Have you ever felt that photos viewed straight out of the camera look and feel a little flat, and lacking in emotion? It’s often the case that no matter how well crafted your ‘in-camera’ technique, most images can benefit from some tinkering here and there in the digital darkroom. Here, we’ll show you one of our favourite still life photography ideas: how to capture a stunning and simple still life using just natural light. Then we’ll combine it with a texture before converting it to black and white – quickly transforming your shot from ordinary to extraordinary.
Using textures is a great way to rough-up your images and give them a cool, grungy finish. It’s a look that’s very popular at the moment, with apps such as Instagram adding distressed effects to your images in an instant. However, there’s nothing more satisfying than creating the effect yourself.
Keep an eye open for interesting textures that you can photograph – anything from peeling paint to old wallpaper, or even a rusty tin, as we’ve used here. In fact, you can download 100 free Photoshop textures here on Digital Camera World!
Start a collection and incorporate the textures into your work using layer blending in Photoshop. Here’s how we did it with our simple asparagus shot…
Use natural light
Set up your mini daylight studio near a window that’s flooded with lots of natural light. The window in this lean-to worked a treat, and an old wooden chopping board made a perfect, rustic background. Always aim to keep the composition simple and shoot using an aperture of around f/8.
Add some texture
Open the image in Photoshop (Elements or CS) and make some basic tweaks to the tones and contrast. Next, open a suitable texture, select and copy it (Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C), and then paste it as a new layer onto your original (Ctrl+V). Using the top drop-down, change the Blending Mode to Vivid Light.
Experiment with mono
You can use Photoshop to convert your image to black and white, but here we used a specialist plug-in made by Nik called Silver Efex Pro 2. We used it to add a sepia tint, heavy vignette and a border with just a few simple sliders.
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