Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Still life - background choice

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Czech Republic
    Posts
    832

    Still life - background choice

    I have been recently playing around some still life images (still lifes?), one thing I have been rather struggling with is the choice of background. I have been looking through the still life threads here on the forum, but obviously on the best images there the background is, well, not easily discernable, as it should be.
    So I would like to ask around those of you who are more experienced in this, what are your preferred choices? Plain wall? Some types of cloths? Paper? Something completely different?
    Thank you for all suggetions.
    Website of sorts, as well as flickr thing.

  2. #2
    Pieter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    435

    Re: Still life - background choice

    Depends on the subject matter. Could be a textured surface, flat, colored, draped. Something totally out of focus and abstract or suggesting an environment. Really, whatever makes you happy. Look at paintings, not photographs.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Purcellville, VA
    Posts
    1,075

    Re: Still life - background choice

    Without a fuller description of your intention, it's hard to offer advice, as for any kind of artistic work. In this case, to suggest a few options, there is still life imitating a classical dutch still life, a contemporary setting (kitchen, workshop), an obvious studio setting in modern or old-fashioned garb, and we can include in these also objects and settings as found with no arrangement or extra lighting by the photographer. I would say that the unity of the composition trumps particulars. One image will have a single primary object, another may be full of objects.

    The background in many cases, I would venture, will be relatively simple, whether it be a single flat tone or part of the found setting of the composition. In many cases, the "background" isn't very "back" at all, but an integral part of the subject, such as an image of tools in a tool box or items on a desk.
    Philip Ulanowsky

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    1,949

    Re: Still life - background choice

    Hi andreios,

    My impression from your post is that you want to photograph objects with minimal background. That appears to be the fashion here. Looking at the Still Life, 2021 thread, with a couple of exceptions, the photo is essentially a closeup shot of the subject with minimal to no context. One exception is the photograph by @Benjamin, page 1, post #40.

    One practical advantage of the closeup approach to making still life photographs is that you don't have to make a set. In @Benjamin's case, he probably just had to arrange a few objects that he already had in a room of his home. However, making a set can take a fair amount of thought and work. It's an exercise in art/set design. It may well involve getting your hands on objects, aka props, that you don't have. That means finding what you need elsewhere and arranging to borrow, rent or buy it.

    The other advantage of the closeup approach is that you have a fairly small area to light. If you're photographing a set that's outdoors, or indoors with a lot of light coming through big windows, lighting can be fairly straightforward, but in many cases it requires strobes or continuous lights and an understanding of how to use them. Not everybody wants to put in the time to learn about lighting. Others find it rewarding.

    Picking up on Pieter's suggestion (post #2), I'd suggest getting a couple of books, with lots of plates, on still life paintings and still life photographs by accomplished artists. Identify "backgrounds" that you like and think about what would be required to physically replicate them and light them.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Czech Republic
    Posts
    832

    Re: Still life - background choice

    Thank you for your responses, so far. I think I ought to have formulated my questions better. Of course, there are many styles, what I had in mind were mostly what might be called a "detailed study of (single) object" - with the idea of the background being as unobtrusive as possible - either dark or light, to help the object in question stand out... So far I have tried some loosely draped fabrics, but with smaller objects this got in the way so to speak...

    Thank you also for suggesting the paintings - this somehow did not occur to me - I will do that.
    Also a good point by r.e. re the design of a set... Something I thought about last night I was browsing through Edward Weston's Daybooks...
    Website of sorts, as well as flickr thing.

  6. #6
    Tin Can's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    17,739

    Re: Still life - background choice

    Paper of any color can be hung, draped, crunched, folded

    Then placed so far away from your subject it becomes abstract and may be illuminated or not

    Roller window shades also

    I am adding big shade rollers to my long porch, so I can utilize varieties of daylight

Similar Threads

  1. background question
    By Thom Bennett in forum Style & Technique
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 28-Aug-2014, 20:05
  2. Background rig
    By Robert Kalman in forum Gear
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 15-Apr-2013, 13:16
  3. easel background
    By GerardS in forum Darkroom: Equipment
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 5-Aug-2012, 09:52
  4. Floor/Background for a Nudeshot
    By soeren in forum Style & Technique
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 11-Mar-2012, 23:14

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •