Still Life Photography

What Is Still Life Photography

Still life photographs can be just anything that doesn’t move.

 

An Old Home, Indonesia

An Old Home, Indonesia

 

We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning. - Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007)

The term still life is derived from the Dutch 'Stilleven', defining still life as a picture consisting predominantly of inanimate objects. These objects include natural objects: food, flowers, plants, feathers, rocks, and stone etc. They also include man-made objects; books, vases, glassware, jars, jewelry, coins, currency, tools, candy, toys etc. The French give the still life tradition a term "nature morte", it means dead nature.

As early as 17th century, photographers found inspiration in the still life paintings and try to get photography accepted as a serious art form. As photography developed into the twentieth century, many photographers began to engage with still life images, they are Andre Kertesz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Walker Evans, Jean Baudrillard, just to name a few. For example, Edward Weston incorporated still life photography in experimentation with organic forms and connections in nature.

 

Tabletop Still Life Photography could be easily done in a corner of a house

Tabletop Still Life Photography could be easily done in a corner of a house

Alpha 7R II | FE 35mm F1.4 GM | 35 mm | 1/250 sec | F1.6 | ISO 100

 

Traditionally still life photography is usually made in a studio setting where photographers use precise composition and controlled lighting to render shape, establish mood, and draw viewer’s attention to the subjects.

Comparing to other types of photography such as landscape or portraiture photography, it gives photographers more leeway in the arrangement of the design elements within a composition.

I personally find that outdoor offers a great opportunity for good still life photography. We can find plenty good still life photography outdoor, be in around our living environment, or when we are traveling to a new location. Examples such as leaves floating in the river, a nice composition of street objects, an aged window, or an interesting rock on the beach etc.

With proper observation, we could find unique subjects and backgrounds. We may choose still life objects for a variety of reasons: sometimes we want the symbolism value of the object to express a point; sometimes we discover the objects that hold some forms of personal interest; sometimes we just want to show the truth we have encountered; sometimes we chose objects simply they are aesthetically pleasing.

One of the characteristics of still life photography is that the photographer can relax and take the time to shoot. Unlike the general photography such as street photography or reportage photography which is based on the motion. We often emphasize “decisive moment” but for still life Photography, we are shooting the objects that are not moving, and timing might not be that critical. On top of that, you don’t have to seek permission from the objects you are photographing.

There are no limits on what you can do with still life photography, you probably can be the first person to photograph a series of drop leave in the drain passage, or develop a personal portfolio on a still life photography. such as the old windows, followers or other objects. When we are shooting still life outdoor, there are several things we have to keep in mind. First, we need a digital camera with a standard lens or zoom lens says around the range 24-70mm focal length; we might consider using a tripod with release cable for long exposure setting. A flash or LED light might be useful for a situation when fill-in light is needed.

Light and Shadow

To photograph is to write with light. It is light and shadows together that produce a great photograph. When natural light falling across a subject provide a sense of shape and depth, makes it three-dimensional.

 

Still Life Photography, Blangladesh

Still Life Photography, Blangladesh

 

Still Life Photography, Taiwan

Still Life Photography, Taiwan

Alpha 7R | 28 mm | 1/400 sec | F5.6 | ISO 500

 

Creating Powerful Image With Colour

By finding scenes with strong color composition, be it one color against a neutral background, or one color dominating as the primary color, can generate a powerful effect.

Still Life Photography, Taiwan

Still Life Photography, Taiwan

Alpha 7 II | Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS | 40 mm | 1/50 sec | F4 | ISO 1600

 

Still Life, Nepal

Still Life, Nepal

 

Looking For Metaphoric Value

Looking to capture images that seem to have two meanings: one that shows on the visual level, and another that the photographer alludes to suggest. This often makes a photograph interesting and give viewers a chance to interpret the photograph differently.

Still Life, Singapore

Still Life, Singapore

Alpha 7R | 28 mm | 1/800 sec | F5.6 | ISO 100

 

Looking For Metaphoric Value

By placing the subject on the focus points near the interaction points in the rule of thirds, we can give balance to a composition while simultaneously making it more engaging to the eyes.

Still Life, Singapore

Still Life, Singapore

Alpha 7 | Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA| 35 mm | 1/13 sec | F2.8 | ISO 1250

 

Still Life In Street Photography

The essence of street photography is about documenting everyday life and society on the streets, it is also a great opportunity to spot still life when the photographer is wandering from street to street.

Still Life, Singapore

Still Life, Singapore

Alpha 7R | 28 mm | 1/800 sec | F5.6 | ISO 200

 

Still Life, Guizhou China

Still Life, Guizhou China

 

Shooting Still Life When We Are Traveling

Shooting still life when we are traveling When traveling we can break the cross-cultural boundaries and capture still objects in a different cultural environment.

Still Life, China

Still Life, China

 

Still Life, Bangkok Thailand

Still Life, Bangkok Thailand

 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Sony Digital Workshop

 

 

Yeow Kwang's Gear

Alpha 7R III

ILCE-7RM3

FE 35mm F1.4 GM

SEL35F14GM

FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Sonnar T*

SEL35F28Z

FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS

SEL2470Z

 

 

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