Still life photography ideas: how to instantly age props

Still life photography: how to instantly age props

There’s no better place for great still life photography than your own kitchen. However, the problem with using utensils and other items from your kitchen is that they’re often too shiny and new to give your image that nostalgia that works so well with still life photography. In this tutorial we’ll show you a quick way to instantly age your props. And this isn’t a tutorial for kids or the feint of heart.

Still life photography: how to instantly age props

Unusual utensils and battered cooking items can make perfect subject matter for a still life photography project. Obviously, the scissors in our shot were fairly new and shiny so, as they were a spare pair, we decided to give them character by ageing them.

However, our baking tray was well past its best and ready for the dustbin – perfect for use as a fine art background.

There wasn’t much thought about how we’d shoot the scissors apart from we wanted then to be slightly open in order to give the illusion of action.

The addition of the red thread was an afterthought and we shot it both intact across the open scissor blades and also cut into two halves, as pictured here.

We didn’t bother using any fancy lighting set-up for this shot as most of the art was injected afterwards in the digital darkroom.

In fact, the whole process was very organic because without including the red cotton we wouldn’t have been inspired to post produce the image with the colour only remaining in the thread.

Instantly age still life photography props

It’s simple to cheat and age metallic objects by years.

Obviously safety is paramount so do this bit outside in the open!

Instantly age still life photography props

Stick your props on an old metal baking tray, squirt on some lighter fluid and carefully setting light to it.

The result is tarnished and sooty old scissors – voila!

Setting up your still life shot

How to get perfect still life shots every time: simple setup

Simple set-up
Create your studio using a couple of desk lamps angled at your subject. Use plain white paper as a diffuser to avoid hotspots. Crumpled tinfoil makes a great reflector. Set your scene on the floor and shoot vertically downwards for a more comfortable shooting position.

How to get perfect still life shots every time: camera settings to use

Camera settings
Choose Spot Metering and shoot in Manual mode to retain full creative control. Use the lowest ISO your camera permits and shoot in RAW file format. Set the White Balance to Sunny for a warm feel and use your self-timer to fire the camera’s shutter.

PAGE 1: How to age props for still life photography
PAGE 2: How to fine-tune your aged props in Photoshop


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