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5 Tips for Still Life Photography


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Use Interesting Lighting Effects
Interesting lighting will highlight shadows and give still objects a little movement.
Interesting lighting will highlight shadows and give still objects a little movement.
©iStockphoto.com/knape

For still life photos, some say lighting is just as important as composition. That's because lighting can drastically affect the tone of your shot, change color saturation, and even make objects seem denser or lighter. Keep your numerous options in mind: You can use just one light source, multiple lights or various tools to help you manipulate light.

Professional lighting equipment can get quite expensive, but it isn't necessary, especially when you're just starting out. Natural light is perfectly fine, especially if you can soften it with a white sheet over a window [source: Fier]. Photographer Michael Freeman writes that you can use household items that are translucent or reflective to play with light effects. He emphasizes that the only strict rule is that the lighting, above all, can't be boring [source: Freeman].

Hedgecoe goes over the different effects, saying that head-on light has a form-flattening effect, while lighting from the side brings out surface traits. Harsh lighting can wash out colors, while low light makes colors richer [source: Hedgecoe]. It's not advisable to use the camera's on-board flash, which makes an image harsh and unrealistic.

Shadow is an important factor, too. White backgrounds will reveal shadows, while black can hide them. You can play with the shadow and light on an object to help provide a visual balance between the two [source: Freeman].