Still Lifes and Natural Light

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Alex Hawley, Aug 6, 2005.

  1. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Just wondering about what people prefer when shooting still lifes in natural light. Strong direct sun or a shadowed, indirectly lit area?
     
  2. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Alex, It would depend on what I was shooting and what I wished to convey.
     
  3. Davec101

    Davec101 Member

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    I have just started shooting a series of still life images ( I have a few in my gallery) and I am using natural light with large reflector. At the moment I am deciding, like you, which is the best look for the image, either as you suggest ‘Strong direct sun or a shadowed, indirectly lit area’. My images have generally been using direct sunlight with a bit a reflector in the shadow areas. Initially I am shooting this way to see what the best aperture to use, how much light I need to get everything pin sharp etc… and also to build on a technique so that I can become more proficient at taking such images.

    So really I am just testing things out so that I can get confident with my newish view camera. A photographer who has given me much inspiration is a chap from New York, now based in New Orleans called David Halliday, I was lucky enough to meet him at a private view of his work 2 months ago in London and was blown away by his still life images.

    Some of his work can be seen at the following links :

    http://www.sailorsvalentinegallery.com/Halliday_Peaches.htm

    http://www.sailorsvalentinegallery.com/Halliday_CanteloupeandSnail.htm

    http://www.sailorsvalentinegallery.com/Halliday_Artichoke.htm

    As I posted on another thread, I would be really interested to find out what sort of lighting set up he is using to achieve the look he has done. Some of which come out of the darkness and still have great tone. This could also be meticulous burning & dodging in the dark room but I really don’t know.

    Any thoughts?
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Both, but I think it's going to depend on the kind of light that you ordinarily get and the orientation of your windows. We've got a large window facing southwest, so the light is usually most interesting around sunset, but there's also fairly consistent indirect light throughout the day. I like to leave things set up and watch the light change.
     
  5. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    YES!
     
  6. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    I have a "sky lite" (4ft by 8 ft.) in the dining room that I really enjoy using. The light constantly seems to be in a state of change. Much like David, I like to leave a "set up" up for a bit to see the changes in lighting as it occurs. Somehow or why, my wife is not greatly enamored with set ups that stay around for more than a day or so.

    I am able to control to a degree the light coming in from the North glass patio doors with a panneled curtain. Available fairly soft light is my favorite, but I do enjoy playing with harsh (bright sunlight) and the games it plays bouncing and reflecting off different surfaces. I will use "gobo's", reflector cards, screens, mirrors, black velvet to subtract light etc. to get
    the effect the way I want it. I also enjoy using "found light" I suppose it is related or kin to "Available" but I call it found, and do nothing to change it.
    No reflectors or tinkering, kind of like Ansel's ''Moonrise over Hernandez" I just try to get it on film the same way it is presented to me.

    I can and do use artificial light on ocassion, but somehow that feels like I am cheating my self of the challenge of doing "still life" with natural light sources. Love cloudy days!
     
  7. Digidurst

    Digidurst Subscriber

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    My husband and I bought some new living room furniture last month but as a result of a mix-up at the distribution center, we were 'furniturelss' for 4 days (our old stuff was donated to Good Will). I had a huge room with nothing in it but beautiful, diffused light. So, like any self-respecting photographer, I set up a temporary studio. My poor husband was nervous... I think he assumed that since the light was sooo good, I'd just forego the furniture altogether. LOL Spouses are so funny!
     
  8. hortense

    hortense Member

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    David, I feel David Halliday's images are too flat and, therefore not a good example.
     
  9. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Thanks for all the input. It's certainly helped even though my question was a little ambiguous. Halliday's work is stunning and instructive to look at. Several members contributed via private message which I found very thoughtful and very good advice. This is what I like about APUG; never a dumb question.
     
  10. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    I often shoot still lives (or is it "lifes"?) in my living room which gets no direct sunlight. I have wood blinds on all the windows so I can vary the amount of light coming in. The light is very diffused and I have few shadows. I always use a tripod and mirror-up on my cameras, so long exposures don't bother me.
     
  11. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I like them both. I also prefer morning light.

    To diffuse I simply use a thin curtin.

    I also like to use a mirror for a reflector.
     
  12. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Thanks Ara and John. Good ideas.
     
  13. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    99% of the time I use diffused light; daylight or flash.