Still Life Photography Tips And Techniques Part 6, The Still Life Photography Lighting Setup
Today’s still life photography tips and techniques article concerns the still life photography lighting setup. Lighting in any photo genre is vital but in still life photos it is an amazing learning opportunity!
In landscape photography, there isn’t much we can learn about how to set up and control light. We generally have to work with what is there and about the only control we have is the time of day.
In Portrait photography, we have all the lighting options – main light, fill light, Background light, hair light, accent lights and so on… BUT, we are restricted on the amount of time we can take! If we tweak and adjust too long, our subject will get tired of waiting and leave.
But with still life photos, we can take as long as we want! As in the Composition arrangement, one of the main benefits of the still life photography lighting setup is that we can take as long as we want. We can tweak and fiddle until it is perfect!
Studio lighting equipment can get expensive in a hurry – so we try to work with as few lights as possible and employ a judicious amount of reflectors. With still life photos, we can take our sweet time setting up the lighting and mirrors, white cards and so on until we have totally and completely learned how to work with a minimal lighting investment.
In no time, this knowledge is going to spill over into your portrait work. Soon you will be able to have a five light set – using one light! And no one will know the difference!
For those of us that don’t have any studio lights, we can put our set next to a window and use the sun!
I can’t over stress how important still life photography is to mastering lighting.
In portrait photos, we have six basic lighting setups – all of them designed to minimize flaws and accent the good features of our subject. In landscape photography we are mostly concerned with the directionality and color of the light.
All of these concerns will come into play in a still life shot. You not only can use directionality and color to beautify your subject, but to direct the viewer’s attention to what we want them to see and not see (like in portraits).
One cardinal rule in a still life photography lighting setup is that the light can’t be boring. The light can even be thought of as an additional element in your composition!
Use side lighting to accent texture and shadow. BTW – it’s the shadows that will make your photo look three dimensional and come to life.
Use colored gels on your light to accent and harmonize. Use rays of light to direct the eye to various compositional elements. Whatever you do, avoid using your on Camera Flash. Straight on – harsh light will ruin your masterpiece.
For today’s still life photography tips and techniques assignment, go through your favorite photo books and magazines and pick out ten different still life photos that are appealing to you. Study the still life photography lighting setup and try to determine how many lights were used, where they were positioned and most importantly, WHY? Could you improve the photo?
If this daily tip was a nice review of what you already knew – GREAT! If it taught you something – you need my “On Target Photo Training” course. All of it, right now!
P.S. I can open the door, but YOU have to walk through!