Rain. Whether it’s your first time or you are a seasoned professional, the word rain can bring a sense of dread to any photographer.
As I stand in my pyjamas, holding my fresh-brewed coffee and look outside the window. Grey skies and heavy rains fill my view, high-winds cause scenes as I watch my neighbours rubbish bins scurry along the roads, making their way from one end of the street to the other in a desperate bid for shelter. “Someone should get those” I think to myself, before taking a sip of my coffee and retreating to the sofa.
One day, when I have the right equipment and can plan further than 24 hours ahead, I might just take my chances in the drizzly world and capture the beauty of rain but today, in fear of getting my camera wet and an honest tossup between being toasty and warm or wet and cold, I’ve opted to keep my photography indoors, with a fun idea in mind.
Now I can’t take credit for this idea, I happened upon it whilst doing the daily scroll through the inter-web, and perhaps even you reading this might have given it a go, but when I discovered it I fell in love with the endless possibilities and the idea of taking an every-day object that might otherwise seem uninteresting and overlooked, and turning it into something beautiful and thought provoking, simply by getting creative with a camera. Added bonus, it’s a really good way to play about with your camera and try different settings, as I learned myself.
Using an egg seems to be a popular choice online but seeing that I didn’t have an egg and I had already committed to not stepping outside, I have chosen to use the modest kiwifruit instead.
Now that my object had been chosen, the next step was to brainstorm and think of ways in which I could showcase my kiwi. Changing the light, background or arrangement was a good start. I knew I wanted to get a macro shot but my other images fell to trial and error.
The inspiration for the macro shot comes from the skin. Those of you that have eaten, seen or held a kiwi will notice the fine layer of fuzz that encases this delicious fruit. Usually discarded, this ‘fuzz’ has a high nutritional value and is 100% edible (if you can get past the texture of what I can only imagine eating a tennis ball would feel like). I wanted to capture these little hairs as they delicately interlace with each other and, in some miraculous way, I managed to capture this image on my third shot! Overall pleased with the results and feeling a little smug, I move onto the next scene.
Having completed the only photo I had truly planned for and doing it at a faster pace than expected, I sat back down and pondered my next idea. Light. Now, I don’t have fancy studio-lights, and on little searching I couldn’t even find a ‘classic’ fairy light. So instead, I found myself, albeit rather embarrassingly, holding a lamp or using my phone-torch, in the middle of the day when a light of that strength makes absolutely no difference. In hindsight, it was never going to work. Having scrapped that idea, I turned to the natural light which wasn’t having one of its better days either, but was good enough to ruin my artificial light, that’s for sure. After moving my kiwi around from room to room I find a little nook in the kitchen.
This image was taken on my kitchen worktop and is using the natural light from a window that sits on the other side of the room, which quite fittingly, made this little corner dark. I personally like how the light bounces off the kiwi and contrasts against the darkness, overall creating a quite simple look. You can also get a feel for the texture of the skin. Looking back, I think a little more reflection underneath could have really made this image stand out.
Juggling my kiwis around, I clumsily drop one and watch it roll along on the floor. As I bend over to pick it up, I hesitate. In that moment, I decide that my next image was going to come from the ground.
Keeping the kiwi as the focus point, this time I wanted to bring something to the background and luckily my dog, who was having his afternoon nap at the time, made the pawfect model. I kept my aperture low to be sure that the focus stayed on the kiwi and again, the natural light helped form shadows. I took a few photos this way but felt that even with the background blurred, the image was too colourful and noisy, and the focus was being taken away. That’s when the black and white lightbulb struck. Personally, I find black and white images produce an effect of minimalism, and it really helped ‘dull down’ my image without in fact, making it dull.
Having taken a collection of photos where I had one half of a kiwi leaning against a whole one, I realised that I needed to shake things up a bit. My kiwi had grown tired of that pose, it had more potential.
So, without any planning or thought, I took a knife and chopped it up into pieces, stood back, and this was the result. A big illuminous-green pile of lushness sitting on a galaxy-esque worktop. I liked it, so decided not to do anything more, just clicked.
Now the final image I’d like to share with you might come as a surprise. It is surprising in the way that I don’t like the way it came out and most photographers wouldn’t publish work that they weren’t happy with. However, I am learning, and I think it’s important to highlight your flaws as well as your strengths as there is always room for improvement and it gives you something to compare to in the future. Photography isn’t perfect, it’s subjective. In this image I tried an abstract approach by using a mirror which as you can see, was reflecting the walls and ceiling of my tiny kitchen. The kiwi fuzz sheds like a Labrador, hence all the little white specs and the fruit itself isn’t as sharp as I would like it. Though I like the idea behind the image, I am not in love with it. But trial and error is all part of the fun and who knows, perhaps in the future I’ll nail this shot.
Although I had originally planned to go out this week, Mother Nature had other plans, and I’m kind of glad she did. I got a chance to do something new, I enjoy taking photographs, but my inspiration usually comes from the great outdoors. I had never considered still life and had lots of fun doing this. I took plenty more photos (but I won’t keep you here all day) and I had ideas for many more. There are infinite ways of shooting an object, and I would encourage you to have a look around your house and see what you can come with.
Side note, a little advice from a novice-photographer. This is a really good way to get to know your camera settings and play around. Kiwis and other objects don’t move, so you can really mess about and find out what works and doesn’t.
Please leave a comment and include your own photos of still life, I’m super interested in seeing what you guys come up with and I’ll share my favourite images.
Have a lovely weekend
& happy snapping,