Still Life Practice – Studio Lighting Techniques


For this photo session, I have practiced with more focus on lighting techniques rather than concept to achieve a better understanding of how I can use light to enhance my narratives.   Using ordinary objects, I created a set up where I have used two standard lights that are flash ready against a plain backdrop.

Contact Sheets

Low Key VS High Key Lighting 

For this technique, I used only one of the lights to capture the subject with a shadow on one side .  I took the same image with several F. stops to help see the difference between the exposures.  I also moved the light around the subject matter to sit more closely next to the camera in which this brought about less intensity and made the subject matter appear quite flat.



I then used more power in the flash settings to capture the subject matter at a more defined exposure and used a reflector to bounce the light back on the shadowed side. The closer the reflector was to the object, the lighter the shadow became.


Flagging Out

Th second technique I experimented with was lighting the foreground with the subject matter but also blacking out the background.  To do this, I faced one light away from the set towards a white polly board in which this would bounce the light back to the set up, however the board is moved in a position where its shadow appears behind the set up. This separates the foreground from the background to display a lit area against complete darkness.



Controlling reflections

To experiment with capturing controlled reflection against particular objects, I used an additional poly board and shone the light toward the gap, creating a narrow direction of light.  As a results this created a controlled strip of light upon objects with shiny surfaces. I then used a second light to sync which shaped an additional light strip on the other side of the subject matter.  This revealed more of the objects shape making it appear 3-Dimensional.




Using Coloured Filters

I also used additional equipment including the honeycomb and the beauty dish to shape the lighting to create wide and narrow effects.  But attaching gels to these lights, this changed the colouring of the background, foreground and both at the same time.  I also increased the exposure of the flash to create a more luminous appearance to the lighting as well as turning one light away again to bounce light back.  As well as this, I turned off the modelling light and used one light to capture the subject matter from one side only.  This created various effects where using this technique made the images appear very futuristic and moody.



Directing the Flash

I also tried directing the flash from behind the subject matter and lighting the forefront at at low key.  This created further dramatic effects that gave an inverted appearance in lighting.




Lighting from below

I also used a light to shine under a reflective still life table to create more intense lighting in the background. I placed a second light on one side of the set up at a low angle.  As the table reflects light, I found wavy lines appear in the images on the background.  this is because the light from below is crossing paths with the light from above.  However this could be decreased by increasing the exposure and moving the lights around.




In conclusion, I found this experimentation very useful toward my knowledge of lighting techniques and this has also given me more options to take advantage of lighting to represent aspects of my narrative themes.

I found this experiment a challenge as it was difficult to correct the exposure when bouncing light off other tools, however, I have learned more methods of how i can use light alone to bring across enhanced atmosphere.




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