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rwyoung
10-29-2007, 11:35 AM
By the way, what is the plural of still life: still lifes or still lives? Netither feels right to me...

Stills life? ;)

greybeard
10-29-2007, 05:05 PM
Diane:

Working in your kitchen or living room may not be as restrictive as you would think; if you can arrange your line of sight at least 45 degrees to a window, draping a bedsheet in front of it will give you a marvelous source of soft light. If memory serves, you are fairly far north, so winter light will be pretty low-angled and you can manipulate the "hardness" of direct light by using different fabrics; if you have a window facing south, this is great (north, not so much :) ) You may have an advantage in necessarily coming back to the same basic arrangement again and again; this helps enormously with the learning curve if it also suits your temperament.

Even if you don't use natural light, the one-light-and-a-reflector approach is also good for learning. Still-life is mostly about composition, so the fewer things you have to trip over (both literally and figuratively) the better off you will be.

Good luck!

colrehogan
10-30-2007, 08:34 AM
Diane:

Working in your kitchen or living room may not be as restrictive as you would think; if you can arrange your line of sight at least 45 degrees to a window, draping a bedsheet in front of it will give you a marvelous source of soft light. If memory serves, you are fairly far north, so winter light will be pretty low-angled and you can manipulate the "hardness" of direct light by using different fabrics; if you have a window facing south, this is great (north, not so much :) ) You may have an advantage in necessarily coming back to the same basic arrangement again and again; this helps enormously with the learning curve if it also suits your temperament.

Even if you don't use natural light, the one-light-and-a-reflector approach is also good for learning. Still-life is mostly about composition, so the fewer things you have to trip over (both literally and figuratively) the better off you will be.

Good luck!

Sounds like I better do some clearing out before I do this. I'm pretty restricted on where I can put this monster camera on it's stand. In fact, one lens can't be used with the camera on the stand. I found the only way to focus it was to put the camera on the kitchen table and focus toward the television set way across the room.

My biggest challenge will probably be to put up a background that hides what is already there.

TheFlyingCamera
10-30-2007, 09:57 AM
Diane- that's simple - a bedsheet and some pushpins. Or better, if you have some spare light stands, or can get some, put up two light stands and stretch a piece of rope between them, then hang the sheet over the rope. Easy-peasy.

Alex Hawley
10-30-2007, 10:09 AM
Often, I shoot mine outside. Of course the wind has to be pretty calm, but it allows me a lot more maneuver room than trying to do it all inside on the kitchen table. This one was a proof shot made on Polaroid 664. The backdrop was my spare darkcloth draped over the charcoal grill. The sun was up high and behind the subject so I got a good amount of back lighting with sufficient fill in the foreground.

I don't do any of the lighting ratio calculations. I just simply set up the subject and move it and some simple reflectors around until I like setup.

greybeard
10-30-2007, 03:15 PM
Diane- that's simple - a bedsheet and some pushpins. Or better, if you have some spare light stands, or can get some, put up two light stands and stretch a piece of rope between them, then hang the sheet over the rope. Easy-peasy.
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Yep--pushpins work well with a bedsheet, and if you invest in a few of those spring clamps that look like big metal clothespins with orange handles, you can hang a blanket from a doorframe, door, or whatever. The only problem with the light-stand-and-rope approach is that unless you use something rigid across the top (plastic sprinkler pipe, for example) the weight of the backdrop will try to tip the stands inward.

You are probably not talking about a large field of view (a couple or three feet?) so you can get away with setting up the camera first, looking to see what is in the field, and then just draping that area.

My current backdrop support is cup hooks into the ceiling joists, hanging a piece of electrical conduit (EMT, the thin-walled stuff) from loops of twine, and using the aforementioned clamps to attach a Velux blanket from Wal-mart. I originally thought that I would upgrade to plant-hanger hooks, but the setup works so well that I never bothered.

I've also used scraps of dollar-a-yard fabric from Wal-Mart to make "seamless" backdrops by taping it to the wall (careful of the paint...) and letting it drape out over a tabletop.

The possibilities are endless...

jimgalli
10-30-2007, 06:32 PM
I've got a curtain rod across my little corner so I can drape a dark cloth in either way for a black or a white background. Mine are focused so shallow there's no texture in the background in any case. I seem to use black the most.

rippo
12-20-2007, 06:41 PM
this thread got me inspired to shoot some still lifes (still lives? stills?) today. will develop the 4x5 film in a few hours. thanks all!

prado333
01-25-2008, 06:10 AM
i recomended you a sinar camera with a metering back it helps you a lot , i usually do still life with an 8x10 tachihara camera and is really dificult , the movements are extreme for the dof and then the bellows extension and to meter the fall of light due the extension. again if you can please buy a sinar , you enjoy a lot , work more effective , less faults .
only one complain , the price of a exc 8x10 sinar p2 mb it could be more than 4000usd,

panastasia
02-11-2008, 07:57 AM
Diane:


Even if you don't use natural light, the one-light-and-a-reflector approach is also good for learning. Still-life is mostly about composition, so the fewer things you have to trip over (both literally and figuratively) the better off you will be.
Good luck!

I agree with what greybeard is describing.

After studying lighting technique from many sources and collecting a wide assortment studio lighting equipment and accessories, I learned that a simple lighting technique gives a more natural look to the subject. It also prevents the unnatural starry-eyed look of more than one catch-light in portraits.

Aside from my personal preferences for subjects, I've done extensive tabletop product photography and was most satisfied with the single light source and reflector approach. Modifying the light quality (mostly soft) was the easy part of the process. Occasionally, a little spot lighting was needed for further emphasis of a certain subject feature.

I'm using florescent lighting more (not for color), but the output is not very intense (rather dim) unless you use many and that requires more space.

nze
02-11-2008, 09:24 AM
For all my still life I only use one light , with sometime a reflection system. sometime the lighting is just a 60w tungsten light.
you can see some example here http://http://flickr.com/photos/chris_nze/sets/72157594426358498/http://flickr.com/photos/chris_nze/sets/72157594426358498/