Great question and very interesting responses. There might be some ideas for you in a course I am taking this term. The course is called Illustration/Advertising Photography at the University of Akron. The primary objective is to teach strobe lighting in still life work. There is also an intro course where hot lights are used for still life. Two exceptions are off site architectural shot and an executive portrait.

We have access to 1000 watt second White Lightnings on tripods with umbrellas and 2400 ws Speedotrons with umbrellas or 3 foot and 6 foot soft boxes on booms. The school has two large studios and the equipment may be signed out as long as it is back for the two courses where they are used.

Half the subjects must be shot with 4x5s using Polaroid and then color transparencies. Half the subjects are shot with digital (Forgive me). The school has Calumets and Canon Rebel xti to use or bring your own. You can imagine that the half and half requirement presents very interesting challenges in perspective and depth of field control. I could have used my 8x10, but the cost for essentially practice work seemed prohibitive. If interested I think you could replicate the challenges by using 8x10 and 35mm. I am using Velvia 100 and Polaroid 54.

We work in two person teams or as a group for critique and idea sessions. I have been able to help some with view camera movements. I do not have the Photoshop prerequisite so most of the class has helped me there. As a 67 year retiree I am having a ball with my 22 year old, blond team mate, who teaches cheerleading and dance on the side. God is Good.

Subjects and my choices:
Architectural Exterior – a new high price off campus condo
Jewelry – An 1870s Dandy’s gold pocket watch with hunter case and sweep stop watch functions.
Luminescent Products. There must be a working light within the subject. – a lighted magnifier set up on the product literature.
Tools of the Trade- a stainless dial caliper on white textured paper ala Walker Evans “The common Tools”
Raw Materials- A multi part 1/43d model kit, the finished model, glue, paint, instructions in French and tools. Many of the young ladies shot food preparation with the raw materials and finished meal. Clean up was quite tasty.
Long stem flower or macro blossom- Our local florist made some wonderful suggestions and had super fresh flowers for me the day of the shoot. I did two shoots here, one film, one digital.
Executive office environmental- This is a difficult request for a college kid to make the arrangements. For me it was hard because most of my old customers are also retired and have thrown away their suits. A local Deardoff V8 shooting friend helped me out. I did a head shot and we plan an environmental portrait.
Retail Fashion- I needed a new pair of hiking boots anyway.
Glass Containers- Three different glass Bugatti car models. They weren’t containers, but the Professor is a car nut and let me use them.
Two additional subjects drawn from the above with different set ups.- as mentioned above

For a final we have to make a Power Point presentation of our work. All film has to be scanned to be incorporated in what becomes a portfolio. Diane, I hope there are some ideas for you here.

John Powers