Creative still life lighting

When winter arrives you may prefer to stay indoors and try some still life photography. Peter Bargh suggest a project that will deliver vividly colourful images

| Studio Lighting and Flash

Words and Pictures Peter Bargh

Creative still life lighting: creative lightingWhat you need
Camera loaded with ISO100 film
Two flashguns or tungsten light
Two flash stands or supports
Pieces of coloured paper
Sheet of patterned bathroom glass
Two sheets of black card
Flowers (fresh or dried)
Table top

1 The pieces of coloured card need to be cut up and arranged on the table top into a patchwork quilt style layout. This needs to be about four or five inch bigger than the area you intend to photograph

2 Support the patterned glass over the patchwork at a height of about six inches. Use books at each end to support if you don't have suitable clamps.

3 Lay the flowers in the centre of the glass and adjust the arrangement to suit the style you want. The simpler the better.

4 Set a flash up so that it will provide illumination for the patchwork pointing down at the table below the glass. And place a piece of black card over the top of the head so that no stay light bounces upwards towards the camera.

5 Roll the second piece of card so that it makes a cone over the head of the second flash and position this to one side above the flowers. This will provide the spotlight effect on the flower heads.

6 Set the camera up on a tripod over the set up. It helps here if you using a tripod like a Benbo where the arm can be set horizontally to slide the camera into position. If not you could handhold the camera but only when using flash. Tungsten light will be to slow and make camera shake unavoidable.

Creative still life lighting: creativelight copy7 If you have studio lighting switch on the modelling lights and adjust the positions to ensure the best lighting balance. Make sure the background light is set to deliver one stop less light than the top spot light. A flash meter would help here. Otherwise refer to the flashguns' exposure tables.

8 Focus on the flower petals and select an aperture that will throw the background out of focus f/2.7 or f/4 would be good, but make sure your flashes can cope with this. If not, use ND gels over the flash tubes to reduce their outputs.

9 If you're using a camera with a built in flash to trigger the other two, make sure that the head is diffused greatly to avoid head on flash exposure. Use white tissue paper folded to give thickness and provide enough diffusion to reduce the exposure and provide just enough light to trigger the other flashes.

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Goggz Avatar
Goggz 16 2.3k 72 Wales
Interesting idea Smile

Now whose bathroom window can I break...

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