Still Life Experiments – Four Elements and Air

This week, I have experimented with objects within a studio environment to practice a cleaner style of still life photography.  To experiment with the element of air, I used feathers to represent this as this relates to animals of nature.  I also used other small materials to observe other aspects that could relate to this element as well as others.

This experiment has presented to me how I can picture a final outcome with high key lighting against a plain backdrop with a focus on crisp detail and form.  For the photo shoot set up, I used two standard lights where I maintained constant lighting and also the Infinity still life table to compose my subject matter.  I used a Nikon D810 camera with a 55mm fixed lens.


Contact Sheets

Post Production

During the post production process, I made minor adjustments to the images as I wanted to keep the simplistic quality.  Some shadow was visible on the edges of the images so I used the crop tool to cut out these areas.  I also cropped the images because as I was using a fixed lens, I occasionally found it difficult to photograph the subject matter to a very close range.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 12.12.35

I also adjusted the brightness and exposure of the images as some areas were overexposed.  I also used the spot healing tool to erase any unwanted marks seen upon the surface.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 12.15.35



This first image gives a high quality value in detail and lighting.  I gave this image a slight blue hue using the colour balance tool in Photoshop to emphasise with the colouring of the feathers bluish-grey colouring.  Although the tip of the feather is out of focus, it is a strong image in aspects of composition.


This image captures a feather from a sharper angle and reveals detail that is imperfect.  This aspect could suggest narratives of damage or even death as the feather has lost some of its value.


I also photographed a small feather with more fluff to it.  As this subject matter was no bigger than a thumbnail and it was also very white, I decided to use shadow to support its form against the background.  I also made very minor adjustments in terms of lighting in which I had to lower the exposure in order to show contrast between the feather and background.


For this image, I used different com positioning where I stood the feather up to create a cropped perspective of the subject matter.  I think this image works well as there is an increased sense of empty space and once again, the detail of the feather is very fine.


This image also presents a broader perspective of empty space; taking this photograph as a portrait also gives a vast sense of distance between the viewer and the feather. This image brings about a softer appearance as the feather itself is fluffier which displays its light weight value.


I also used a flower as additional subject matter to experiment with creating a narrative relationship between more than one subject similarly to how I have pursued this in previous project experiments (The Pebble and the Acorn).  I think the composition somewhat works well, however, there is a lack of relating the objects together in terms of ‘Air’.  A different subject may have been more suitable that could relate more to this element, however despite this, the image brings an engaging quality.


I also photographed a ball of string and additional objects to bring about other ideas of relation to the natural elements.  These images has some potential in relating to the element of fire, however they do not possess a strong relation. I also wanted to reduce colour and enhance colour on different images, for example, the image featuring the balloon presented too much colour so I made this image black and white to keep a neutral appearance.



To summarise this activity, I feel confident in using this style of photography potentially for my final outcome of the project.  The images from this session bring a serene atmosphere that is still and controlled.  The subject matter used for this also brings about other ideas of how feathers could even relate to the natural state of sleep where I may consider bringing this subject back and use it to create an interactive scene involving slumber.  Some images are not perfect as there is some reflection in the background as I was photographing the subject matter on a slightly reflective surface but overall, there is definitely potential in using white backgrounds and portraiture with still life for my final piece.


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