Tag: Still Life Photography

Still Life Photography Tips And Techniques, Part 1 – Still Life Photography Definition

In today’s photo tip, we will begin a study of still life photography tips and techniques. We’ll start out with a still life photography definition that will define the two main areas of still life photography.

Learning how to shoot still life photos should make you start jumping up and down with joy! Why? Getting good at the various still life photography tips and techniques is the absolute fastest way to total mastery of photo techniques! You’ll get MUCH better at seeing how light and shadow affects a photograph – how form comes into play, composition, harmony and on and on. Texture, balance and color interactions play big parts too!

The fun thing is that as you get better and better at shooting great still life subjects, your other photography will improve as well.In other words, it’s not just a bowl of fruit! It’s a terrific training ground! Actually that’s why so many of history’s master artists did so many still life paintings!

If you can figure out how to arrange the proverbial bowl of fruit into an interesting composition – and get comfortable doing it – you will start to recognize what shapes and colors work together. You’ll start to see what angles the light should be coming from to get the most 3rd dimensionality. You’ll start to get a feel for what textures will make a stunning photo and which ones will turn out to be nothing but a big blah.

AND, all of this knowledge will work its way into the photos you do of other subjects as well. I’ve never heard any sort of statistics, but I would venture to guess that the world’s top landscape photographers could easily switch over to still life’s if the need arose. And vice versa.

To begin our study of still life photography tips and techniques, let’s start with a still life photography definition explaining the two types of still life.

There are two major types of still life photos. You have the “found still life” and the “created still life”.

When most of think of a still life photo, we generally think of a created still life where we build the entire composition – from choosing the most photogenic bowl, to what fruit to use, to how to position and light all the other elements. (By the way, still life photography is much more than just fruit. I’m only using a bowl of fruit as an easily understood example.)

But, when you are walking down your favorite mountain trail and run across a fallen leaf sitting on a particularly attractive rock – that’s a still life too!

If you photograph it as is, without making any adjustments… That would be a “found still life”.

While most of our articles will discuss the “created still life”, it is important to recognize that there is a difference and at the same time to realize that the characteristics that make a stunning – created still life – are the same characteristics that will make an effective found still life.

The only differences are that in a “found still life” you run across it naturally rather than set it up.

Even more important, you are now more aware! You will now recognize that there is a stunning photo sitting there, rather than just trample the leaf underfoot and keep walking.

Still Life Photography – How to Shoot Good Pictures

Still life photography has many uses. Perhaps you want to take a picture of a beautiful shell or perhaps take a picture of a product that you’re selling on eBay. Other reasons for learning still life photography may include selling still life photograph downloads at microstock sites or to food magazines. No matter what your reason, still life photography is a great skill to learn.

Unless you are photographing specific products or pictures for a magazine assignment, the subjects for your still life photography are endless. Despite common belief, still life photography isn’t limited to just pictures of apples and grapes. Even super simple items like a few artfully arranged spools of thread can be interesting and attract attention. There are a couple of microstock sites like Shutterstock and iStock that have a high demand for all sorts of still life pictures from simple to complex.

People often times think of still life photography as a lot easier than other types of photography like sports or landscape photography. With still life pictures, you can arrange the objects exactly how you want them and have full control over the photo’s composition.

In other ways, good still life pictures are more challenging to capture. Because still lifes are taken up close, it’s easy to see imperfections on your subject that you would normally never see.

Despite its challenge, by using some basic photography skills and applying these tips, you can create stunning still life pictures with just a little practice.

Still Life Photography Lighting

Professional photographers usually use a soft box or a light box to shoot their still lifes. However this isn’t absolutely necessary as you will see in a moment, but it can be a big help. However, if you do want one, you can find a soft box online or you can easily make one using instructions you find online. The purpose of these lighting tools is to provide even light on the subject.

Another way to get this good quality light is to set up your shoot outside. A high overcast or bright sky can create a natural soft box effect without having any of the harsh shadows.

Composing Still Life Pictures

Arrange your objects in a pleasing composition. Use a classical composition technique such as “Rule of Thirds” or “Leading Lines” or “Frame within a Frame” to create a good composition. Artfully arrange the objects, and use your imagination. For example, if it’s a picture of a piece of cake, instead of including the entire table setting, place a gleaming, silver dessert fork upside down on the plate and remove a tiny bite from the cake.

Fill the Frame with Your Still Life Subject

Remember, the only thing that should be in your viewfinder or on your preview LCD screen is your composition. You need to remove any distractions or clutter from the background so you can have a clean and up close image. If you have a backdrop or background you don’t like don’t worry about it because it can be easily solved. The light box or soft box will solve this problem, but if you’re taking pictures outside and have a distracting background simply place a piece of white foam board behind your subject and you’ll be all set. If you want a sharp image, make sure to use macro mode or you can end up with a fuzzy image.

Look for a Good Angle and Start Shooting!

Rather than taking a picture from your head level, try holding the camera so that it’s at the same height as your subject. You should also try shooting from a variety of different angles.

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