would be with the creation of texture and softness. So usually with the inanimate objects, I suggest that you use some kind of an ambient lighting. Ambient meaning basically it's some kind of a filtered lighting situation. It's not necessarily always the case, sometimes you're wanting to create something in a very harsh light, just depends on what you're photographing and what kind of mood and tone you're going to set. If you're wanting to show something's dark, you use dark lighting. For this particular example, I'm going to use something which is creating kind of a soft and rustic feel so what I'm going to use is a little bit of natural filtered light coming through a north face window so it's somewhat steady, okay, and it will create a soft shadowed effect on the subject matter. So, here I've opened up the north face window and I've already got set up what it is that I would like to photograph. In this case I'm using and old, rustic apple cart, they're apple crate with a few silk flowers, sunflowers with a simulated milk canister on here. It's a plain background, I've tried playing with different things and this particular situation I didn't like the look or the feel of it so I just stayed with the one. But you can see we now have a soft shadow coming through the soft window. There's another more harsh shadow that the angle from which I plan on shooting, that one is going to be hidden behind the view. Just to give it a little bit softer look, in this case I put a warm reflector off onto the side and it's giving it just a minimum of bounce, a little shed, minimum of the yellow color in this just to give a little bit more of that warm tone that I'm going to look for in this rustic picture. When it comes to this, you're going to also have to make sure and adjust your camera settings accordingly. We're not going to be using a flash that would kill all the ambiance and change the whole mood and make it a completely flat and dull picture. So we have to make sure that we're going to have enough light in on our meter when we set it. So we have to do a few adjustments, we might have to take a couple of tries. That's the beauty of digital is you can do that to test it out. If you're not quite an expert yet on just what kind of settings you have to have. So here I'm going to go ahead and take my shot. In this case I'm kind of coming down and creating a nice little look over here and getting a little bit of angle to the shot, I'm getting different textures off of the flower and off of the apple crate.


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