The Kitchen Table Studio: Part 1
People starting out in photography sometimes say, “If only I had a better camera…” or “If only I had a better lighting system…”. They often blame their results on the fact they don’t have a studio. It’s not the camera, lights or the studio that matter so much as how well you use your imagination. As a photographer, you have to make what you have work for you.
In this lesson, veteran advertising and celebrity photographer John Beckett gives us valuable lighting tips for still life subjects. John’s approach is casual and uncomplicated, but the core message is quite profound in its importance. If you follow his steps, you’ll see that his methods of controlling the light and refining the composition provide the reader with a roadmap to success. John’s concepts can be directly applied to tabletop and product shooting. As always, John lights with purpose.
- The Beauty and Versatility of ShoeMount Flashes
- No Studio? No Problem!
- Controlling Ambient Light
- Making a Custom Snoot
- Coming In Tight
- Paying Attention to the “Feel” of the Shot
- Creating Separation
- Determining Exposure Without a Light Meter
- Not Happy with “Good Enough”
- Camera Settings
- Nikon D300
- Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 (non AF) lens
The Beauty and Versatility of ShoeMount Flashes
It’s not uncommon for those starting out in photography to be uncomfortable using an off-camera flash. Instead, some choose to get by with their camera’s built-in flash for family shots or other typical “snapshot” subject matter, while others go so far as to buy construction lights from the local hardware store.
Sadly, each of these alternate options has significant limitations. Built-in flash lighting is the easiest solution, but it’s also the most unnatural-looking because it makes subjects appear two dimensional. It is unflattering for portraiture and unnatural for most other subject matter.
Construction lights and many other repurposed constant light sources can give off a significant amount of heat and quickly become uncomfortable and dangerous. They’re also not bright enough to allow for shooting at very high shutter speeds, and to put it bluntly, they don’t look very professional!
In this lesson, you’ll see how I use some simple ShoeMount flashes, a wireless trigger system, and a kitchen table to create beautiful lighting for still life images. [figure 1]