Still Life first Attempts

Recently I was learning a lot about lighting and together with that I am now slowly making my way into the still life photography. I made me my own little studio. Well not really a studio, but a table and some accessories so that I can try and photograph still life. For one of my sessions I decided to shoot a glass with liquid in it. It turned out to be not a simple task as glass reflects absolutely everything! So that particular session wasn’t successful at all, but I didn’t give up, and after working on it for a few weeks, I finally got my lighting straight and about a week ago I made the following image:

Simply Red

Photograph by Greg Brave. Click on the photo to enlarge.

It looked pretty darn good to me, so I posted it on PhotoSig to try and get some critiques. To tell you the truth I was hoping to receive more compliments than critiques. I actually received some compliments, but there were two critiques that simply opened my eyes to still life photography, and I would like to present here several tips from those critiques. But first take a good look at the photo above and try to see what is wrong with it.
… ok, now, when you have your own opinion on my photo lets see what improvements I could have made to that shot.

  • The highlight on the glass seems stronger than the highlight on the pepper, and therefore takes away more attention – reduce the highlight on the glass.
  • The pepper that was chosen is not flawless, but it is also not an old one so that little imperfections that it has don’t emphasize its age, and only disturb the eye of the viewer.
  • Pepper has a darker are due to my lighting imperfection. I should have put a reflector near the pepper to light better that area.
  • There is a reddish area at the foreground that should be fixed.
  • The definition of the foreground (the contrast) could also be better.
  • The glass is poorly separated from the background. In order to better separate it, two black cards can be placed at two sides of the image (outside the composition). They would throw a black reflections on the glass contours, making it better separated from the background.
  • The background darkens towards the top of the photo. A reflector or soft box could be placed on the top to fix that.

Now I also received additional and very useful tips that I sure will use in my still life photography (when appropriate of course!). Here are some of them:

  • Always dilute the liquid to make it less dark
  • When possible slightly crumple some foil small enough that it can’t be seen and place it behind the drink, so that it will add sparkle to the liquid.
  • If you want to add bubbles to the liquid, then add glycerin and use straw to make a bubble.

Thank you Steve Chong and Randy for your helpful critiques!

I hope that these tips will help you too, and if you find them useful or have  something to add, please comment!

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