Save 69% on inPixio Photo Studio 11 Ultimate (discount applied at checkout)

The Impossible Project


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
...Read More

The Impossible Project

5 Apr 2021 10:13AM   Views : 352 Unique : 248


You may have heard of the work to revive the defunct Polaroid processes, but I need to tell you that it’s a long-standing British tradition for Bank Holidays… The essence is to begin a large project in the house or garden, without any significant planning. Those of a political turn of mind may have examples on a larger stage…

Is there a photographic equivalent that I can suggest for you – preferably, something that is either a realistic job to complete today, or with a realistic prospect of completing before lockdown ends? Well…
I’ve done more close-up and still life pictures since this time last year than in the whole of my life before, and I’ve encouraged others to do the same. Often, though, I think that readers have thought that ‘it’s all very well, but I haven’t got anywhere I can do that!’


So today’s project is to identify part of your living space that you can turn into a small still life studio, and can take pictures in quickly and easily before returning it to its original state and purpose. For me, this is going to be the part of the kitchen where the kettle is – so I have a vested interest in restoring normality before very long.

Part two will come tomorrow, and there will be two pictures, taken in different lighting conditions and at different times during today, and I will explain what I do and how well it works. Please note that while I’ve posted two or three ‘found’ still life images from the area, these were shots of what was there anyway: this project is about making something entirely different.

And no, I haven’t tried it. I do know that it will involve a camera on a tripod, a sheet of cardboard, and some cutlery as subject matter. Though I’m not actually planning to do it all without telling Mrs D.



dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1832 England
5 Apr 2021 10:15AM
I've very deliberately taken the pictures with a point-and-shoot compact with flash - I'm hoping this will contrast with the much more polished images I plan to post with part two of the Project tomorrow.

Also to note - I haven't tried a dry run: I have relied on my ability to envisage problems, and possibly to improvise solutions during the day...
Chrism8 14 977 28 England
5 Apr 2021 10:35AM
Morning John

I have such a space, easily converted, takes longer to drag all the kit down the stairs Grin this was a shoot for Wickes web site.


5 Apr 2021 11:35AM
It's time you did something about that overhead cupboard door, John. There's a project for you. Or maybe just move the kettle.Wink
saltireblue Plus
10 11.8k 75 Norway
5 Apr 2021 11:49AM

Quote:It's time you did something about that overhead cupboard door, John. There's a project for you. Or maybe just move the kettle.Wink

chase Plus
15 2.1k 562 England
5 Apr 2021 11:56AM
Great project John and I wish you well Smile
Better than cardboard is wallpaper backing paper, cheap as chips, can be fixed down with sticky stuff or something nice and heavy, makes one of those nice curvy things. Then just roll it back up when you are done...evidence removed from the scene.
Or you can use a roll of wallpaper, just use the plain back instead of the front Wink
Garages are good spaces too.
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1832 England
5 Apr 2021 11:56AM
I believe Mrs D has plans for a complete new set of cupboard doors... Unfortunately, there is nowhere in the kitchen with a socket without cupboards above that is accessible and convenient.

That's a fine setup, Chris, with daylight available, too. Flash doesn't figure in my plans, though...
saltireblue Plus
10 11.8k 75 Norway
5 Apr 2021 12:20PM
I am fortunate in that we have a large room downstairs which is a combined tv-lounge (man cave), spare bedroom for when we have guests and home-studio. I have backgrounds hanging from the ceiling and a permanent table set-up for macro and similar. I am therefore spared the wrath of mrs.salty for taking over the kitchen or lounge upstairs...

Chrism8 14 977 28 England
5 Apr 2021 12:43PM
Thanks John

Flash was needed on this occasion as I needed to produce the product on a plain white bg, and wanted to get it as right as poss in camera, just a touch of post processing in PS was needed.

By closing the blinds / doors I can reduce the daylight dramatically without having to wait until its dark outside, below is an example shot with just 2 x black floor tiles 3 second exposure F8 and 100 ISO


dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1832 England
5 Apr 2021 12:48PM
In the words of one of the Four Yorkshiremen, 'Luxury!'
philtaylorphoto 19 334 2
5 Apr 2021 1:23PM
Funnily enough I have just written a piece for John on a long running campaign of PR shots largely done on my kitchen table with a light tent and 2 strobes. No light modifiers, as there isn't room.

I used to work in tight corners in commercial kitchens with that and a folding reflector.
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1832 England
5 Apr 2021 2:48PM
It's going to be a busy week...
dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 761 England
5 Apr 2021 3:51PM
There's a corner of the kitchen I've used before, and intend to again later today, it's fine for small arrangements, and fine for LED sources (I have used flash before). Quick to set up and remove. I have a light cube for larger set ups which sits well on the dining table or in the garage depending on ambient temperature.
philtaylorphoto 19 334 2
5 Apr 2021 4:48PM
I reckon it's an easy job with a bit of DIY.. Attach some cup hooks to the underside of the cabinets, then see a couple of squares of material into squares, with a length of bamboo cane acting as curtain poles. You could make them from shower curtain materials of different density, and black to absorb light. At the back the cabinet, you could have a similar arrangement to make a scoop. Once the shops open you could get different fabrics.

Lighting? You could manage with two matched colour temp table lamps or strobes on small table top tripods or a cheap knock off magic arm under the cabinets screwed into place.

Top lighting would be say, with strips of LEDs in switchable arrays or quite simply using the white underside as a bounce surface. The white side curtains should help fill in most shadows.
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1832 England
5 Apr 2021 5:50PM
It's interesting that all the responses so far have been from people who have their own setups... I was hoping to spark a reaction from someone who has always said 'I wish I could do still life, but...'

But there's time yet!

I already have the card, Janet - so it's more accessible than wallpaper - which, around here, tends to be of the textured variety, as exhibited in so many of my pictures, especially heavily sidelit nudes on a bed. My ideal wall is plain white, with either no visible texture, or reasonably smooth plasterwork, painted white.
philtaylorphoto 19 334 2
5 Apr 2021 5:54PM
I was feeling inspired by the kitchen roll holder. Cut down rolls to size?
JuBarney Plus
9 33 5 United Kingdom
5 Apr 2021 6:06PM
Well our kitchen is out of the question as I would have to scrub for a week to make it shine like yours! In fact that probably applies to the whole house Sad
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1832 England
5 Apr 2021 9:11PM
Ju, if you could only see my office... And I admit to spending time cleaning under where the kettle stands - it needed it very badly!

More seriously, if you look at Janet's (chase's) still life pictures, she treasures real cobwebs and grime. A pristine background is good for product shots - but something that's genuinely weathered wins hands down for character.
philtaylorphoto 19 334 2
5 Apr 2021 9:16PM
I know what you mean about character. Serious food photographers have stacks of arty surfaces.

I once got paid by Time Out to do pics of Northern Irish restaurants. It was a long way to go, but everyone else was scared back then. One place in Belfast had bright yellow Formica table tops, and that just made it. 2 hours on interiors, andxa salad on a table was the only thing to make the cut.

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.