In the introduction to my Still Life Gallery, I made mention of the fact that over the winter I set up a little studio on the top of a folding card table placed next to a south-facing window in a spare bedroom. Besides being able to take more pictures during the cold months, I learned a lot more about my equipment’s capabilities (and mine). There also was an advantage in setting up a scene, taking a few shots from different angles and aperture settings and then immediately taking the card into the next room and viewing the results on my computer. With this immediate feedback, I often found things on the big screen that I didn’t notice on LCD of the camera and I was able to go back to my studio to make adjustments.
Basic Studio Setup
I have heard that you can buy a roll of white paper at an art supply store for the background, but I happened to have a supply of white polystyrene. I stapled a length of it to an old wooden yardstick, and with the help of a stand, I drape it across a card table. If your space allows light in an area close to a wall, the background could be hung on a nail, I suppose. Because the light from the window in wintertime can be feeble and usually requires a longer exposure, I use a tripod and a shutter release. Another must-have is a reflector for directing light into the shadow side of the subject, and a diffuser for softening harsh light. I already had a stand to hold the background material, so this basic setup cost less than $25.00.
Useful Equipment for Flower Photography
Shown here are the tools I often use when photographing flowers. There is the reflector and diffuser mentioned above, a favorite vase, scissors for trimming flowers and a container of cold water to help keep the flowers fresh. Behind the three daffodils pictured here are a couple of sheets I made with the gradient tool in Photoshop and printed out on presentation matte paper to use as a background for smaller subjects. The square-shaped black object just behind the scissors is a frog, a useful little gadget for flower arranging. This one will hold water and has metal spikes that will hold stems in place. The other two holding the white daffodils are ones that my local flower shop sold me. Below is a photograph I made using one of my homemade colored backgrounds and three or four frogs holding a $5.00 bouquet of daisies.