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  • by Felix Russo

HOW-TO: Still life lighting 101- Basic terms & a cardboard cove

Starting out with still life/ small object table-top photography doesn't have to be expensive. Sometimes the simplest designs work out the best. Here is a simple, economical solution to window light tabletop still life photography.

how-to lighting

Here's HOW:

  • Cut open one end of a cardboard box and attach seamless paper to form a cove. Using a cove eliminates the distracting horizontal line formed where the vertical and horizontal surface meet.

  • Position the box, with side open and seamless paper in place on a chair, table, or stand that is lower than a window.

  • Select an object that is not too small or too large for the set. Avoid glassware and reflective objects — these require other lighting techniques.

  • Keep the composition simple — one or two items only.

  • Turn off the room lights. Window light should be the only source of light. You may find that the form and cast shadows are too dark. Use a white matte board or white foam board as a reflector to fill in the dark shadows and provide a fill light.

  • Use a tripod and bracket your exposure.