Still Life

The Theme for round three of the Digital Lightroom photography competition is Still Life.  The total opposite of the last round you might say, but what is a Still Life image?

It is often viewed as a technical form of photography where many aspects come together to form an image, either constructed or found. Composition, lighting and exposure are critical to give your image the textures and tonal quality to make it more than just a “record shot” of an object or scene.

So isn’t this just about bowls of fruit carefully arranged?

No.  I did a google image search of “Still Life Photography” and the following were the first few images found:-

Still Life

Still life subject matter can be as wide as your imagination – it can be everyday objects found and captured or arranged for the sole purpose of creating the image.

One of the key things to consider is how you are going to light the subject.  Think about natural and artificial light, and angle of the light source.  The choice of angle can dramatically change the end result.  For studio, that is indoor or constructed still life, you can simply reposition your light sources to create the desired result.  For outdoor scenes or objects, the light source is fixed so move yourself around the object to find the best light direction.

You might want to consider the following different angles of light and the impact they can have on your image:

Front light – flattens the image, and creates a shadow on the background – beware reflective surfaces causing lens flares.

Overhead light – gives a feeling of weight and a natural image as the direction is similar to natural sunlight

Side light – commonly used to enhance shape and texture of the object, ideal for picking out the rough surface of an object

Back light – great for transparent objects and to lift the subject from the background

Reflected light – use reflectors or bounce a flash off a white wall or ceiling to soften the result

Another important consideration is the background.  A still life subject should be immediately obvious in the image and not lost in a busy background.  For studio images, this can be controlled by the use of a plain wall, sheet or a light tent if you have one.  For outdoor scenes careful composition and control of depth of field may be your only aids.

It’s important to note, your studio can be your dining room table covered with a piece of black or white cloth and your light source, just a table lamp.  It doesn’t have to be complicated to get some amazing results.

The theme of Still Life is probably easier than the movement and motion theme of the last round, as you can at least construct your image in your own time and try different approaches.  Remember to try different lighting and think about composition, and enjoy the challenge. Looking forward to seeing the entries for this round.

Adrian Pym

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Filed under Competition, Photography, Tips & Tricks

15 responses to “Still Life

  1. Reblogged this on Scott Marshall Photography (@skm1963) and commented:
    SO now on to our third competition – you know the routine by now and we deliver on top prizes as well as sharing you excellent work with your peers…… Scott Marshall is a Digital Lightroom Panelist

  2. I was disappointed when the underlined types of light weren’t links. Could you link to pictures that show these types of lighting so we can all see?


    Nice post Adrian!

  4. Pingback: Digital Lightroom Contest – Still Life | Disperser Tracks


    Voting..YES !!!!

  6. Great description… now to think of something 🙂

  7. I’ve given it a go for the first time, thanks for a brilliant idea!

  8. Pingback: Still Life – The Concepts Series, Part V(b) | Disperser Tracks

  9. Pingback: Still Life – The Concepts Series, Part V | Disperser Tracks

  10. Pingback: Still Life – The Concepts Series, Part I | Disperser Tracks

  11. Pingback: Still Life – The Concepts Series, Part V(b) – Disperser Tracks

  12. Pingback: Still Life – The Concepts Series, Part V – Disperser Tracks

  13. Pingback: Still Life – The Concepts Series, Part I – Disperser Tracks

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