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09-19-2018, 07:00 PM   #16
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Lots of great shots, several made me smack my forehead and say "why didn't I ever think of that?" This thread is inspiring me to go digging for a few objects I've been saving for a still life I've never tried.

I prefer creating slightly elevated or oblique shots rather than directly at or directly over the main subjects, I think it adds depth to the shot.

Also, I have noticed that most still life paintings seem to have everything in perfect focus no matter their distance from the camera, it's like anti-bokeh style!

09-19-2018, 07:20 PM - 2 Likes   #17
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Lol the masters all paint at f16.
09-19-2018, 08:43 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by robgski Quote
Still Life style, IMO, does have arrangements designed to show the objects both singly and as a whole,
A very profound point.
09-19-2018, 08:47 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by noelcmn Quote
About time we had a thread for this-good one Swanlefitte. I have a few


Just noticed the pear. Do not know what it means but it tickles my soul.

09-19-2018, 08:50 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote


---------- Post added 09-19-18 at 05:05 PM ----------

Love how the smaller marbles relate to the large sphere. I love how the black marking sew the crayons together.
09-19-2018, 08:53 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
The shading top right to bottom left and changing by egg is wonderful.
09-20-2018, 07:05 AM - 2 Likes   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by robgski Quote
This thread is inspiring me to go digging for a few objects I've been saving for a still life I've never tried.
Look forward to your masterpieces! Bring it on!

QuoteOriginally posted by swanlefitte Quote
Just noticed the pear. Do not know what it means but it tickles my soul.
Nothing in particular, just part of my fruit diet I engage in from time to time (read "once in a blue moon ) that I decided to have some fun with.

Here's me and my pears on another blue moon occasion or probably from the same time period. These taken at the shop where I worked for a short while, using the polystyrene packaging materials




Apples on top of a large water drum -Same shop
09-20-2018, 12:51 PM - 1 Like   #23
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I've been trying to work out a definition for the term "still life" as it applies to photography, but not having much luck.

Wikipedia says:
"A still life (plural: still lifes) is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which are either natural (food, flowers, dead animals, plants, rocks, shells, etc.) or man-made (drinking glasses, books, vases, jewelry, coins, pipes, etc.).[1]"

Encyclopedia Britannica:
"Still-life painting, depiction of inanimate objects for the sake of their qualities of form, colour, texture, and composition."

This article from the Tate museum says:
"... the subject matter of a still life painting or sculpture is anything that does not move or is dead."

These 3 definitions agree that the subject matter should be 'inanimate' - perhaps formerly living, but now dead. Anyone who has looked at a few dozen (or a few hundred) still life paintings <such as these> will notice that the subject matter is often fruit and/or vegetables combined with common household items of glass or metal; usually arranged on a table top, often including fabric table cloths or napkins. <Still life photographs> are much the same.

But do the subjects define the genre, or is it the intent? Britannica touches on intent: "...for the sake of their qualities of form, colour, texture, and composition" The Tate article says: "Still life can be a celebration of material pleasures such as food and wine, or often a warning of the ephemerality of these pleasures and of the brevity of human life."

I interpret these to mean that the intent of the still life artist can range from, "Look at these pretty shapes and colors and the way the light plays over my composition" - to, "Life is short, and one day you will die "

As for the composition, the painters usually arrainged their objects on a table top; but I believe, as photographers, it is valid for us to go out into the world and make our compositions by moving our cameras to choose the frame and angle of our shots to compose our objects without necessarily arranging the objects themselves. Although I frequently do improve a found composition by making minor adjustments.

For example, in the photo below I did move a couple of the cigarette filters a little bit to even up the composition:
(sorry, this one is not from my Pentax)


Last edited by runswithsizzers; 09-20-2018 at 01:33 PM. Reason: photo added
09-20-2018, 03:17 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by runswithsizzers Quote

For example, in the photo below I did move a couple of the cigarette filters a little bit to even up the composition:
(sorry, this one is not from my Pentax)
Very creative!

Most of this one was arranged by nature, but I did put the buckeye there, and used some sticks to position the camera at ground level and did not have to lay on the ground thank to the flip screen on the Sony. I used the sony because of the macro lens, I forgot to bring my Sigma macro for the KP,
09-22-2018, 03:56 AM   #25
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09-22-2018, 05:54 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by runswithsizzers Quote
I've been trying to work out a definition for the term "still life" as it applies to photography, but not having much luck.


But do the subjects define the genre, or is it the intent? Britannica touches on intent: "...for the sake of their qualities of form, colour, texture, and composition" The Tate article says: "Still life can be a celebration of material pleasures such as food and wine, or often a warning of the ephemerality of these pleasures and of the brevity of human life."

I interpret these to mean that the intent of the still life artist can range from, "Look at these pretty shapes and colors and the way the light plays over my composition" - to, "Life is short, and one day you will die "
Yes to both intents. Think of all those memento mori placed in both portraits and still life paintings.

I think it's safe to substitute the word "photograph" for the word "painting" in the definitions above. Still-life started in paintings, likely because paints allowed colors and shapes, and light for a 3-D setting to be presented in a two dimensional medium. As I mentioned above, most still life painting still give a feel of three dimensions, mostly but using light, shadow, and relative size to create that effect.

Also, I've seen some excellent current day still life paintings with modern objects used in lieu of the fruits, vegetables, and wooden objects of the Renaissance period. When done well it also points out the dual intents you describe above.


QuoteOriginally posted by runswithsizzers Quote
As for the composition, the painters usually arrainged their objects on a table top; but I believe, as photographers, it is valid for us to go out into the world and make our compositions by moving our cameras to choose the frame and angle of our shots to compose our objects without necessarily arranging the objects themselves. Although I frequently do improve a found composition by making minor adjustments.

For example, in the photo below I did move a couple of the cigarette filters a little bit to even up the composition:
(sorry, this one is not from my Pentax)
A professional photojournalist and documentary photographer once gave me his opinion, that in his field, one should not arrange the objects in the scene, to one's liking, one is merely an observer, so one should only changes one's own POV to capture the scene. If that is the case, IMO, a still life photographer is under no restriction from arranging objects as fits the intent of the photographer.


As an example, using the image of the cigarettes above. If you had posted something like "I was walking along and came upon this scene and took a picture of it" there is an implication that everything was laying in that arrangement naturally and you only observed it and took a picture, which could be considered a still life. If, however you'd arranged the cigarettes, and taken a picture because you like the way it looked, or as a commentary on smoking, sidewalks, or crosses, and the symbolism of all of those elements, it would still be a still life, but it would not be a documentary photograph.

---------- Post added 09-22-18 at 08:56 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by noelcmn Quote
Look forward to your masterpieces! Bring it on!

Cool photos, clever arrangements. Since the pears and apples share the same colors, a pear among the apples would have created an interesting juxtaposition.
09-22-2018, 07:32 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by robgski Quote
[...]

As an example, using the image of the cigarettes above. If you had posted something like "I was walking along and came upon this scene and took a picture of it" there is an implication that everything was laying in that arrangement naturally and you only observed it and took a picture, which could be considered a still life. If, however you'd arranged the cigarettes, and taken a picture because you like the way it looked, or as a commentary on smoking, sidewalks, or crosses, and the symbolism of all of those elements, it would still be a still life, but it would not be a documentary photograph.
With the cigarette photo, I could have gone either way. The differences between what I first saw, and my final "arrangement" are so minor, many people might not notice. In a way, I was documenting something I found, but I felt no obligation to refrain from exercising my artistic instincts to "improve" upon what chance had provided. And I was not unaware that a cross made of cigarettes would be interpreted as making some kind of comment, but I certainly did not wake up that morning and say "Today, I need to make a photograph about smoking (or Christianity, or littering)."

But my bigger point is this: Lacking traditional still life subject matter, and not being set up on a table top, etc. - is the cigarette photo a still life? Actually, I don't care so much if that particular photo gets labeled as still-life, or street, or whatever. What I am trying to discover are the boundaries of what is meant when we talk about still life photography.

I take a lot of photos that I call 'still lifes' for lack of a better word. But they are not at all like traditional table-top still lifes. Most of these are too big to be called close ups, too small to be called landscapes. Mostly, they catch my eye as pleasing colors, shapes and textures, with somewhat interesting light and shadows, but the objects are rather ordinary and not particularly interesting. They are not meant to have deeper meaning, although many of the objects I find interesting are rather old and worn - take that for what you will.

Examples below (apologies to those who may have already seen these posted elsewhere). Are they still lifes, and if not, do they fit into some other genre?





09-22-2018, 10:20 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by runswithsizzers Quote

But my bigger point is this: Lacking traditional still life subject matter, and not being set up on a table top, etc. - is the cigarette photo a still life? Actually, I don't care so much if that particular photo gets labeled as still-life, or street, or whatever. What I am trying to discover are the boundaries of what is meant when we talk about still life photography.

...

Examples below (apologies to those who may have already seen these posted elsewhere). Are they still lifes, and if not, do they fit into some other genre?
Now I understand the distinction you are making. FWIW, I do consider the traditional "objects arranged on a flat surface with a distinct (and generally not distracting) background" the closest to the definition and examples from painting, and I prefer that definition. The constraint of the traditional still life force one to compose the picture, as opposed to a picture of merely "found objects".

I don't know what some of those examples you posted would be called, hopefully someone else with an art history background has an answer.
09-22-2018, 12:59 PM   #29
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I was going to go to the craft beer fest or the chicken fest but we have sporadic downpours in 100 degree heat so I did a shot.
Decided on spray nozzles for my still life.

It turned out boring so I did some photoshop to highlight the oddball can. It looks more interesting but fake. So I went back and gridded a strobe to light the can. Much better. Still nothing special but it shows how a subject and lighting enhances even a dull photo.


09-22-2018, 03:09 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by robgski Quote
FWIW, I do consider the traditional "objects arranged on a flat surface with a distinct (and generally not distracting) background" the closest to the definition and examples from painting, and I prefer that definition. The constraint of the traditional still life force one to compose the picture, as opposed to a picture of merely "found objects".
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. What follows is not an argument or rebuttal but just me trying to work out the meaning of still life photography.

The word "compose" can mean a couple of different things. In the case of a table top still life, the artist can move the objects around to suit. We also consider landscapes to have composition, but the landscape artist does not have the option to physically move the trees and mountains around. In the case of landscapes, the artist chooses a composition through a combination placing the camera in the right spot, selecting the correct focal length lens, choosing the camera angle that gives the best layout, and framing the scene for balance.

I believe at least two of my three photo examples meet your requirement that the objects be deliberately arranged by the artist. I moved the yellow wheelbarrow to a different position to change the play of light and shadows and its relationship to the woodpile; the green watering can was on the other side of the garden until I moved next to the tiller, carefully arranged to make it look as if I just found it that way.

The water meter image brings up the question, Can a single object qualify as a composition? For example, would you allow a single vase on a table top as a still life?

The intent of my examples is covered by the Encyclopedia Britannica definition of a still-life painting, "...depiction of inanimate objects for the sake of their qualities of form, colour, texture, and composition." So if my examples are not still lifes, then it must be due to my non-traditional subject matter? Or is it the missing table top?
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