Still life photography said to be one of the best photography Projects where you can exercise your creativeness with some still life photos within your house. This photograph can be a part of your utilization of time when you find nothing to photograph due to any reason which restricts you to go outside. An amateur photographer may find it tough, but I can assure that once he knows the procedure and gets proper guidelines, he will be able to do Still Life Photography like a pro.
Still Life Photography
In this article, I shall discuss the easy and necessary procedure for Still Life Photography. Instead of giving ideas, I tried to provide the information which should be followed once you get an idea and set up your mind and camera for photography. I hope these tips will help you to improve your Still life photography skill.
1. You can Shoot a Lot of Things
I think this is the category of photography where you never need to worry about the subject. Most of the things around you which are available in your house are subject to still life photography. Forks, flower vase, books, brush, even a nail cutter can be the subject of still life photos. You need to arrange in a beautiful fashion and capture in the right way.
2. Your Home is A Source for Still Life Photography
The earlier paragraph declares the place where to take still life photos. Though the things are available around, you do not mean you can not change the location. You can arrange them in any place in your room, like on a table beside a window for natural light. You can even take them outside. If you can afford to have a studio, then that will be great.
3. Select Camera That Suits You
Is it a matter of concern of what camera to take? No, there is no restriction actually about this, but there is a recommendation. Subjects of still life photography are usually smaller in size than other photography. Close Up Photography or Macro Photography can be used as Still Life Photography as well. So, you need a camera that is less susceptive to shake.
A DSLR has a mirror that flips up while allowing the light through the lens to enter the sensor. This flipping causes the shake of the camera. It may be minimal, but photography of this kind will not give a satisfactory result with this minimum shake of the camera. This can be avoided using a steady tripod, but you will not be able to place the tripod always in the exact place for the small subjects.
A mirrorless camera has no mirror ahead of the lens; thus, a comparatively negligible shake is there while capturing a photo. Again, a moderate mirrorless camera has IBIS (Inbody Image Stabilization) which minimize the effect of shake of the hand. There are more features of a mirrorless camera that have recently made it superior over DSLR. I recommend using a mirrorless camera if any; however, this is not mandatory.
You should know the difference between Mirrorless and DSLR camera accurately so that you can convince yourself to choose the right camera for you. But, as I mentioned, there is no strict rule about selecting a camera type.
4. Prime and Macro Lens are Recommended
Well, there is no best lens for any photography; how best you use any lens is the main thing. A wide aperture lens is always recommended for this category of photography because you need to focus on something specific in most of the cases. This is not still the same; you may need to take a deeper depth of field. You can change the aperture or make an extended depth of field of the photo.
A 50mm lens becomes a wide lens for still life photography. Taking a wide lens like 11mm is not useful and fruitful for this photography. You may take a 100mm macro lens or any lens similar to this. In some cases, you have to take macro or close up photos where you will need this lens.
Close up, and macro shots make outstanding still life photos. If you do not have a macro lens, then do not worry. You can capture macro shots with the kit lens by placing it reverse. You can use a reversal ring to keep it fixed with the camera body. However, you will not have focus control and aperture selection control over the lens once it is mounted with a reversal ring, but it will make outstanding macro photos as well as still life photos.
5. Tripod is a Must for Still Life Photography
There must not be any confusion about using a tripod. Just use it without any doubt. You will have to operate in a minimal area for the photography; thus slightest movement on the camera will change a lot on the subject, and moreover, it will change the focus point. Thereby to remain steady on your focus point, you need to use a tripod. Sometimes a monopod can make your job done easily.
A regular tripod may not always facilitate you to take all possible photos due to its limitation. Good quality tripods can be used extending arms and can be utilized with lots of flexibilities. A ball head tripod mount will allow you to tune your camera position and focus precisely the way you want, which is very important for still life photography. Pan and tilt head is not tough to operate for this photography.
Small pocket tripods, small tripods with flexible legs are also handy for still life photos. Your camera can be placed very close to the subject and get a very sharp shot. Your type of photo and position of the item will dictate the kind of tripod. Use your judgment about selecting a tripod.
6. Try to Operate Remotely
Operating remotely means using a remote trigger or a cable release. I suggest to use it if the subject is a macro or close up type. This will ensure no movement of the camera resulting in a very sharp image. Most of the cameras can be operated remotely, that means you can change ISO, aperture, exposure compensation, etc.
The Canon Camera app allows you to control the camera with iOS or Android devices. This helps you to take different shots with different settings keeping the same frame. This can be done connecting the camera with laptops. However, steady tripod or breakneck shutter speed may remove the use of the remote. But, you cant always use fast shutter speed.
7. Focus Manually for Still Life Photography
As we are taking still photos; thus, there should not be any confusion between selecting AI Servo and AI Focus. However, this will come once you photograph with autofocus. I recommend not to use the autofocus mode. It should always be manual, and you should check the focus on the LCD monitor as the OVF(Optical Viewfinder) of DSLR or EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) of a Mirrorless camera may fool you.
Select the focus point manually, and if you want to focus any specific point, then use point focus. This is one of the valid reasons why I recommend a Mirrorless camera as you will get 90% of the frame to choose focus points. Focus point selection is significant for Still Life Photography because the change in focus point may change the meaning of the photo. It will either make the picture meaningful one or meaningless.
8. Check Histogram
Checking histogram is not only necessary for Still life photos but also for all kind of photography. This is especially applicable for photographing when you are either in a bright or dark environment. The brightness of the LCD monitor may fool you both in a sunny or shady situation. The histogram will not deceive you. However, this is a bit of advanced level work for photography. But, quickly, an amateur can follow it for better result.
9. Make a Good Composition for Still Life Photography
There are many photography compositions available and supported by photographers like the rule of thirds, Fibonacci, symmetric, triangle, etc. Among these, the most natural and most important component is The Rule of Thirds. This can be adopted very easy and makes the photo an identical good looking one. There should be a right combination of using this rule and focusing on the subject.
10. Tell a Story
The frame should tell a story. You should arrange your things in such a way so that it makes a sense and tells a story. The arrangement must not be such so that it looks odd, and the items used in the frame do not look irrelevant to each other. A lot of ideas available on the internet, see those, and you will get ideas about the subject pattern.
Whenever you see something, try to think about its actual function and present condition, make a story, then capture. You should imagine a lot for still life photography, and thereby you will get an outstanding result in the end.
11. The background is A Critical Component in Still Life Photography
Selecting a backdrop for still life photography is very important. A wrong background may minimize the value of a photo, and again a carefully selected background may intensify the value and beauty of the still life photo. Painted frames or canvas works excellent as a background. The ready-made backdrop for still life photos is also available in the market. You can also make a background with paper and some contrasting colors.
12. Natural Lighting is The Best For Still Life Photography
The best light for still life photography is the natural and indirect light. You can place your whole setup beside a window. Use diffusers to diffuse the light. A white curtain can do the work for you. You may use whiteboards on the other side, which will be working as a reflector. For some of the subjects where light does not reach, or external light is not sufficient, use a ring flash for it.
Do not hesitate to take your subject outside. You will get all around and natural light there. You can utilize the Golden Hour. The light of this time becomes directional and makes the subject a magical one. You must have an endeavor to take a photo during Golden Hour.
13. Experiment with Wide Lens
A 50mm lens becomes a wide lens for still life photography, which I mentioned already, but you must photograph with the wide lens as well. If your subject is too small and you want to make a photo where you want to show how little it is. Take a wide lens so that you can keep your subject close and include a lot in the frame.
14. Capture a Lot, Edit and Share
Whenever you are taking photography, be it still life photography or other photography, shoot a lot of frames in different settings and different position. Make different exposure compensation for one set of still life photos; this is called exposure bracketing. After that, share your photo via social media and other possible places. Before that, edit your photo and give it a professional touch with your favorite editor.
15. Accept Criticism, Rectify and Repeat
Once you share your still life photos, many will be there who will praise you. Those should be your inspiration. There are a huge number of people to criticize you. Take those as a blessing. Accept their criticism and try to take the point, justify it, and utilize accordingly in your next Still life Photography session. This will let you know different minds and ideas of different people on this section of photography.
Last But Not the Least
Still life photography is an excellent area of photography as it requires no special requirements. You can do this photography remaining in your house. This will remove your laziness, and you will not suffer from lack of subject and topic for photography. I have tried to highlight all the necessary and essential grounds that are very important for taking still life photos. If you have any brighter idea, please share with us and let us know.