Stating publicly that you are “A Photographer” leaves you highly susceptible to a not so rare disease called Gear Lust. It’s a malady that leaves you craving all the latest whiz-bang, does everything for you, equipment that is sure to raise your images to levels previously unknown to mankind. There does not seem to be a permanent cure for this disease.
Being a still life photographer takes this to a whole new level. A secondary side affect will develop in which you will begin to lust for lighting equipment. I’ve suffered with this for far longer than I care to mention. I have monolights on stands, and monolights on booms. I have LED panels, and torch lights. I have softboxes, umbrellas, grids, snoots, diffusers, flags, reflectors, gels, and on and on.
So where does this lead me? Let’s take the image above which is titled “Ghosts of Parties Past”. I had the concept for a shot with dusty old wine bottles in a rustic setting. I have an old workbench in the back of my garage that I thought would give the right mood. After a few months of learning how to create an aged, old, dusty look on wine bottles, I created my subjects and was ready to go.
I took the props to the garage and set things up. Now it was time to decide just how much lighting equipment I would need to haul out there to finish the shot. Then I looked one more time at the set-up. Oh My Gosh!. It looked almost perfect just as it was. The angels were singing and all was right with the world. I experimented with opening and closing the garage door to varying degrees and found that with the door closed and only the light through a row of windows in the top of the door, I was set. It was an overcast day and the diffused light was wonderful. I only added a small black foam board to the right of the shot to knock down some reflected light coming back into the shot. Well, so much for all that equipment.
Yes, I did have a bit of a laugh with myself thinking about all that money spent, and equipment, that I’ve accumulated. It just goes to show that it’s not always about the equipment. I’ve used this location several times since this shoot using backdrops, and yes, some added lighting on occasion. It is a good example that you can create quite a shot by using what’s available. It’s certainly a good place for newcomers to start. A garage, or perhaps a window and table in your home, could be your first studio. Many other possibilities exist. Take a moment to look at your area. Where could you set up a shot. A nice overcast day can give you incredible light that’s hard to match with artificial sources.
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