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flower vase with yellow flowers

Photo Credits: Anatoly Che/500px


Still Life is one of my favorite photography genres and comes second after Portraits. I like to photograph objects, gave them inner meaning, communicate with them. My compositions often remind you of old paintings. I want to use my images to convey a message about immortality and timeless beauty. On another side, when photographing food for example, I try to show the objects’ colours and make them look tasty and juicy which I believe give the viewers sensation of reality.


My plan for the “Still Life” project was full of ideas to start with.  I had a preparation list, props record, lighting set up and studio equipment that I thought I would need it for this project. I drew a few diagrams with my ideas of where the key light and fill light were supposed to be placed and directed, and what effect I wanted to achieve.

I have tried to pay attention to certain things like composition, space, time and what I would like to communicate by creating these photos. I researched several painters and photographers starting with Caravaggio, through Rembrandt and Vermeer and ending up with George Dunlop Leslie, Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee and photographer Ken Hunter.

On the day of the shoot I brought to the college studio a large quantity of props. I had limited time so I needed to set up the first composition quickly – and it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

After sorting out all the problems I had with the number of items, and set up the first composition, it was time to set the studio flashes. I decided to use octobox as a key light and softbox as a fill light for this project. It was more about choosing the right lighting shaping tools, and also the one which created more soft beams of light. I still prefer natural light from a window or continuous lighting for my fine art photography. Continuous lighting is easier in this respect, as it allows you to see the quality of light falling on your subject before you take the shot. But on the other hand we can’t easily make adjustments to power levels the way we can with flashes.

I used a light meter to measure the amount of light on my key light and the fill light and then on the object. According to the reading I was supposed to take the shot on F5,6 but after few trials I decided to change for F9.  I feel sometimes, when shooting studio projects, the best way to show how to do something right is by doing it wrong. Also during the session I have increased the key light power up to 11, which did helped to create shadows.  I shot the still life with my Canon 5D Mark III and Canon lens 24-70 mm EF 1:4 L.

Generally,I feel I over thought the whole idea with the large number of props I brought. I didn’t use all of them. There wasn’t time for it, and not all the compositions I visualized and drew on a piece of paper worked as I imagined. If I do this kind of shoot again I would focus more on preparation and a selection of items, unless I have enough time for disposition and preparation.

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For this part of project I used my own kitchen, and morphed into a studio. I do not have a very professional lighting system, but the one I operated worked well enough to achieve the result I wanted. I did experience some difficulty during the shoot but overall I think the home lighting studio was 70% effective. I was using two cameras: my Canon D5 Mark III and Mamiya Rz67 Pro.  The Mamiya is medium format 120-film camera. I was shooting with two different films – one black and white and one colour. 

In preparation I tried a few composition sets and reviewed them on the Cannon view screen before I made the final decision about how I wanted to proceed. I rebuilt the whole set a few times and changed props. As after the college studio shoot I was quite happy with the results of the digital images. With help from an editing program I would be able to present them along with the first set of images.  From the final set of the photos I chose three scenes to show to showcase the best image composition in my opinion. I would consider reducing the number of items for future projects.

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Using a film camera – It was the first time I had experimented with Mamiya Rz67 Pro. It was a learning process as I do not feel very comfortable and confident using film and the darkroom process at the moment, and I would like to improve my skill and experience. I forgot to take the silver plate out more than once, and a few times the flash bulb didn’t fire. I will be bearing this in mind when I will use this equipment again.

I decided to push the film’s ISO to 400. I was also using my intuition due to difficulty to with the lighting system. Most of the film photos I did shoot with F4, occasionally F8 and F2.8, and the shutter speed setting was 1/125 sec.

For the future I would like to improve my knowledge of analogue photography, and look forward to another chance to work on similar project with film cameras.


Summarising my work for final images I feel quite content with the result. I was careful choosing my selection and I paid a lot of attention to the details. Sometimes I strive for perfection in my images and always try to look for ways I can improve,but this relates to how my brain works and how I perceive the external and internal World order.I can describe myself as a perfectionist and an idealist.I believe I am developing my own style, and it definitely is heading towards Fine Art Photography.