Still Life

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by ronlamarsh, Jul 4, 2006.

  1. ronlamarsh

    ronlamarsh Member

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    don't know if this is the proper forum for this but here goes. I am working on doing a collection of 5x7 contact prints from POP of still life. My composition seems to suck(pardon the term) on anything other than flowers and then too I miss the boat about half of the time.
    Anybody out there doing a lot of still life? Got any tried and true techniques? i.e. simple single objects, groupings of similiar items etc.
     
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Look at the Victorians. A lot of brilliant still lifes.

    Take a look too at the gallery at www.rogerandfrances.com, for ideas about what to do and (if you don't like it) what not to do.

    Cheers

    Roger
     
  3. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    I'm a novice, and am also looking for advise. I've spent days taking pictures of same subject, and always seems like room for improvement, or something not quite right. It may be the amount of control you have over all aspects of the image that makes perfection seem achievable. I use up to 3 tungsten flood lights on dimmers so I can see the light effects as I compose the image. If I had the money, I'd use Polaroid film for composing (I spend alot of time developing film during session just to see if going in right direction).
     
  4. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

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    Ron, Doug, I made my living for 25 years shooting still life, the best advice i have for besides finding a great still life photographer to assist is to look at really good still lifes and study them. Carefully look at them and analyze the composition, analyze the lighting. It's amazing what you can learn from really looking at good photographs.

    As for flowers, it's the most trite and over done still life in my opinion. Very few people shooting flowers bring anything new to the subject, be it in B&W or color. On the other hand flowers are one of the easiest sales for galleries as they are so popular as home decoration. I have heard many galleries refer to them as "wallpaper". Maybe one of the problems that you are having is that the subject matter is so familar to you that you can't do anything to make an image of them that excites you.

    You can see a few B&W still lifes of mine at www.kosoff.com
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2006
  5. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    I too fail more often than not with still lifes. one thing that I've found to help is to set several up in different locations oround the house. different lighting situations then forget about them. Let them sit, move things when the whim hits and watch the different lighting of the times of day.You would be amazed at what a half an eye sees rather than your full full frustrated attention.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Many of the classic Dutch still lifes have a real sense of motion to them. There was a photographer some years ago who tried to reproduce the effect and found he had to use all sorts of hidden props and supports that would be retouched out later, because there were grapes sliding off tables, oranges rolling away, blood dripping, and other objects in impossible positions.
     
  7. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    Brian,

    Your still lifes are quite impressive....landscapes are also outstanding...thanks
     
  8. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've seen some of these prints, and they are outstanding. He does them in multi-layer gum--something like six or seven layers.
     
  10. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    Pick up a copy of Jan Groover's book on Tabletop Still-Life Photography which I think was published by the Smithsonian. Stare at those compositions and soak in the text.

    In that book she talks about the characteristics of the objects she photographs. I don't have my copy handy, but, for example, she will discuss the difference between photographing an apple and a pear. To paraphrase her: an apple will just sit there. It can't do anything else. A pear can sit there or lie down, and depending on which way it lies down, it can do perspective real fast.

    Figure out what it is about the object that you find interesting. If you can't articulate it, perhaps it would be best to find some other object to photograph. Once you know about its "thingness", then you can work on the compositions and lighting.

    Pears have personality. Put two of them in the same space and they are either attending to or ignoring each other. One might be looking with disgust or pity at the other which has fallen down. Three of them together will find two of them whispering to each other about the third. Four of them become a gang.

    Joe
     
  11. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    My wife does still lifes. She paints them and photographs them as well. Here's one of here most recent photographic pieces (Mamiya C220)...there'll be more to come from the local farmer's market.

    I, on the other hand, can't seem to do anything nearly as competent....and boy have I tried!! There's certainly a knack to it.
     

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  12. donbga

    donbga Member

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    An interesting side note about this portfolio is that these were all printed by Keith Taylor, an occasional poster here on APUG.
     
  13. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Woah. Great work !
     
  14. SeamusARyan

    SeamusARyan Member

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    Hi Doug

    a couple of things, striving for perfection is a noble course but if it doesn't seem to be working for you have you tried parring things back to basics and starting again. I shoot all of my work on Polaroid, the 20x24 (shells mostly) and 10x8 (Colour shells) were shot by necessity with one flash with a softbox but the rest of my work is shoot using natural day light with either a black or white card for a background and sometimes a white card on the side for fill if needed. I don't have a darkroom so shoot type 55 which does pretty much what you want, a positive for composing and an instantly developed neg for subsequently printing from.

    I know flowers have been done to death but hey so have landscapes (choose your own genre) etc. I believe it is what you bring to your chosen subject that matters and not the subject itself.

    Joe loved your piece about the pears

    enjoy and be well

    Seamus
    www.seamusryan.com