Updated: Jun 1, 2020
I often take a photograph and think to myself it's OK but a bit boring!! That's why I love to experiment with my creativity both in camera and in post production. I often say my photography is about 40% what I do in camera and 60% what I do in post production. Having said that it's important to ensure you get that first 40% right. For example no amount of editing is going to be able to get an out of focus subject looking sharp.
Indoor table top photography is an ideal way to practice all types of photography from nature and macro to portrait within the confines of your home. The main advantage being that the subject stays still and does wonder off bored while you get your lighting and camera settings spot on. The same lighting techniques to light up a person can be used to light up flowers, an ornament, a stack of tins from the cupboard or literally anything you happen to have laying around in the house.
Here is a typical example of one of my home studio set ups. A role of white paper, to provide a non distracting background. Remotely triggered Speedlite flash guns mounted onto two soft boxes. The soft boxes spread the light and make it less harsh. With this lighting set up I would normally have my camera set to f11, 1/125 sec shutter speed on ISO 100. I then adjust the speedlite flash settings to suit. Note the position of the lights which create a "clamp" lighting effect from both sides, above, below and in front of the object. To give a nice even light. Don't be scared to move your lights to suit. With an all white background try and get a little bit of shadow to the base of your object so that you get a bit of ground perspective, otherwise you can get a floating in mid air look. With a black background try not to go too dark around the base for the same reason.
If you don't have any lighting equipment like mine then a plain wall, or a piece of card on a table will work just as well. Use natural lighting from a window and adjust your camera settings to suit. Just watch out for any unwanted shadows. Kitchen foil can be used as an effective light reflector.
So you now have your images and are ready to process. Below are some examples of ideas you may like to try out.
Here is one of my original images. Personally I found the flower in the background rather distracting so I decided to remove it using Photoshop. Because of location and proximity to the foreground flower I could not effectively use the spot removal or cloning tools very easily. Instead I decided to use the rectangular marque tool to make a selection of the black background to the right of the image. I then copied and pasted it into a new layer. Moved it across the flower I wanted to remove, then using layer masking revealed the part of the image which had been obscured that I still wanted to keep.
This is the result. I much tidier image. I then decided I wanted to enhance it a bit more. I added some more contrast and colour vibrance in Lightroom, I also added a soft focus filter from the DXO Nik Collection.
This was the resulting effect. I then decided to have a play with some of the effects from the Photoshop filter gallery.
And this was the final look I came up with using one of the paint effect filters.
Idea number 2.
Here is my original image of my Mother's Day flowers. Beautiful photograph but that did not stop me from wanting to experiment a bit further with it. First I added a soft focus filter from the DXO Nik Collection. Then in Lightroom I applied the flat green colour precept and applied a little more saturation to the magenta and red's colours. Adjusting these separately stopped the greens from becoming too vibrant.
This is the result. I then decided to add some additional effects.
It's always useful to build up your own library of texture shots. This is a shot of some fibres which I used to layer over the top of my flowers. Using the "Hue" mode it created a blue effect to the petals with a subtle patterned texture.
I then put a second layer on with an image of one of my bathroom tiles. On Normal mode I took the opacity down to get the subtle back ground effect. I then used masking to reveal the flowers more clearly.
This is the result I got. I then decided to add a texture from the Photoshop filter gallery. Sandstone or canvas texturises tend to be my favourites.
Look closely and you can see a very subtle texture difference.
To finish it off I applied a paint effect as well.
As long as you always keep a copy of your original you literally have nothing to loose. Don't be afraid to experiment.
If you want to learn more about table top/Still Life photography and Post Production Editing then why not sign up for one of my workshops or 1 to 1 sessions. Skype/Online options currently available during the current Corona crisis.
The following is a link to an article on Still Life by pixa which makes for an interesting read.