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Studio Still Life

Studio still life composition

I wouldn't necessarily call this a really successful photo but the story of the making is quite interesting. It was shot for a competition that the manufacturers of Quorum ran when they first launched the product in the UK.

Setting up and taking this photo took the best part of a week. Having decided that I wanted the bottle to 'float' on water and be lit from underneath, the first thing I had to do was to cut a hole in an old plastic tray and stick a piece of transparent perspex in the hole with putty. The hole had to be just behind the bottle so that no light came up in front of it. Then I put a flash light under the makeshift table and another over the top. I painted the tray black and used black plasticine to support the bottle.

To get the light to spread smoothly on the back of the bottle I stuck tracing paper on it. This was the first real problem because as soon as I made waves in the water the tracing paper would get wet and make a horrible smudge on the back of the bottle. Making the paper shorter was no good because then you could see the edge. So the paper had to be exactly, to the millimeter, the right height.

Worse was to come, as the hot lights warmed up the whole set, the tray with all the water in started to warp causing a leak in the bottom of the tray where the clear plastic was. Water was now dripping down onto my flash light threatening to send me to meet my maker at any moment. So after a bit of trial and a lot of error, I worked out how long I could have the lights on for lining up and focusing before the tray would start to leak.

The background was a piece of back projection screen that I had lying around, but it could just as easily have been done using tracing paper (the studio photographer's best friend), with a colored light shining through. The couple and the 'mountains' were cut out of black paper and stuck onto the background. All I had to do then was waggle my finger in the water to make the waves (not tooo much, not too little) and press the shutter with the other hand. (see tips on studio lighting)

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