Still Life Experiments – Four Elements and Water

To begin my first experiments with still life, I created a set up using a plain dark background to practice low key photography with each form or item placed in simple compositions.  I used a small light source to light the scene and a slow shutter speed of 1.6 and an aperture of F 5.6. while using a low ISO of 100.  For this experiment, my intention was to present simple observation of a form that represents each of the natural elements, water, earth and fire.  I have chosen to shoot this way as I aim to produce imagery that is intriguing and intense as I am eager to experiment with this photography style where there is a dark, moody atmosphere that is similar to my previous works. I shot the images from a high angle and used a black board as my backdrop.

Contact Sheets

Post Production

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 13.52.29

During the post production process using Photoshop, I enhanced the hue of the imagery using colour balance and the curves RGB channel.  The imagery appeared somewhat green in underexpose areas and so I adjusted the channels to give decrease this and to give the image a slightly colder appearance.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 13.54.21

I also used the crop tool to have the matchstick placed more accurately in the centre.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 14.09.00

Other adjustments included using the exposure and gamma correction tool to refine lighting and shadows as well as using the spot healing tool to erase any unwanted marks and light spots.

Outcomes: Water, Earth and Fire – Black Background/Low Key Lighting


My first image in this small series presents a matchstick to represent the element of fire. This was the most simplistic way to address this natural form where it is also recognised as a man made object.  This image appears well composed with how the matchstick is viewed at an angle where we view the match’s tip at the nearest point.


This image presents sand to represent the element of earth in which I intended to fill the space further bringing emphasis on depth of field.  As seen in the image, the main pile of sand grains lie in focus at the cent of the image while other grains of sand are scattered across the background out of focus.  This image is effective in how the light brings our attention to the sand pile and this contrasts nicely against the darker background.


For this image, I used a small amount of water to form a simple oval droplet as the central subject matter. This was an interesting form to work with as I could use my own fingers to shape the water however I chose.  I created other simplistic shape from the water that may suggest more symbolic value, however, this image came to be the most successful as there is no confusion of the potentially representing something else and this was not my intention.

Installation View- As an installation piece, I would imagine these images to be large scale images of an approximate A0 size.




Outcomes: Water Experiments – Black Background/High key Lighting

For the second part of my experiments, I chose to focus on water alone where I became more playful with how water moves. I made some quick splashes on the surface of the board to give the water a dramatic form.  For this, I used a small light source once again to create high key lighting.

During post production when using Photoshop, I adjusted the colour balance and tonal contrast of the image to give it a cold, metallic appearance.  This gave the images further intensity to the lighting and water droplet shapes which made the images appear clean and modern.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 14.15.23

‘Splash’ no 1
‘Splash’ no 2
‘Splash’ no 3

Installation view- As an installation, this three piece series would be presented as follows. these would also be large scale prints of A0 size.



In conclusion, I have found this brief experiment beneficial towards my developments in how I intend to shoot the natural forms within an empty space.  Using a black background has also enlightened me to use this in more experiments as this presented a completely different appearance to the still life.  There is a big difference between each of the three piece series in which the first series representing three of the four elements displays a mysterious atmosphere where each form is carefully placed in a certain composition.  On the other hand, the second series focusing on water alone is imperfect as there is drama in how the water sits on the surface.

For my forthcoming experiments, I would like to observe the four elements within the wider interior space and also investigate ideas on how to represent the elemental form of air.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s