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Thread: Still Life Lighting

  1. #21

    Join Date
    Oct 2001
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    Paris, France
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    251

    Re: Still Life Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold_4074 View Post
    Christopher,

    I am sure that you missed the point I was trying to make. That is a lovely image that you posted; can you try it again with the pepper rotated a bit counterclockwise so that the mass is more centered above its resting place.....but do it tonight at about 10 PM your time?
    Harold,

    I'm sorry that you've chosen to respond sarcastically to a point I gave in a friendly spirit. You've successfully gotten me out of that spirit, but I have no intention of getting into a flame with you because I want the OP to get his answer. Therefore, I probably won't be responding to any further of your replies.

    What I'm simply trying to get across to the OP that he can —apparently contrary to your opinion— very successfully use window light as a viable option for his still life photography. Many photographers throughout the history of photography —much better than either you or I— have already proven that, time and time again, so it's really even ridiculous to argue the point (I cite Edward Weston as an example, but you would certainly also find fault in his work and advise him to turn his pepper to your satisfaction).

    You seem to be obsessed with artificial light as an absolute necessity —and the only solution— for this type of photography and on this point we indeed disagree. Once again (more for the OP and others reading this than you, since it seems to fall on deaf ears): "Window light" does not necessarily equate to "direct sunlight". And 'changing light' is proportionally a tiny issue when the exposure is super long. In fact, dim, even light is preferable.

    In fact, here's a big tip for you, Harold, since you seem to enjoy sarcasm: In case you ever dare to use window light for a still life and run into that horrid, direct sunlight: Wait a while! Yes! I know you won't believe this, Harold, but sunlight. actually. moves! —as you, yourself, keep pointing out. Funny you never put that fact to good use.

    On this last point, thanks anyway for your "advice", but that pepper was long ago eaten. Its position in the image was very carefully determined after days worth of consideration, based upon its best aesthetic profile. Perhaps you're not familiar with doing this. I guess your approach is to just plop an object down and shoot it based on its mass being centered over its resting place. OK, whatever. Everyone has their own approach. It would be stupid of me to criticize yours, as it was of you to criticize mine. You are correct, however, in inferring that I could have done a much better job on the image.

    For example, that highlight bugs me, too, and not even the pyro development could calm it enough; the exposure time was 90 minutes and I could have stayed in my little make-shift studio during all that time, waving a dodging tool over the highlight area, just to satisfy some cretin years later, or even you. However, I decided to go out and have a coffee while the light did its magic on the film. Call me lazy. In any case, I'm happy to say that that image sells well. And that thought puts me back in a friendlier mood.

    Very sincerely

  2. #22

    Join Date
    May 2015
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    SooooCal/LA USA
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    998

    Re: Still Life Lighting

    Well, there's something classic about window light, and artists have been using north light for centuries, but the OP's school assignment is to use artificial light for the course project... But for commercial photography, where the needs are to be repeatable and consistent, artificial is it, as it can be dark or light outside, sunny/cloudy/rainy outside, any time of day, and in your dark, (lit) studio, it does not matter... :-)

    Steve K

  3. #23
    John Olsen
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Whidbey Island, WA
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    502

    Re: Still Life Lighting

    I've enjoyed the discussion above and some fine images have been shared. I'd only like to add that back in the dark ages Kodak put out teaching books like "Professional Photographic Illustration Techniques" with diagrams and helpful info. Search for them in used book stores or on the shelves of doddering old photographers.

    As for the original question of constant versus strobe light, there are times when they can be combined. For example, your two strobes can be supplemented by window or flood light fill, especially if the color difference will not be a problem. Or you can add color filters to the floods to get the same color temperature as in the strobes. A flood light fill in the background might even add a nice color (the cab lite in the image below is a small flood in a strobe lit truck).

    Click image for larger version. 

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    John O

  4. #24

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    Oct 2001
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    Re: Still Life Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    .... the OP's school assignment is to use artificial light for the course project...

    Steve K
    Thanks, Steve. I, in fact, didn't read the post well enough.

  5. #25

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    I am from York PA, living in Oxnard, CA
    Posts
    211

    Re: Still Life Lighting

    Hi y'all, sorry I have been away for a bit of time. I had surgery to correct an issue with my Achilles' tendon a few Friday's ago and well, let's just say last Tuesday I had a major setback in my healing process when I fell down at home. I pretty much ripped apart was was corrected so now I'm down again and on the mends for a little longer time. With that said, sadly, I will be dropping both classes today as I cannot stand for another 2 weeks. Thanks to all for your assistance and examples. I think this winter though I'll experiment a bit with my lights and LF.

    Chris, thanks specifically to you for your suggestion on the use of window light. Unfortunately my still life setups were all going to be in my garage where I have no windows so artificial lights were necessary.

    Emil, lovely images for light painting. Maybe that is something I can try this winter as well.

    R/
    David

  6. #26

    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Portland, OR
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    603

    Re: Still Life Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold_4074 View Post
    Window light is wonderful, properly handled, but it has the huge disadvantage of not remaining constant. It works for "found" pictures, but these are not at the heart of conventional still life, which is "arranged" with respect to subject matter, composition, and lighting and then photographed with some combination of lens, film, viewpoint, and so on. There is nothing quite like making an image, processing and proofing, and then using the results to go back and try to make an improved version.

    A simple setup which can be left in place for subsequent attempts is invaluable for learning. If this is impossible, the next best thing is probably a north-facing window and the freedom to work around the times of the solstices, when day length and sun elevation are not changing rapidly.
    I have been using a West window for some work, and while I like many of the results, I am afraid the body of work may not look consistent when I finally bring things together.
    It helps to have portland's gray cloudy days on a regular basis ^.^
    (but I understand this is not the OP's question)
    ~nicholas
    lifeofstawa
    stawastawa at gmail

  7. #27

    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    251

    Smile Re: Still Life Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by seabee1999 View Post
    Chris, thanks specifically to you for your suggestion on the use of window light. Unfortunately my still life setups were all going to be in my garage where I have no windows so artificial lights were necessary.
    R/
    David
    David, you're quite welcome, and I apologize for not having read your original post more carefully.

    Regarding: "Unfortunately my still life setups were all going to be in my garage where I have no windows so artificial lights were necessary"
    ......... That's why God made saber saws and sky-lights! ;o)

    Regarding your injury: I wish you a complete recovery. Notice I didn't say "quick". I know from my own knee problem that those types of injuries take a very long time to heal correctly and shouldn't be messed with, so —as the French say— "bon courage"!

    Best,

    Chris

  8. #28

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    I am from York PA, living in Oxnard, CA
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    211

    Re: Still Life Lighting

    Thanks again Chris. This healing is a slow process. I hope to be able to stand and put weight on my bad foot in a few weeks. I just want to walk around again. As for the "skylight & saber saw", I don't think my landlord would appreciate a hole in his roof. :-)

    R/
    Dave

  9. #29

    Re: Still Life Lighting

    to return to your original question, essentially still life is remarkably simple. Keep your initial set up to one light for the foreground,and if you feel you need it a second light for the back.
    The thing you have to aware of is the contrast of the light , which is why for the majority of the time the light source is diffused, popular materials are matt opaque perspex or trace stretched over screens, what you have to remember is the diffusion materiel is now your light source, the time honoured way is to put you trace from the left, angled at about 30 degrees with the front edge of the lens being just out of shot and as close to the subject as possible, this tends to reduce the need for fill, as overfilling is the easiest way to flatten the subject. with your diffuser in place you can then position your light to control the form of your subject by moving it closer or further or forward and backward to control the fill.The choice between constant and flash is one of personal preference though bear in mind the heat from tungsten light in a small space can be less than splendid. Finally setting up your background, if you are shooting tabletop then it is paramount to get everything square, even if you decide at a later date to change it, the simple way to get the table top square is to first level the base with a spirit level then use a ruler to find the central point of the base place a set square on the front edge of the base and put a straight line that runs straight from front to back of the base on the central point, finally position your camera so the line on the tabletop runs straight through the centre of your viewfinder/screen.
    How straightforward was that

    http://www.aluncrockford.com

  10. #30

    Re: Still Life Lighting

    While I agree that for commerce a constant result is preferable
    daylight worked fairly well for Irvin Penn amounts others.

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