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 :
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.