My Indoor Photography Project

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14,154
Name
Dave
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#1
As the weather has been up and down lately I have been getting in to Still Life shots, it is a subject that I really do like to try and get right. It`s all new to me but I like to try and learn as I go on, it would be nice if any folk who do Still Life to give me any tips at all plus most of my images are with just natural light coming through my lounge window. All images will be taken with all the cameras and lenses in my signature.


Pocket Watch
by Dave, on Flickr

18
by Dave, on Flickr

Pocket Watch
by Dave, on Flickr

Black Dragon
by Dave, on Flickr
 

TheBigYin

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Mark
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#5
it's really nice of you to say that Dave... I wouldn't say great, but competent/workmanlike at least...

I guess a good place to start is to link to this thread, kinda details some of my faltering steps along the path...

https://www.talkphotography.co.uk/threads/still-life-something-of-a-learning-curve.649061/


I think you commented in there originally, but the "writeup" of how things were constructed is probably more use than the pictures...

Any Tips...

1 - use the camera like an artists easel. Decide on where you're going to view from, put the camera on the tripod, use liveview (or, shadow the display onto a laptop / monitor / TV - bigger the better, as you're looking for miniscule details and defects that go unnoticed through the viewfinder, but are glaring when you print a metre across...

2 - patience. Some of those pictures in my thread were a month in the making, faffing around, moving something left, right, left again, raising the lighting, dropping it, just experimenting - it's a fascinating way of actually LEARNING to light things - or, more honestly understanding how to play light over things to make them look how you want - not how they do.

3 - find a subject that fascinates you - as above - you're going to be staring at it for hours/days on end - it might as well be something that floats your boat.

4 - i'd start with shooting things with a natural background rather than jumping straight into the black background stuff - it's really hard to pull off well, because you spend so much time NOT lighting some things to get the black background, that you compromise the light on the "objects".

5 - and I realise this isn't going to be popular with most of the forum philistines who are really only interested in buying the latest camera/lens - but still life is ART not craft. Do some research on what you want to shoot - refer to "conventional" art from history and learn what worked in terms of arrangement, composition, lighting, perspective - like small items look better in odd numbered groups, so 3s and 5s. not 4's - that kind of thing.

6 - if you go for a "group" shot - make sure that the items in the group have a reason to be in the shot. For example, in a shot with a fruit-bowl in the background - you could have a pen-knife and half peeled apple on the table before it, and a book to the side on making chutneys. You wouldn't have a bowl of fruit, with a haynes manual and a pair of pliers in the forground... Okay, that's an exageration - but the number of time's i've seen a collection of veg in a trug, left on a cutting board, and I've thought "well - that's going to be a bloody awful meal if they put all that into it" because there was one vegetable that really wouldn't hang together in ANY recipe with the others...

7 - sketch out your idea before even thinking where to get the "props" - if you can't make it work coherently in the sketch, then simplify it until you can. The perfect still life (even the ridiculously ornate ones i've posted at times) is the one where not a single item can be removed from it without detracting from the overall. if in doubt, subtract rather than add.

My approach to any of these pictures is to think of them as almost a single frame from a short film - I want that single frame to tell the story - that way the person looking at the image will hoepfully also look at it and see more than just an instant in time, and they could just be transported into that story that was in my head...

It's addictive, and frustrating, and irritating, and massively massively satisfying when it finally works...

have a think, come up with some ideas, and get stuck in - I look forward to seeing them - and, don't be afraid to ask on here for suggestions as to how to change / improve things
 
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Fuji Dave
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Dave
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#6
Thank you very much for taking the time to give me these tips Mark, subjects I like are Egyptian or my Pocket Watches that I like to try and do. We have a great old flea market here in town that I might have a look at too, I remember I did comment on your thread and thank you for putting the link in here as I will have another look. I know what you mean about taking the time to move things about too, as on one of the pocket watch images I kept moving it about for 10 minutes till I was happy with it.. Thank you again and I look forward to getting advice on this thread once I start it up now.
 
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Ian
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#8
Still Life is something my students find hardest to pull off. And I think it's because there's no excuses as you have complete control.

There's something weird going on in the blacks on "18" (lower left corner), the 2 orchids and the giraffe (bottom edge) which I find distracting which is why I prefer the pocket watches - I think you've done a grand job with those.

Also paging @Andysnap who I know has had a play around with things like this.
 
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#9
The problem I always see with this type of attempt is there is no story, no reasoning, it’s always, a let’s grab something at hand and shoot it, and that always comes across in the image. Give yourself a goal, pretend magazine cover or article for example, imagine a story behind the image then plan and shoot, a good shot of your watch (not sure if it is a watch) for example could take a good few hours to prep, shoot, post, using multiple techniques such as stacking, multiple images to get everything correct, so you light for the glass, then adjust and light for the strap and so on.
 
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Fuji Dave
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Dave
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#10
OOooh Egyptian - now that's got me thinking...

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bastet-E...732153?hash=item3b3f0aa2f9:g:8pIAAOSwXSZd8oIr

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/EGYPTIAN...596763?hash=item1cddf04a9b:g:IUsAAOSwEY1d1YMM

a sandstone flag to put them one, some sand and a couple of old bandages and you're laughing....

Many years ago my father went to a London Auction and bid for two Egyptian Busts and gave the to me, as we had a holiday and went to the Valley of the Kings when I was young and fell in love with Egyptian things so over 35 years I have quite a collect of things and a 1937 book of it too.
 
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Fuji Dave
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Dave
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#11
Still Life is something my students find hardest to pull off. And I think it's because there's no excuses as you have complete control.

There's something weird going on in the blacks on "18" (lower left corner), the 2 orchids and the giraffe (bottom edge) which I find distracting which is why I prefer the pocket watches - I think you've done a grand job with those.

Also paging @Andysnap who I know has had a play around with things like this.

Thank you Ian for the nice words, if I`m truthful on the pocket watch images I tend to take more time moving them about and then keep looking before I take a shot where as the others are rushed and show for it too.
 
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Fuji Dave
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Dave
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#12
The problem I always see with this type of attempt is there is no story, no reasoning, it’s always, a let’s grab something at hand and shoot it, and that always comes across in the image. Give yourself a goal, pretend magazine cover or article for example, imagine a story behind the image then plan and shoot, a good shot of your watch (not sure if it is a watch) for example could take a good few hours to prep, shoot, post, using multiple techniques such as stacking, multiple images to get everything correct, so you light for the glass, then adjust and light for the strap and so on.

Thank you too for the advice and tips, it will be a learning curve for me this Still Life but I know over time and not rushing will benefit me getting the image just how I like it to be.
 
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Fuji Dave
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Dave
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#13
So it looks like I will be learning how to do a lot of indoor photography, this is a glass giraffe placed on two pieces of black foam card and natural light coming through the lounge window.

Family Wander
by Dave, on Flickr
 
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