Lighting still lifes

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by mark, Dec 1, 2004.

  1. mark

    mark Member

    Messages:
    5,264
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    I have an idea for a series of still lifes but have never set up or shot a still life. What are some of you folk's lighting set ups for still lifes. Just curious?
     
  2. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

    Messages:
    3,042
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Mark can you give us more to go on please.

    Are you shooting in B&W or Colour?
    Size of objects?
    What format and lens are you considering?
     
  3. rbarker

    rbarker Member

    Messages:
    2,222
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2004
    Location:
    Rio Rancho,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Also, what type of lighting gear do you have at your disposal? Hot lights? Studio strobes?

    As Tony suggested, knowing more about what you're doing, and what you have to do it with, will help flesh out better suggestions.
     
  4. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Messages:
    2,767
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Used to use Alien Bees and a white lightning strobe and would move them around until it was "just right." Now I use a big bank of windows and a white piece of poster board--they look better now.
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,943
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Still life includes a lot of things. Classical still life often looks best with simple window light or a big softbox that imitates window light. Product shots and food shots, though, are still life as well, and product photography can be really complex with multiple exposures for mixed lighting effects.

    I suppose I approach such subjects like portraits. Things are just inanimate people to me, I guess.
     
  6. wfwhitaker

    wfwhitaker Member

    Messages:
    566
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Location:
    Lobsta
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What sort of light do you see when you imagine the image?...
     
  7. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Messages:
    2,767
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    what David said...
     
  8. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

    Messages:
    3,221
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    S.E. New Yor
    I did product photography in a variety of studios for a couple of decades and enjoy shooting still lifes for creative purposes. My preference has always been to use hot lights unless there is a specific reason not to (motion or heat issues).
     
  9. mark

    mark Member

    Messages:
    5,264
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    I'll be using what I have. One 160WS strobe, reflectors, one 6x8 foot window. I usually use this set up for portraits of the family. I want to do this in color preferably transparency cuz I just can't read a color neg without a proof print.

    I'm trying to do a study in color. I am having a heck of a time putting it into words but there will be raw paint pigments, curled color paper and what ever starikes my fancy. I am not interested in shadows but will play with them.

    Is this something a polaroid test shot would be good for?
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,943
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Polaroid is useful, particularly for lighting ratios, but I find the color quite hard to match to any particular film. Maybe someone with more experience, though, might have a Polaroid/color film combo that's a good match.
     
  11. rbarker

    rbarker Member

    Messages:
    2,222
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2004
    Location:
    Rio Rancho,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with David - Polaroid is good for checking lighting and composition, but it takes a lot of experience to be able to translate its color rendition to what the film will look like. Although PolaPro 100 color is more accurate in its color rendition, it still doesn't precisely match any film palette that I'm aware of.

    As to the lighting, I'd suggest doing the layout first, and then start with just the window light, augmenting that with reflectors and the single strobe as needed. In addition to your regular reflectors, you might consider the use of small reflectors, stuck on the ends of dowels, to bounce light into nooks and crannies. These can be made of foam core, either straight or covered with foil. Small pieces of mirror can also come in handy for such purposes. The tough part is devising a means of holding and positioning the little micro-booms made of 1/4" dowel. Look at the "Hollywood Arms" at Matthews Grip Co. for design ideas.
     
  12. Stan. L-B

    Stan. L-B Member

    Messages:
    342
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2004
    Location:
    London & Fri
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    With still life I go out of my way to use ambient daylight with white and black reflectors, in or out of the studio.

    It may not be the norm, but it has sure worked well for me over the years, with all film types.

    Should I need to use additional, or another source of light, then it is always indirect.