Digital Still Life Photography [Book Review]

Digital Still Life Photography [Book Review]

Digital Still Life PhotographyThis is a sumptuous book in a number of departments: it’s large, beautifully printed and full of useful, easily navigated information.

So why the word ‘digital’ in the book’s title?

Author Sint explains ‘I hate using Photoshop to correct my mistakes because I feel the time required to do so is both unproductive and unprofitable. … what I really love more than Photoshop is downloading pictures that I find pretty close to perfect the moment I open the image’s file.’

The book’s style is thoroughly disarming and direct to the point: when approaching a still life photograph the first step, Sint suggests, ‘is to spend a moment thinking about what type of photograph you are trying to create.’

He then describes the techniques in shooting simple setups on a plain background, the need for speed and the need to plan your shoot efficiently. After all, time is money and the more shots you can pack in per hour the higher your financial return. This book Sint affirms is about ‘how to make a living taking pictures …’

An initial step is to select a suitable shooting space. It should ideally be a big space, one that includes an office, shooting area, storage for props etc, conference area, makeup room and maybe a kitchen. However, in an effort to describe how little you really need, the author describes his own first studio: a room 250 square feet in area, containing his own twin bed, a dresser, small nightstand … with the remaining 225 square feet dedicated to the studio!

Next, you should assemble the necessary tools to make the space work: timber and the necessary power and hand tools; some form of canned compressed air or even a compressor and more. This is followed by three simple building projects: building a simple set flat; a diffusion screen; a light table.

The important subject of lighting gets serious attention, with tips on how to assemble and use a continuous light array, electronic flash, reflectors, barn doors and snoots, hair lights, scrims, a lighting umbrella etc. The variations in continuous and flash light are explained thoroughly and examples given as to which type suits what subjects.

To give an idea of the depth of detail found in the book, just go to pages 150 and 151 on clamps but not just ordinary clamps but ‘super clamps’! These can do so many more things on a still life shoot than merely position a light as they come in handy to build backgrounds etc.

More follows on soft and hard lighting, the colour of light sources, how to vary a lamp’s colour balance and filtration plus a useful primer on working with fluoro lighting and how to mix it with flash. Fluoros may be 20-30 per cent green in hue so you may filter the flash output with green gels and then add a magenta filter to the camera lens to bring everything back to a daylight balance.

A superb eight page section takes you step-by-step through the shoot of an expensive Cartier watch: how to pose it, light it, position fill lamps. And then there is the fundamental advice never to perform post editing on the original digital file: duplicate! And only work on a copy.

This book will be invaluable to the photographer who wants to move into the studio. Big time!

Author: S Sint.
Publisher: pixiq.
Distributor: Capricorn Link.
Size: 28x22x2cm.
Length: 271 pages.
ISBN: 978 1 4547 03273 3.
Price: Get a price on Digital Still Life Photography at Amazon (currently 50% off).

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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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