Still life photographs

Still life photography can be rewarding in more ways than just ending up with a pleasing image. Taking still life photographs calls for patience and an eye for a good composition and theme. Still life are among the best of visual exercises. Innumerable famous painters, past and present, have turned to the still life at some time. Much of their work has in turn inspired photographers.

Almost any object can form part of a still life. There may be a collection of things with a particular link for example, objects brought back from visits to a particular country. Such a collection could be interesting simply because everything came from that place. But everyday objects from home and around can be made into an equally satisfactory assemblage. When positioning the items, always check the view through the camera. When photographing flowers, which can wilt, or other fragile objects, adds them to the arrangement last.

Equally, it is vital to pay attention to lighting. This conveys mood. A still life can be photographed in day light, but shooting indoors gives far better control of lighting. There is no need for an elaborate studio or lots of lights; many pictures can be taken with a single light and a few reflectors and diffusers. A tiny adjustment of one of these, or of the position of an object, can make a great difference to the way a shadow falls and change the effect.

The shot will be taken from quite close in, probably using a standard lens or a medium telephoto. Every little detail will show up a crease in a tablecloth, dust on a plate.

Undoubtedly the best camera to sue for such work is a medium or large format one such as 5x4; but adequate results can be obtained on 35mm if the composition is strong.

More about camera shooting techniques

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