For photographer Hannah Concannon, “still life has been mostly about experimentation and trying new things, because you never quite know how certain light is going to reflect off of a marble versus a rose.” In my first article, Beginner’s Guide to Still Life Photography, I talk about the physical and storytelling elements involved in setting up a still life scene. Earlier, I mentioned foam core. One of the benefits of shooting still life photography indoors in a studio is that you have a lot more control over the lighting. So instead, you go out when the light is softer: on overcast cloudy days or at the Golden Hour. The shallow V-shaped light modifiers are heavy black cardboard. This helps to avoid blown-out highlights, and it softens the shadows for a more natural look. In fact, stick to these 5 tips, and you will nail your still life shots every time. the position of your subject to the camera. The color, direction, angle, and balance of light/ shadow are critical components in composing your still life image. This was shot with an electronic flash. A focal length like this has two advantages. I can experiment with techniques like pouring a liquid and then capturing the motion – while the rest of the still life retains sharpness. However, if your only option is to shoot in a garage, or a basement room, then artificial lighting may be your best option. Of course, the missing component of that article was the lighting, and such is its importance that I am dedicating an article specifically for the lighting of a still life photograph. It can be quite focused, directional, and intense. Photograph by Stacey Hill. Photograph by Stacey Hill. It has a direct impact on the quality of the image and the mood/story that you are trying to tell. Yes. Photograph by Stacey Hill, The shadows give depth to a still life photograph. Make your lighting contrasty: Whether you are using strobes, speedlights, or LED’s, it’s … Natural light is my preferred choice, but it isn’t the only option. We can intensify and deepen the shadows by blocking light. Photograph by Stacey Hill. You will also likely have colors that are washed out and highlights that are blown out. Light is a critical factor in all photography, but not just any light. NOTE: We made a fancy PDF of this post for printing and viewing offline. Improve your still life photographs with these tips from professional photographer Julie Hearty on using natural lighting. Lighting for still life is not complicated. It has to be the right light for the situation. Use an simple backdrop: Wrinkles and ridges in a still life photograph – unless a part of the setting – will be distracting to your main subject. With the subject matter being inanimate objects, their tendency to stay very still allows you to take time to refine your lighting, and experiment with your composition. Let’s look at a range of different images that were shot in my studio (my setup for these different shots was always the same). 4. Favorite subjects of mine are still-life images in the style of the old Dutch Master’s paintings. One of the benefits of still life photography is that it doesn’t necessarily need to take up a lot of space. Founded in 2012, our focus has always been simple, practical tips and tutorials, for beginners. 3. Photograph by Stacey Hill. It is sitting outside of the frame, but you can see the impact it has had on this series. My flag was placed to camera right of the jug. As far as impact goes, here is a sequence of images (below) that I shot with exactly the same setup, except for one thing…. It’s inexpensive and can be easily cut to size. Use an simple backdrop: Wrinkles and ridges in a still life photograph – unless a part of the setting – will be distracting to your main subject. Recommended Reading: If you’re interested in learning more about light and how you can use it to improve your photography, grab a copy of Photzy’s bestselling premium guide, Understanding Light Book Two. 3 Free Photography Cheat Sheets That Will Help You Understand the Basics, These 15 Images Will Show You Why Storytelling is a Powerful Photographic Tool, Do you know what your #1 Photography Killer is (and what it means)? Not only does the lighting have technical considerations, but it is also a key element creating the mood, or feeling, that you wish to bring to the image. Notice how it has a light, dreamy, and ethereal mood. The backdrop is white foam core draped with a white gauzy fabric that gives a seamless universal background in the distance. Key Information: The brightness and intensity of the light that you have on your scene is important. Photograph by Stacey Hill. In this video tutorial Julie talks about how to find the right light and position your subject, using a reflector to fill in … For example, if the scene is a cold winter night, with a hot chocolate sitting in front of a fire, you will probably go for a darker, moodier lighting option. Whether or not commercial Still Life is an area you want to enter professionally, practicing in a still life context will give you a better understanding of directing light for maximum photographic impact. Hope you had fun in the process. By Discovery Center Team. Tips for Getting Started with Still Life ... 6 Still Life Photography Mistakes and How ... Understanding Light for Better Portrait Photography, Explorations in Natural Light for Photography. The window allows me to use natural light as the basis for my photography. The primary light source is a window on the left so that the light comes from the left, and slightly behind camera. The food shown in a still life photograph is always the star of the show, but the props and backgrounds can make the food more approachable and help set the story. Eventually she discovered the fun and creative possibilities to be had with Photoshop. It may also require you to make technical adjustments to the way you shoot a scene. The way a photographer uses light for still life will add mood, give context, provide interest, and ultimately, create a dynamic still life photograph. For this dark raspberry shot, the background is a black painted card. If you block a lot of light to go for the dark, moody, heavy, shadow style, you absolutely need to shoot on a tripod. You will need to have the right shutter speeds to get the outcome that you want, and that may impact the decisions that you will make on how to light the scene. Lighting for shape will be most emphasized by side light, when your highlights spread along the edge of your subject and add that 3rd dimension. Photograph by Stacey Hill, There is more light on the foreground and the jug to camera left. The balance between light and shadow is what gives the physical elements on your set their 3-dimensional presence, and that can be part of your creative style when lighting a still life photograph.