I had every intention of going back out to Farmington Bay this weekend. I wanted to try and catch the Bald Eagle migration before the 13th, when all the local bird refuges will be packed with old people and their point-n-shoots yelling and hootin about the birds inevitably making it impossible to shoot. Of course, here in Ogden about a foot of snow dropped on Friday night and when I woke up on Saturday morning it was still coming down like the next Ice-Age was beginning. Not being one to let a something like infinite snow get me down, I decided instead I would take the time I would be cooped up in the house to learn a new style of photography.
After some browsing online and pacing about the house I realized I had most everything I needed to give “still life” a try. The first attempt went horribly awry, for a number of reasons really. This was the setup I initially put together:
My camera settings for some reason weren’t set to shoot in RAW like I normally do, but rather a mid-level jpeg meaning I was already starting with a bad image. From there, I was shooting with various lights and no diffusion so I ended up with harsh shadows and clipped blacks. On top of all that, I wasn’t too careful with the backdrop, basically using some old black shirts to whip it together. So I ended up with shots like this:
Overall, they aren’t terrible images, but it isn’t great either. There was room for improvement. After getting online and chatting with some of my photography friends who provided some valuable insights, I opted to spend the next day finding out how to assemble a light box, and try again. After some debating and more pacing about the house, I came up with the idea to use my old work shirts and some picture frames to build a box. I ended up with this setup for shoot number two:
This shoot went much better I think. I fixed my camera settings, checked the calibration on my monitor (which still seems to be good) and with the diffusing I was able to get a couple more attempts at shooting some of the scenes I shot yesterday, but hopefully without all the problems.
After moving the lights around to about four dozen different positions, I ended up with a configuration similar to the one above with a front light, a side light and a top light, all with some varying level of diffusion (as the shirt parts were thicker in some areas than others (with intention of course). My second round of shooting and post work ended up with these shots:
All in all, I am much happier with these photos than I was with yesterdays shots. There is still a lot of work to be done as I also ended up with some awkward highlights like on this shot of the spoon/cup:
I’m not entirely sure what is causing that white blotch on the spoon as it isn’t a part of the spoon itself but regardless of how I angled the lights it was always there. I’ll be probably putting in a ton of article reading and research these next few weeks to learn what I can about lighting and I probably pick up a better light kit/box to see if it makes up for some of the issues my homemade one has.
Hopefully in the next few weeks, I’ll have this down a lot better and I can put together a tutorial like I did for the infrared work I’ve done. I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of the blog and as always, until net time — Thanks for reading!