One of the great things about photography is that you can practice it anywhere. You don’t need expensive equipment to get the shot or a massive studio to get the photos you need.
There’s a lot of problem-solving involved when practicing photography, and one of the things that will make you a better photographer is starting with a basic setup and working your way up, and if you’re stuck at home, there’s no better time to try out some new techniques.
While fighting the lockdown blues, I decided to challenge myself by creating a still life image with various items I found around the house. The goal was to create a classic-looking image, reminiscent of a Caravaggio painting, and use the cheapest equipment around — no use of fancy flashes or studio equipment. I wanted to challenge myself by shooting it in a garage, using standard bulbs to light the subject, and later, combining all the images in Photoshop.
The unprocessed image, showing a single light source from camera left.
I set up two Elinchrom studio flashes first, but I only intended to use the modeling lamps as I wanted to see if I was able to achieve the look and feel I wanted by using two ordinary 100-watt bulbs one can find in most lights around the house. I used a Canon 5D Mark II and a 100mm macro f/2.8 lens on a tripod, using a remote release to fire off the shutter. I took a few images with one light on and another one was off, so I could later combine the two images with different lighting and paint in the details. If I decided I wasn’t happy with both lights, I could always hide the images I shot of the bothersome light and use the light that gave me a look I was after.
Two images blended together to paint in details in the shadows and create a more painterly feel to the overall picture.
For a step-by-step guide to processing this image, have a look at the video at the beginning of this article.
In conclusion, the image came out quite close to what I wanted to achieve. It was great to see one doesn’t need a fancy studio and expensive lights to create the images you want to create.
Have you learned any new techniques recently?