Still life photography is one kind of photography that can earn you a decent amount of money. If you are good at this genre, you can work for businesses to help them advertise their products. Photos of products sold in print ads, magazines, and even e-commerce websites fall under this category.
However, to get many clients, you need to have an edge on other photographers. Capturing images of still life subjects may seem easy, but it is not that simple. To create the best still life photos, you need to make everything work properly—the actual presentation of the subject, your skills, and the equipment you use.
Elements to Consider
There are different factors to consider when shooting still life photos. You need to understand the components that affect the quality of your pictures. Understanding how these elements work will help you master the camera settings required for still life photography. Here are those elements:
Of course, your photos depend primarily on the object that you will be shooting. Each subject is dealt with differently because of varying factors, such as size, location, texture, and the purpose of capturing their images.
For instance, since food pictures are meant to make consumers drool, they are often taken from a high angle to capture the entire presentation on the plate. Plus, it is often zoomed in to highlight the texture of the dish. On the other hand, tabletop photos of items like a book, a wine glass, or a vase usually depend more on the background for aesthetics; therefore, proper composition elements, such as the rule of thirds, need to be considered.
Proper usage of lights is necessary for still life photography. For this reason, it is essential to find the best tools that will help you achieve the best lighting for your shoots.
Investing in lighting equipment is a must if you want to pursue still life photography as a business. Having an artificial lighting system will help you upgrade the quality of your photos. However, if you are only starting or do not have the budget, then you need to learn how to take advantage of natural light.
For Instagramable shots, most photographers prefer working with natural light. You can easily take full advantage of natural light by investing in bounce cards, reflectors, and diffusers to help light your subject.
Backdrops also play an important role in achieving successful still life shots. The best backdrops are those that are not distracting. Hence, keep them clean and straightforward. For instance, professionals prefer white, black, or plain-colored backgrounds.
In choosing a backdrop, you need to think about how a specific background will contrast your subject. You need to look for tones that will complement the color hues of your subject, or you can opt for a neutral backdrop to be safe and avoid unwanted distractions. Smaller subjects do not need much background - just a good surface on which to place them will do. A black surface is excellent since it absorbs light and helps make the subject stand out.
In addition to these basic components, camera settings will also contribute to the success of your still life photos. This is another part of photography that you have to master.
What are the Camera Settings Needed for Still Life Photography?
You must understand how your camera settings work. For still life photography specifically, make sure you master the following three settings:
Aperture is responsible for controlling the amount of light that hits the camera sensor. The f-stop system, which ranges from f/1 to f/22, is used to measure aperture. The aperture affects two components: the amount of light that hits the sensor, and the picture's depth of field. The smaller the aperture number, the more light your camera sensor will receive, which will result in faster shutter speed. Moreover, a smaller f-stop results in a shallower depth of field, which leads to more areas in front and behind your subject that are blurry and less focused.
For still life photography, you should set your aperture to the largest f-stop possible considering your lighting situation. This will allow enough light into the camera lens to properly expose your subject while making sure that all parts of your subject are in focus. If necessary, stop-down (or decrease the aperture) to meet your shooting requirements.
ISO is the camera sensor’s sensitivity to light and usually ranges from 100 to 3200. The lower your ISO setting, the less light-sensitive your camera sensor is. Higher ISO settings make your sensor more light-sensitive but also increases camera “noise” or the grains in your photos.
For still life photography, especially if you are shooting products for advertisements, it is recommended that you select the lowest ISO possible to minimize image noise. Begin with the lowest ISO and adjust it upwards until the subject is exposed correctly.
3. Shutter Speed
Also called exposure time, shutter speed refers to the duration the camera sensor is exposed to light. This is usually measured in fractions of a second. Simply put, it is the speed with which the camera shutter opens and closes. Slow shutter speeds help create motion blurs, while fast shutter speeds freeze the object.
In product photography and shooting other still life subjects, it is recommended that you use low shutter speeds. The lower the shutter speed, the sharper the image. However, make sure your camera is mounted on a tripod to avoid any motion blurs.
More Help for Still Life Photography
With the right camera settings, you can perfect still life photography. Some devices can help you shoot more conveniently.
One such device is the Smart Camera Trigger from MIOPS. This wireless trigger is handy when using artificial lighting, such as flashguns, speedlights, or light strobes. You can also use this trigger if you have to shoot with more than one camera.
Related Article: How to Take Still Life Photos Using a High-Speed Camera Trigger