alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts tagged ‘palladium tone’

Learning from Still-Life

A tulip and three apples

A tulip and three apples

I think there is saying which goes something like this –

‘If something is easy, then make it difficult. It’s the only way to learn’.

I regard myself as a reasonably competent photographer but I am always keen to learn new skills and try new techniques. In the very short time I have been making still-life images, the above words sum up my current feelings rather well.

Having given myself the challenge of trying a new photographic genre, it is already clear to me that making a good still life image is far from easy. Naively I thought it would be relatively straight forward. I would choose the objects I wanted to photograph, place them how I liked in the frame, and finding a suitable background shouldn’t be a problem. Lighting might be more of an issue, but again I was of the view that having some control over the direction and intensity of light would quickly give me the result I imagined. And processing the final image should be a breeze – or so I thought!

This image, ‘A tulip and three apples’ is the result of my fourth still-life session. Whilst I am more than pleased with the outcome, getting there was far from easy. So what did I learn by making things difficult for myself?

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Three vessels and a tulip

Three vessels and a tulip

This is the result of my third session making a still-life image.

Yesterday morning my wife and I visited The Curiosity Centre in Dorset. A large warehouse selling second hand furniture, collectables and what can only be termed as bric-a-brac. I was looking for some items which I thought would lend themselves to a still-life composition. I found three pewter vessels which I manged to buy for the princely sum of £10. I liked their simple design, rustic nature, patina and marks. I bought a bunch of tulips for my wife to enjoy but pinched one bloom for the photograph!

I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon creating a basic setup. Nothing elaborate. I used the natural light from a side window and a head torch. I changed the composition many times and tried different lenses and aperture settings until I had a selction I could download into Lightroom for further assesment.

My chosen image was processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro II. I like the square crop and the warm tone was added in LR to complete the workflow.

I find this genre of photography most appealing, so I will definitely be on the lookout for more items to help make suitable compositions. In the process I am sure my compositions and understanding of light will improve, as I refine my approach to still-life photography.

Do click on the image to view a larger version.

 

 

 

More ‘Still Life’ – further experimentation for the fun of it!

Still life-4

A few days ago I experimented for the first time with still life photography. (You can read that post here). I have to say rather enjoyed it. Sometimes I think you need to break free from the norm, try something new and endeavour to be a little creative in the process. It can be very refreshing to photograph subjects in a different way and to make images which challenge how you think and approach a new technique .

With more time on my hands this afternoon I gathered together a few items of glassware from around the home and raided the fruit bowl and the fridge. I used a very simple set up. A black cloth was served as a background and a base. In addition to the natural light in the room I used a desk lamp to provide some directional light, plus a small head torch to cast light on a particular area of the subject. I used a 90mm lens on a full frame 35mm camera mounted on a tripod for stability.

After a certain amount of trial and error here are the results.

Still life-1

Still life-2

Still life-3

All in all a very pleasant and satisfying way to spend an afternoon. Still life photography may not be to everyone’s taste but I particularly enjoyed the complete control I had over composition, lighting and final processing. Without question I shall experiment further. I would like to try different backgrounds, reflectors and mirrors to change how things are lit. Choose other items to photograph and consider options for their placement in the frame. I may possibly acquire some interesting objects from charity shops or boot sales etc. The permutations are endless. Long term projects continue but photography should be fun and having experimented with ‘still life’ I do feel that my creative juices are flowing once again.

Do click on any of the images to view a larger version which will open in anew window.

It’s summer and I am not going to complain…..but…..

Tree in Winter’s mist

As I look out of the window and type these words, I can see a blue sky; the sun is shining; a gentle breeze moves through the trees and I know if I stepped outside I would be greeted by a pleasant temperature of about 20c. Not hot, but quite acceptable for the middle of August.

What’s not to like?

Well I don’t want to complain or come across as if I am wishing my life away, because neither of these statements are true. However at this time of year I do start to look forward to the autumn and indeed to the winter. These seasons suit my photographic style so much better. The days are shorter, the sun is much lower in the sky, the trees have lost their leaves and the weather has the potential to be so much more atmospheric.

This photograph – ‘Tree in Winter’s mist’ – is typical of the conditions I like. The sun has yet to penetrate the early morning mist, and the tree is bereft of its summer clothing, revealing its winter skeletal form. Nor did I have to get up at 4am to find the sun this low in the sky. A distinct advantage as far as I am concerned!

As I come to the end of this short entry, the sun is still shining outside and the garden looks as though there is work to be done. So out I venture with a trowel, shears and a garden fork. In a few weeks time I am more likely to be tempted to grab my bag, select a camera and a couple of lenses and see what the autumn season has in store. I can’t wait, but in the meantime I shall enjoy the rest of the summer and tidy the garden.

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