Photographing Still Life Using Available Light

In this post I would like to show that you don’t need sophisticated lighting setups and other “special” props to create interesting still life images. All I used in the photos that you will see below was a glass, an apple, two small sheets of black paper, and two cardboard frames.

The main player here was the light. For quite some time now I’ve been noticing that I have a beautiful light coming from my kitchen window during the late afternoon hours, and finally I decided to take advantage of it. Writing these lines it is a late afternoon of another day, this same light again coming from my kitchen window and I struggle with a strong urge to leave everything and shoot some more still life.

I liked how the glass shadow looks on the black sheet of paper. To enhance it I poured water inside the glass to make it wet, so the shadow would look more interesting, and here is the result.

In post processing I converted the photo to B&W (when you shoot RAW you always get a colored image), and increased contrast and clarity. That’s it.

Glass and its shadow.

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In the next photo I deliberately used a green apple, because I intended for the shots to be in b&w except for the apple, and being evenly colored green it was very easy to leave only the green color. In lightroom rather then directly converting the photo to B&W, I separately decreased the saturation of all colors except the green. Then I had to increase the green saturation to bring back the original color of the apple. In this photos I simply put one black sheet of paper on the kitchen table, and another one was acting as a background. The rest is obvious. The direction of the light can be easily determined from the highlight on the apple. Because I couldn’t move the light source 🙂 I created my composition so that the light would be falling in the desired direction. In post processing, in addition to what I already described, I also increased clarity and contrast, and added just a touch of vignetting.

Glass with green apple

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In the next three photos I was playing with geometric forms, light and shadow. I poured some water into the glass to get additional horizontal line for my geometric formation. Actually I did that intuitively, and only now, realized why. Here again, two most important factors were light and creativity. You should understand that I didn’t come up with these compositions right away. It took me quite some time of thinking, imagining, trial, and error to come up with something that I thought was working for me.

Shapes and Shadows

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Here I tried to shoot just a fragment of the whole, and ended up liking it. In my opinion it gives a hint of the whole leaving enough room for imagination.

Glass and apple fragment 1

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In this final photo I tried a more complex approach to my composition by adding more detail. I think it is a risky thing to do because I could easily over complicate the photo thus loosing the viewer’s attention. I hope I didn’t, and I’d be glad to hear about it in the comments to this post.

Glass and apples

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So here you go. Still life photography that doesn’t require expensive equipment or artificial light. I hope you liked it, and I hope that you got inspired by it to create your own still life images.

As always your comments are appreciated, and

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Wishing everybody a Fruitful and Creative New Year!


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