Tips For Still Life Photography

Yesterday D and I had a little fun playing with a few ideas for still life photography. I knew that I wanted a nice dark black background with something colorful but I really had  no idea what was going to go on that background.

I took a look around my office, dug through the piles of props, and the first thing that caught my eye was a little yellow pitcher. Yellow on black sounded like a good combo so I grabbed a yellow plate and a yellow bowl to go with it. Now that needed a little something more so in went the bright red cherries. Nice. I was pretty happy with that one!

0.3 sec - f/8.0 - ISO 200 - 32mm - Objects placed in a light tent and lit by the ambient room lighting plus one side light. Exposure compensation adjusted to -2.
0.3 sec – f/8.0 – ISO 200 – 32mm – Objects placed in a light tent and lit by the ambient room lighting plus one side light. Exposure compensation adjusted to -2.

For my second still life I stuck with the nice dark black background and gravitated towards red. A nice shiny strawberry juice glass and some cute little styrofoam strawberries seemed to fit together nicely!

1/10 - f/5 - ISO 200 - 55mm - Objects placed in a light tent and lit by the ambient room lighting plus one side light. Exposure compensation adjusted to -2.
1/10 – f/5 – ISO 200 – 55mm – Objects placed in a light tent and lit by the ambient room lighting plus one side light. Exposure compensation adjusted to -2.

Ok; I’m kind of liking these two. I may just have to keep that black background up a little longer!


Here’s a few tips and ideas on still life photography that I should keep in mind… maybe you’ll find something useful here too!

  1. Still life emphasizes interesting composition, texture, form, color, balance, light, shadow, and harmony.
  2. Multiple objects in a still life image shouldn’t be random. They should all share a common theme such as shape, color, texture, function, origin etc.
  3.  Your background should be fairly simple and should not distract from the objects.
  4. Lighter objects look best on a darker background and darker objects look best on a lighter background.
  5. Side lighting brings out surface details and low light makes colors appear richer.
  6. When using a white or very light background try adjusting your exposure compensation by +1 or +2. When using a black background try adjusting your exposure compensation by -1 or -2.

I wonder… what shall I put on that black background next??


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