As most of you know I’m always taking still life photographs! One of the common questions I get is “what inspires you to do this set up” and “how do I take photos like yours”? and the answer is simple; you just have to see with your mind and heart.
If you’re taking photos to get more views then think about what people like to see. I’ve always noticed that pictures of the babysbreath flower & coffee along with a large aperture of f/1.4+. But if you’re doing it for yourself, like I do, take a photo of something that means something to you, something that defines who you are as a person. I find these sort of shots always have more meaning and depth.
This was processed in Lightroom. The bokeh (blur) you see on the right is actually small branches but I’ve used that to create a dreamy effect.
Lets get started!
1. Set your mood
Think about what you want and how to portray it.
For example, I wanted something calming and soft.. and something that everyone could relate to. So I choose a book & a coffee cup. I wanted to get that feeling of when you’re sitting in the sun with a good book and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. A picture that you just glance at and instantly feel relaxed and in the situation.
2. Consider your equipment
I’ve never really been one of those people who pot around with a fancy flash or tripod. I like to keep things simple. But if you’re taking your photo at night time or have shaky hands then I recommend a tripod and maybe flash.
So here’s the equipment that I personally use:
- Canon 7D
- Canon 50mm f/1.4 (for the extra smooth bokeh)
- A table or something to place my objects
There it is, pretty much everything I ever use.
3. Find a suitable location
Personally, I have a huge soft spot for bokeh and lots of it! For this, I recommend going outside. I also tend to shoot in front of trees, or fences (the fence will create subtle lines in the background).. anything that will give me interesting bokeh. Another important thing to remember is to make sure you have natural light and lots of so you can crank DOWN your ISO. I always try to keep my ISO on 100 if possible to avoid noise (I hate noise). When I’ve found a suitable location I compose my objects.
4. Compose your subject
Think about how you want your subjects to be shown in the picture. Have the side with most detail in front of the camera and have this as your focus point. If you’re working with 2 objects don’t necessarily have them side by side. You can have them in a diagonal line or one behind the other… it all depends on what you want and I can’t stress enough to just experiment. Move things around until it looks good. If you’re working with one object move it to the left or right (I always find having it in the center is too ‘posed’) so usually I avoid this.
5. Compost your shot
Now you need to consider how you want to take the shot. I recommend getting down to the subjects level. You don’t have to take the picture straight on, you can slant the camera and have the object to the left, or slant it and have it to the right. But like I said, I usually prefer to keep things simple so I usually shoot straight on.
A quick tip for shooting the picture is to avoid having the sky in the photo. Other things such as background objects can make wonderful bokeh.
6. Set up your camera
Have your camera set on manual, or at least on Aperture mode. Depending on the current lighting situation you may need to raise your ISO or shutter speed to suit. Set your camera to the largest aperture (f/1.4+) as this isolates the background (aka bokeh or depth of field) and has only your subject in focus.
What I usually do:
- Set the aperture to f/1.4
- Raise the ISO (only if necessary)
7. Additional information
Another thing I never fail to do is recognise if the sun is out and if it is, what direction it’s at so I can shoot in the same direction but n0t necessarily INTO the sunlight. I usually set my shot up in front of the sun but shoot just at the side of it so I still have the extra soft sunlight in the picture. Although if I want sun flare in the photo I’ll shoot directly into the sun but move the camera around. The majority of the time I can see the little coloured dots as I’m looking through the camera, that’s how I know if my photo will have successful sun flare. Position it and shoot!
Here’s how mine turned out:
Processed with my Light & Bright Photoshop Action (warm bright).
Edited version II
Processed with my Soft Honey & Strawberry Action
Yeah, I couldn’t decide which one I liked the best so I posted both.
So there you have it! I really hope this post has helped you. If so, please comment and let me know!