Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

18 Jan 2018

Old Master Still Life Photography

Hi there, continuing my chat about taking still life photos in and Old Masters style, here's a few more images and some tips on how to get the look.

My equipment; Canon 5D MkIV camera, on tripod with a zoom lens, edited in photoshop, aided by some Florabella Actions.

Controlling the light.
I take these photos on a table next to a window, one that does not get direct sun, (the window is on the left). You don't want it too bright, nor do you want it lit from both sides so close off light sources on the opposite side to the window (right side). Sometimes I find the sun is strong at the other end of the house and this can lighten it too much, making it flat. So I pull the curtains to block the direct sun on the right so that my only light source is now on the left.

Sometimes for variation I flip the final image, so if you think the one below looks like the light is coming from the right that is why.

To control the light source on the left through the window, you need to tunnel the light, into a shaft (roughly), if that makes sense. I have shutters on this window that bi-fold and this gives me optimum flexibility.

The photo below shows how I have controlled the light to fall only on the front left corner of the table. Keeping the background in darkness. Remember that you don't need to see the whole of an object to tell what it is.  

The settings on the camera need to be on aperture mode, and as you are working in such low light you must be on a tripod. Here's where the new model Canon 5D MkIV comes into its own; the live screen with touch focus helps you to read the light at the brightest point and dial down or up how dark you want it to look.  

The more you use photoshop, the more you realise what you can change after shooting. As I'm old school I try to frame and shoot as close as possible to the final look as I can. But if you find that you can't quite get the drama then don't worry because you can tweak that in the editing. 

I shoot in very large format, often in RAW and then reduce the image after editing so that it's the right size for social media. 

Something else I've started to do more recently is getting into the shot myself and putting the camera on timer. It can take a bit of playing with and frankly it can be a bit hit and miss, but as we are shooting on digital, just keep going until you start to get the results.

Photographing smoke and steam is quite a challenge, steam is reliant on the temperature of the room and as it disappears quite quickly can be particularly hard to capture.  Smoke from extinguished candles however is a bit easier and adds such an atmospheric touch to a still life photo (I talked about it's symbolic meaning in my previous post). Some candles smoke more than others so track down the ones in your house which release a good plume when they are blown out. 

The background needs to be pretty dark for the smoke to show and the light needs to hit it just right so I tend to put the candles in the lightest area of the setting and move the window shutters so the light really hits them. 

Finally the editing. I open up the images in photoshop. 

I purchased a few sets of effects from 'Florabella Actions' some time ago, and while I tend not to use the filters and pre-sets any more, I do use some of the short cuts that come in it's actions list. It can be quite hard to learn photoshop when you are teaching yourself so these packages of looks can be very useful and also speed things up. There are other brands around so it might be a good idea to spend some time watch the video tutorials on those site.  

For this kind of drama I use the Dodge and Burn brushes to make the darks darker and bring up the spots of light if necessary. Watch out what this does to the colour though, because darkening can sometimes make the colour too vivid so you may want to then neutralise the area with a brush tool or turn down the saturation. 

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram to see more of these along with some daily chat and nonsense x

Blog Design Created by pipdig