Still Life Photography Tips

Still Life photography is as simple or as tricky as you want to make it. In still life photography you can manipulate background, lighting, angle, and composition so you can literally ‘draw’ what you like.

According to some views on this subject if you create a scene and shoot it that’s Still Life, but if you discover a scene and shoot it that’s a snapshot.

I don’t really get the distinction as far as a Still Life scene goes. Here are some examples of a painter’s still life:

Take a look at the Old Violin by William Harnett 1886 – tell me that doesn’t look photographic and carefully composed right down to the envelope. But it could just as easily be a snapshot the painter took with his eyeballs and got down on his canvas.

Still Life Violin

How about the, Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber by Juan Sánchez Cotán (1602)?

Is it a ‘snapshot’ or a real Still Life? Did the artist arrange those elements, wait for the right lighting to cast that neat compositional shadow or just fudge it?

Still Life Fruit

Or did he walk past the scene on the way out the door and decide to set up his easel and capture it?

Who really cares?

The main thing is does it do anything for you?

Does it communicate to you in any way?

What does it communicate?

How about the Van Gogh vase of flowers?

Arranged or snapped?


Okay, that’s enough theory. Let’s take some shots!

Still Life Photography Tips continued…

Still Life Photography Tips P.2

There are several ways to shoot a still life. If you have lights, backdrops, plate cameras that have adjustable settings you wouldn’t be reading this anyway, so let’s cut to the chase.Still Life shots are good to practice your ‘eye for photo composition’, your color sense, and lens techniques because usually the subject isn’t going anywhere or being a distraction.

Still Life can also be satisfying – maybe your friends will yawn but hey they’re probably yawning anyway.

Try this as an experiment:

  • Find somewhere in your home that has good lighting and an interesting or a neutral background, like a tabletop near a window.
  • Empty out your pockets into a heap on the table.
  • Don’t rearrange anything. You’ve probably got coins, keys, a cellphone perhaps, maybe some notes, an old movie ticket and a receipt for a coffee or whatever.
  • Pick up your camera and walk around your still life until you like what you see in the viewfinder and shoot a few frames.
  • Try it again from different heights and different angles.
  • Download your shots and pick out the three best.
  • Now critique them. Why do you like them? What do they communicate about you? Messy pockets or do they represent a interesting window into your life?

Now save those and leave your heap on the table (if you can) for a couple of hours. Now the light should be different. Do the same exercise. Shoot another bunch of shots and pick three. Compare them to the first three. Decide which ones you like best now.

Maybe in the first shots the lighting was soft and the shadows not noticeable. But in the later shots the shadows are harder, and now maybe the geometry of the composition has changed dramatically. Now you have something that looks like the cover of an espionage thriller. You decide what the image communicates now and if you want it to communicate that.

Wait a few more hours and by now there’s probably no sunlight so the shots are going to be taken using fluorescent lighting or incandescent lighting. Maybe now you have no shot at all.

In any case the amount of light falling on your scene is probably too little even for your neat digital camera, so now you need to haul out that tripod. (Ah that’s why I bought it!) Yes, tripods are for when camera movement is going to spoil the shot.

Unless you have trained as a sniper for ten years, below about 1/60 your body movement or the pressure of your finger on the shutter button is going to cause ‘movement’ in your picture.

Put the camera on the tripod and figure out the delayed shutter function on your camera. It will have one. Most give you 15-30 seconds before the image is captured.

Frame the shot, trip the shutter, and hope you don’t get an earth tremor at the critical moment. If you’re serious about getting decent shots you should know how to use the “bracket” function.

That means the camera will take a series of shots exposing for more light and less light than the basic exposure. Purists dig this kind of thing but between you and me, you can fix a host of exposure problems in photo editing software – what you can’t fix in image editing software is camera or subject movement. You shouldn’t have any subject movement unless you keep small animals in your pockets and because – hey it’s a STILL Life.

Shoot a few shots. Chances are the results suck because direct overhead light is pretty boring. Your Still Life now looks like a dead life.

You probably have images that look boringly like you unloaded your pockets on a table. All the feel and mood is gone.

No problem!

Now let’s start creating with light.

Still Life Images continued…

Still Life Photography Tips P.3

Ok! Now lets start creating with light.

Go steal someone’s desk lamp and shine it onto the scene. Better? Worse? Go steal another.

Now you are into the dynamics of lighting. Here are the basics of lighting something.

You have a main Light and a Fill light. The main light is usually the brightest. You use it to light the scene. Being one light it is going to light one side of the scene.

Turn off the overheads and set this lamp a little off to the right of your camera. Observe the result. Hmm, don’t like those shadows now on the left? Now you turn on the other lamp and put it on the left of the camera to fill in the shadows with its light.

If both lamps are the same wattage move the fill back until it is just reducing the shadows without creating nasty shadows of its own. Couldn’t steal a second lamp?

No problem.

Go get some aluminum foil. Find something big and flat that no one is going to miss for a while like the Monopoly board or cut up a packing box and tape the foil to it.

Now you have a reflector that will act as a second fill light. You can buy these at photography Shops or you can just carry foil with you. Set up your reflector so it ‘fills’ the shadows.

Take a few shots and have a look at the Still life now. You can add more lights if you have them but usually it’s a waste of time and electricity and you’ll end up tearing your hair out.

The more lights you use the more shadows you’ll get and the more you’ll have to fool around trying to highlight or fill different parts of your Still Life. When you get really frustrated just go back to two lights until you get those right.

By now you’ve probably exhausted all the possibilities of lighting and angle. If you’ve been very good and haven’t cheated, your heap is still the same arrangement as when you started.

Now you can play about with adjusting the composition. See our photo composition page for a simple rule for composing a photo. Now try this rule with your Still Life. You have some main elements and some sub elements. The coins are sub elements. The cell phone may be a main element. What do you want your viewer to notice? Use composition to guide the viewer’s eye on a tour of your Still Life.

Shoot lots of shots. Play around and each time ask yourself: What does this image communicate?

Now you’re ready to get a bit adventurous. You can take a prowl around the house and spot pleasing compositions, or go the fruit market and buy some vegetables – large and small, different colors.

Or just take a walk around the neighborhood at different times of the day and look for some still lifes. Here’s one from my neighborhood.

Still Life Photography Lotus

If you really want to learn how to take great photos, still life or otherwise, and get good at this stuff we highly recommend Beginner Digital Photography as a resource.

It covers everything you need to know from beginner to pro in an interactive format you can study or refer to at your own pace and at your level of experience.

Click Here to See Beginner Digital Photography for Yourself

Learn Digital Photography

Here at My Photography Tips we are big fans of approaching things on a gradient – especially new interests like learning digital photography!

There is ample opportunity for you to go hog wild on new digital cameras, image editing software and expensive tickets to the Amazon rain forests to explore your new passion in life!

However we tend to recommend a more measured approach. The photography tips, tricks and techniques on this site will certainly get you going in the right direction but in all honesty it is a limited resource.

Regardless of the digital camera you have you should be able to get good shots with that camera… provided you know how.

Buying a better camera will not make up for a lack of basic photographic knowledge or technique so we recommend this course to get those basics established from the start:

The program we recommend is Beginner Digital Photography and yes, we are aware it seems to be a bit of a cheesy name!

Here’s What You Get:

“This beginner digital photography course is perfect for the absolute beginner looking to take better photographs of their friends and families, while on holiday or starting a new hobby in photography.

This beginner digital photography course is ideal for anybody looking to truly learn the FUNDAMENTALS OF PHOTOGRAPHY.

Leaving this beginner digital photography course, students will be able to operate their camera in full manual or aperture priority.

This beginner digital photography course covers the ability to freeze motion or create long exposure photographs such as slowing water.

In addition the digital beginner photography course adds the ability for students to manipulate their depth of field (blurry background) so they are able to use the right camera settings for portrait, landscape and architecture amongst other conditions.

Finally the beginner digital photography student will understand what lenses to use for different situations, take crystal clear indoor and low light photographs.

Our beginner digital photography course is the most hands-on photography course in Udemy and we provide a series of practical creative and technical examples so that you feel comfortable and confident with your camera.”

Thoughts on the Product:

This package covers a lot of ground on the topic of digital photography. All of the advice is very step-by-step and detailed, but doesn’t include unnecessary filler or technobabble.

Even for someone who has never used a digital camera before, the information is clear and concise enough to take that person from buying a camera to taking their first shots and being proud of their work.

The product can be downloaded instantly upon purchase, so you don’t have to wait for a bunch of books and videos to come in the mail.

Where to Learn More?

Click Here to Check Beginner Digital Photography for Yourself

Portrait Photography Fundamental Principles

Shooting portrait photographs can be hugely gratifying. It’s an opportunity to present the best aspect of somebody, and create a picture which communicates something exceptional.

The 1st guideline of very good portrait photography is to examine your subject.

This does sound simplistic but take a browse through every one of the images you have of your friends and relations to see if there isn’t a kind of similarity to them all. Cut off head and shoulder shots, uneasy posing, goofy expressions, empty staring, frozen smiles…?

Everybody has some individual feature that should certainly be photographed. It doesn’t need to be perfect skin, a renovated nose, pouting lips, beautiful eyes. Nonetheless it should really be a unique quality which communicates the person’s uniqueness.

Sound challenging? It isn’t if you adhere to some fundamental tips.

Compose Vertically.

Shift the camera to one side. A portrait image ordinarily features the head and torso and sometimes may include the hands. These are preferable in a vertical format. Horizontal framing leaves you with wide open spaces each side of the person which could take away from the sense of the shot.

Attempt to Influence Precisely How your Subject is Clothed.

If this is to be an almost formal portrait photo you could possibly propose what outfits are to be worn. Solid, dark or light colorings work most effectively. Patterns, checks, stripes and swirls bring in confusion to the eye of the viewer. Bold colors can overpower the skin tones. A vee or scoop neck is preferable to a round neck. For older women or men, conceal the shoulders, for young women leave them exposed.

Try to use the available light effectively.

Locate the individual where the light is gentle and emerging mostly from one direction. This can supply a moody sense and usually gives the eyes more attention. You may use a reflector on the shadowed side to bounce the light should the contrast between shadow and highlight is too harsh. A basic reflector can be produced by overlaying a piece of cardboard with lightweight aluminum foil.

You Should Not Use Direct Camera Flash.

Flash light is lighting in it’s most dull incarnation. Very rarely it may elevate a shot into dazzling life, but usually the use of available lighting is more desirable. Flash has a tendency to give you a bland look and the occurrence of the flash going off gets rid of any intimate ambiance you may have built.

Try a Telephoto Lens. 105-135mm is normally best. (Just do not use a wide angle.)

Let Your Subject be Seated.

This helps put them at ease by having somewhere to “be” and helps you in being able to guide them more easily. Give your subject guidance.

Decide on Your Subject’s “best side”.

People in actual fact do have one. Get one shoulder turned toward the camera so one side is favored a touch. Check out the pose other ways and try to discover which way is the better.

In a portrait photograph, you are addressing modest movements and shifts of situation and perspective. Attempt to shoot a little above the subject to make the eyes open up more. Perhaps look into bringing down the shoulder closest to the camera, get the head straight or at an interesting angle. Take the chin down a little.

Some people look better when they smile but some do not. You may get more absorbing expressions and subtleties without a smile. Tell the individual to think about anything they like doing. This will emphasize the eyes and call attention to the mouth lines.

If the hands are inside the picture, take a good look at them. Hands can now and again look uncomfortable or perhaps ugly. A casually closed fist is typically fairly neutral. Position the hands in the lap or resting on a knee and verify how it seems. Crop them off later if they don’t work.

When you’re photographing candid portraits most of the same steps are recommended though in these particular shots you’ll want to remember to move around to get the perfect angles.

Click here for more detailed digital photography techniques and wedding photography techniques.

Video Marketing Tips

Any kind of authority that advises you on the subject of the effective use of video for online marketing would need to deliver straightforward instructional references for that on-line video marketing. Using video projects for marketing is not going to help you unless you utilize it appropriately or if it drives away customers instead of attracting them.

These kinds of resources ought to encompass not simply the way to benefit from video in your online marketing efforts but tips on making the best video for your target audience. This preferably should comprise of at least some material on how to pick out the best video editing software for your situation in addition to the principles of equipment and shooting techniques.

The very first thing you must take into account when it comes to online video marketing is your market and the ideal technique to acquire their attention. If you select a excessive video, customers may very well be turned off rather than drawn to your message. On the other hand, for anybody who is promoting music to teenagers, your video should be cheerful and full of energy.

You might also want to give thought to precisely how a video will display on your website or elsewhere. Having a video open up in a new window or in a particular video player may irritate any visitors in the same way that videos which start automatically could have a similar impact. At the same time, it might be a good idea to include some controls to quickly flip the video to pause or to turn down the sound, in the event they watch the video at school! Any good advice for online video marketing will handle these points.

Provided materials for online video marketing would need to detail some of the most appropriate ways of using video on your website. This may be as an entrance to the online site before the customer enters your homepage, or it might be found to the side of the website. By doing this it is easy for the user to navigate around the video if they wish to get right to additional material on your website.

Any materials provided with regards to online video marketing should be able to show you quickly the way in which this can take place. You’ll be able to discuss your offerings or provide arguments as to why they ought to consider your products.

It’s not at all uncommon for organizations to set up their own web 2. accounts, which includes Facebook or YouTube. It’s a great idea to upload your video to a number of sites so as to access the maximum quantity of prospects that can be found there.

It happens to be crucial today not to undervalue the implementation video for your internet site included in your present marketing initiatives, so be sure you understand all the points involved and do not disregard this highly effective marketing technique.

Maximizing Your Concept By Using Images

Someone said once that a picture is worth a thousand words. No matter if that is accurate or not, a picture is certainly an excellent way of interacting through language and cultural obstacles.

A good number of successful speakers implement visual displays of some sort and even if Powerpoint demonstrations in many cases are deathly boring, exhibiting colorful, vibrant images continues to be a powerful way to steer or retain attention. You may want to be lazy and browse the many free online sites for these images or better still get out there and take your own private pictures and tailor them exactly to your communication.

For anybody who is lecturing or delivering a workshop on marketing or whatever, include good quality straightforward photographs of actual conditions. If you’re referring to the environment go out and capture some actual examples to drive home your position for a local audience.

Whatever your content is you can easily liven up any presentation with a handful of well-executed pictures which make the subject topical, immediate and real. Pictures lift a listener’s curiosity and participation by improving the listener’s comprehension of your message.

Lots of websites regardless of how streamlined, lose visitor attention rapidly unless there are a few appealing images to feed the visual senses.

A layout that also demonstrates the item in actual use is always a great way to bring up client attraction.

The sole warning with any of these ideas is to make certain the pictures are well-done and not apparently shot by a beginner.

Plain, poorly composed pictures have the ability to detract from the viewer’s appreciation and there ultimately is no reason for offering pictures such as these considering the technologies at your disposal at the moment. Digital cameras can provide you with razor-sharp, brilliant, images and a small amount of practice (and possibly working with photo-editing software) will have you shooting fascinating images which will complement your text or spoken content.

Unfamiliarity {with the|using the|when using the|while using the|with the} camera will almost always bring about lackluster, less attractive images but some thought and making an effort to grasp some of the important principles with regard to picture composition can give rise to {eye-catching|exceptional} shots. Photography is like nearly all activities, the more you practice the better you become.

Virtually any process which has a technical facet to it along the lines of photography, seems to have its own realm of language that from the outset makes it appear hard to fully grasp. The reality is that these types of words are very very easily understood as long as you spend only a little time to get to know them.

Almost all quality digital camera brands have very extensive user instructions with their items that they have spent a great deal of time compiling for consumers exactly like you. The companies are sensible enough to understand that when you are happy with their merchandise you will likely be a repeat buyer so take a little time to check out the handbook and get the hang of your digital camera.

At the moment the internet is filled with amazing free information on all different types of photography not to mention offering ways to access numerous great photography tuition systems.

So when you have a presentation to carry out or maybe a message to share think it over with respect to what varieties of photographs one could add in to augment your objectives. Try to go out and take them by yourself but if you absolutely can’t get them, hunt them down on the free picture internet sites. It will nearly always be better whenever you get it done by yourself for the reason that it will make you feel you’ve accomplished a better job.

Click here for more detailed digital photography advice and photo composition advice.