Still Life Photography: Creating A Vintage Ribbons Setup In My Tiny Studio | DENISE LOVE | Skillshare

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Still Life Photography: Creating A Vintage Ribbons Setup In My Tiny Studio

teacher avatar DENISE LOVE, Artist & Photographer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class project

    • 3. Props for our setup

    • 4. Styling our setup

    • 5. Lighting and camera settings

    • 6. Shoot Recap & Editing in Lightroom

    • 7. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

I love still life photography and one of my favorite bits of it is prop shopping. I love looking for interesting things to inspire me at the antique store. I almost am looking for things that jump out at me and practically jump into my cart. Things so inspiring that I know I'll regret leaving it if I don't buy it right then. Things that I can immediately imagine the set I can come up with to use it in. The story I can tell.  I enjoy coming up with creative sets and I can't wait to share with you today's setup all about vintage ribbons, spools, and bobbins I have collected.

In this class we'll cover:

  • I'll show you some of the vintage props I have collected and gathered together
  • Styling your set up near a window for natural light
  • I'll talk about layering your pieces for different heights and depth interest in your photos
  • We'll also look at my final photos from this setup and do some editing in Lightroom.

This course is perfect for beginners getting started and needing ideas. It's also great for experienced photographers wanting ideas and tips for doing studio setups.

Required Gear: A camera. You can do still life photography with any camera you have and a few props to tell your story.


Meet Your Teacher

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Artist & Photographer



Hello, my friend!

 I'm Denise, an artist, and photographer. I'm really passionate about sharing what I have learned with others and creating workshops is what I really enjoy. I've primarily focused on Photography Workshops up to this point. After having a thriving studio photography business since 2012, and being involved in different arts my whole life, I have started to delve into other creative workshops to keep things fresh and exciting for myself. I enjoy the journey of creating as much as what I end up with when I'm done. I can't wait to share with you and see what you are creating! 

I have an Instagram just for my art feed if you want to connect over there. I'd love to see you! I also have my main Instagram account for all things ... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Going out shopping for props and looking around at all the vintage things that I might have that my family's given to me over the years. If some of my very favorite things to do. And if today's set up, I'm going to show you some beautiful spools of yarn and thread and vintage ribbons that I have come across over the years while I was out looking. And I think I'm going to pull them all together today into one set up underneath love. And I'm a studio photographer based out of Atlanta, Georgia. And I love pulling together the vintage fines that I have and the things that may have more life and story to them then the thing I'm doing that day, and I love pulling those things together into still life photo. And I'm going to show you today how I'm going to pull these together and create something that's going to be hopefully a story about vintage yarns and schools and threads and kind of evoke memories of things that you might have collected are seen in the past or maybe your grandmother had some of these are or whatever. And I'm going to show you my setup and we're going to take a look at the lighting and we'll get into some editing. And by the end of this, I hope you're inspired to take a look at some of the vintage items that you have in your house that you can pull together in a set similar to this, or to keep your eye out when you're out looking for props and shopping around and just finding some things that might inspire a yummy vintage set, like two days. So I'm very excited to have you in class. So let's get started. 2. Class project: Your class project today is to come up with two photos. I'd like to see him from two different angles, maybe from the front and one from the top. And just come back and show me what you've come up with with your yummy vintage set today. If you want to give me a pullback and a detail shot, you could do that also, but the goal here is to photos. So I want to forward and above or detail and a pull back your choice and come back and share those with us. Can't wait to see what you've come up with. 3. Props for our setup: Today I've got a little bit of a yummy, a vintage kind of thing going. And the props that I have pulled together are all of the fun ribbons and schools and Bob wins that I have collected from the antique market through different years, have picked these all up just kinda separately when I came across them thinking of a set that I wanted to do with that time. But nail, I kinda look at them all the ones that I've collected. And I've got some really, really beautiful ones. I've got some that have this Twine on it, and I've got several that have just a vintage school with a little bit of colored thread on it that I like. Particularly like these vintage schools. These are very interesting and I have some antique ribbon that I've got spooled on some of those. These are more like for your turn. And I don't really even know what they did with these, but they're really cool. And they came in different woods and different colors and different sizes. And I think there's a kind of amazing also have some vintage ribbon from a ribbon store that used to be at the antique market. And she would make up these pretty little miniature ribbon things with little flowers, the little ribbon flowers that she created. And I thought, Oh, these are so beautiful and she would hand off some of these. And then I'll love this slug Little Rock yarn on these little mini sets here. So today I'm going to do a setup inspired by all these yummy vintage pieces that I have picked up all around one particular theme. Here's some newer ones that look all that I picked up not too long ago and I thought, Ooh, how country French rustic look or those. So I'm going to pull a thing together, kind of sewing or knitting or some type of look with that, with just the vintage bob wins and threads and ribbons that I have collected. 4. Styling our setup: So let's go ahead and style are set. And I've kinda got my my old crate back here, which we don't have to have that back there, but it's got some books on it. So I thought that could just be an element in the back ground of the photo, not really being any part of the photo other than just an element back there. And I've actually pulled some of my vintage books forward in a stack because I thought it might be fun to have different layers and different heights. And these books are a way that I'm getting some of those heights in there. And I'm just going to randomly place things to start with. And then what we might do as I'm, as I'm shooting, then I will start moving things around and realigning things and thing which colors work better and how I really want to show off some of these things. I really love these little things here. This pretty slug, really pretty. So I want different heights. So keep that in mind when you're building your sets. It's, it's more interesting when you have things that kind of step up. And not only do I want different heights in this way, I want them to kind of have different heights as we go back into the scene and kind of build on each other. So love. Hello, This pretty much. And then as I'm shooting, I'm going to try to get as many photos as possible as shooting my set. And that means I'm gonna get some from the front and from the, from the top and from the side. I'm going to move everything around and see how better I can do with my layout. So I'm going to change the colors out. Maybe I'll take somewhat this pretty thing wrapped around a yellow or the red. So I'm just going to keep taking photos, moving things around, considering the heights, the depths, the backgrounds, and see what it is that I can create with this set. And I want to take as many different pictures as I can when I think of a set like this. So I don't want to just come and take that standard straight old photo and call it a day. I want to take them from the top, from the front, maybe shooting up a little bit, maybe some from the actual top straight down. I want to take some with side lighting. Maybe I'll move a little closer to the window. I'm a little far from the window today, so I'm probably just going to scoot it all down a little bit. So we're more in the light source and see what fun photos we can come up with with this particular set today. 5. Lighting and camera settings: So I'll pull back a little bit so we can take a look at our lighting setup. I'm setup in my studio next to the window. I've got my table pulled up to the window. And as I was mentioning in the styling video and maybe a little bit far from the window. I generally like to be right in the window. So I'll probably just skewed all my little props down a foot. Because the closer you are to the light source, the more light and shadow you'll have come in. Luckily, today, I am shooting a little later in the day, it's just afternoon time and the sun is on top of the building. This is an east facing window. And so it gets a whole lot of light in the morning. And in the morning is usually when I want to be in here shooting. And once the sun goes to the top of the building, then I get nice diffused light in this window, but it is a lot less light. So when I'm getting into my camera settings and thinking, what is it that I need to do for camera to get good exposure? I'm going to have to slow that shutter speed down a little bit because I don't have as much light shining in that window. So I generally like to shoot at about an F4 for my f-stop because I like a lot of blur. And then I'm usually wanting to stay under ISO 400 from ISO. So I'm probably going to set up on the ISO 400 today. And I'm on my prompts a little closer to the light source. So we'll scoot down just a little bit. And then hopefully I'll be able to shoot at at least warn 60th of a second or faster. Because if I can do that, I can steady myself to get enough of a tack sharp subject. If if the shutter is slower than that, that I need to set up on a tripod or leave this setup for tomorrow and come back during the day, during the morning when the most light is shining through the window. And if my light was shining directly to the window, this photography diffuser which I have sitting in the floor at the moment, I would have sitting that in the windows so that if the sunlight word directly on my said I wouldn't have harsh sun on there and have pretty diffused light. But because the sun would be shining in the window, it is, it is brighter than when the sun is on top of the building. So I'm less likely to have to use a tripod. But I do love using a tripod, so I don't want you to be afraid of using a tripod. I knew early on, you know, I was like tripod. It just slows down my creativity. Tripod, what a pain tripod. Now, I don't want to use a tripod. I hate the tripod. But 10 years in, I started getting more comfortable with my assets. I was inlets of a hurry because I used to be in such a hurry. I wanted to get 1000 photos that day or I didn't do a good enough job. And I want it to be, you know, they'll go though. I needed to take 15 of the same picture before I got one that was sharpen male. I'm not as much in a hurry, put more thought into my assets. I come up with stories behind them that kind of go with the setup that I can talk about. And I can talk about like with this set, the different places that I might have collected, the fund, schools and vintage ribbon and stuff. And there's a story behind the collecting and the setup that I might have pulled together. And then when I get to the photographing of it, I don't mind setting up on a tripod, sometimes even tethering and then moving each detail so that it's absolutely perfect. So when I snapped that picture, it's one snap. It's not 15. And then maybe, you know, you're kind of getting into the work smarter rather than harder. Even if you think using a tripod and possibly tethering is harder. In the end, the amazing photo and focus that you get, it's actually kinda easier than being all over the set, leaning over things, getting a backache, doing it. So just kinda things to keep in mind there. So today I'm going to be shooting at f four. I'm going to have that ISO sitting at about 400 because there's less light coming in. And then whatever my shutter speed happens to be, that's where I'm going to be sitting. And if I need to set up on a tripod because I waited too late in the day to come up here and start shooting. Then I'll either do that or leave the setup for the morning when the light is brighter. I want you to come up with some yummy little set. Perhaps using a stack of vintage books like I've done, and then a set of vintage, whatever it is that you have managed to collect. And that could be all kinds of stuff. Maybe you collect little cars or maybe you collect little perfume bottles like I do anything at all that you can have like a little collection of that could be different sizes and that you could have different heights and different interests to look around. That's what I want you to create and then come back and show us what you did. 6. Shoot Recap & Editing in Lightroom: All right. Let's just take a look at some of the photos that I took to give you some ideas of what you might be looking for. And I want to mention on all of these, I'm kind of also in addition to different heights and different elements, I'm looking at composition. So if we pull up our crop grid, I can see that my subject, which was these yummy little tiny colored ribbons, That's where I lined up on my rule of thirds. And so that's what you're kinda thinking of, your kind of thinking of the whole photo in say, a grid. And it's splitting that photo up into thirds. And rather than taking the photo where these little threads are right here in the center box, I might have got my focus and everything in there and then tilted my camera so that my subject was on the top third of the photo. And I'll do that quite a bit. I'll kinda get my subject in focus and then I will either tilt up or down or left and right depending on which orientation I'm shooting. And usually try to keep in mind that the photo is more interesting when your subjects not in the center. Now that being said, that doesn't mean there's not plenty of instances to break the rule, but the rules are there for a reason. And early on in your photography career, you want to learn those rules and try to shoot towards those rules when you're out shooting different photos. So that you're learning interesting compositions and you're making the story that you're telling in the photo more interesting. And then as you develop in your photography skill and you see an instance where you're like, Ha, This would be best centered, then that's when, you know the moment that you've come to, that you could break the rule. So until you get to that moment and you can see how much more dynamic that photo is if you broke a rule, try to stick to the rules. I still to this day try to personally stick to a rule of thirds. I don't try to remember all the other rules out there. The Golden Triangle, the golden spiral, the leading lines. I mean, there's plenty of different composition things that you can think of. And while I certainly want to think of leading lines and leading my eye through the photo. Like you can see here, I have these books kind of on an angle and they kinda angle out of the photo so that I'm implying there's way more to the photo then you can see. That doesn't mean that that was my number one focus. It's almost like something that I'm doing as a habit. Like I like things on the angle. I like the rule of thirds. I don't like things to be straight on. If I had those books completely straight, that would have been less interesting than the books being angled. So yeah, you can combine some of the rules of photography as you're shooting, in addition to trying to keep your subject kind of on the third somewhere of that photo. And as you're looking at that grid, even have in the main subject on one of these cross hatches would have been fun. But because of the way I've lined these up, I've kinda at least got them on the upper line, if not on the, directly on that hatch. And I love the way that that composition came out and how the books were angled. So I'm always thinking in quantities of three. So you'll notice there's three spools up there. Usually odd quantities are more interesting than even quantities. I'm always thinking composition wise at, towards the rule of thirds. And then I'm also kinda keeping in mind, I don't like things to be straight normally. So if I've got like a stack of books, then they're probably going to be sitting on the angle. And another thing about them being straight, then you're kinda almost implying horizon line. So then if they're slightly crooked, but straight on but they look crooked than your photo looks off. And so I see, I think that then being slightly on the angle just kinda eliminates all kinds of visual problems that you might run into. And all of these are kinda edited, but I'm going to an edit one of them in a moment and we'll go through and edit one. Now, I really loved this and it's a little bit different composition. But I liked how we build the heights and the different textures, you know, the lower height being the book. And then we've got some height going here with our ribbons. And then behind there we've got another height with some other colors. And the only thing that I slightly regret on this photo is this neon green color on the top of the spool. And I believe the other side of that school was blank. And I should have noticed the neon green color and flip that over. So that's one of those things where usually also owl will shoot a whole set of photos. And then when I get to the computer and I see that and I'm like, oh, I didn't mean to have that there. That's really distracting. Then I'll leave that set up. Set up so I can go right back upstairs or I can go back to it tomorrow. And I can change the elements that were distracting. And I can take those sets of photos again or change out my lens and see what different things, different photos that I can get if I particularly love us, that I'll leave it up for a couple days. Because the first day you're shooting, you're you're kind of shooting the straightforward standard photos because you kinda have to get all those out of the way before you start thinking, okay, now what else is there? How can I make this more interesting? How can I make this more creative? What can I move around and change this up? It takes getting past those initial shots before you can start thinking outside the box to the better things that you could be doing. And so sometimes you just gotta take those first few photos just to get past them so you clear them out of your mind and your mind starts thinking of other things. And so I'll revisit a set several times and a lot of times also, I will keep all those props in my prop closet if there's some that I really loved, and I'll pull them out again a year from now and think, what can I do with these nail? I've kind of been so far away from the original set that I did that the next set that I come up with is going to be different than the original set. And I'll have new fun things to play with in my photography, in my photos. So here's a pullback shot and you can see here that I was moving stuff around. I'm still looking at different heights and colors and this orange and the front is almost too orange. Is it distracting? I'm going to have to look at that and think to myself, is that adding to the photo or is that distracting me? Pulling my eye right down to the bottom? Instantly. And I could go down here to the HSL hue saturation luminance slider. And I can kind of play around with those like on the saturation line. Let's pull saturation and maybe pull the saturation out of that orange and do something more like that. And that almost pulls that more in line with the vintage feel of this photo. And that's probably the one of the few times that I come personally into the HSL color box is when I have a color that is distracting and unaided to saturate it, but I like the rest of the photo. Or if I have a color that doesn't have enough saturation and I want to have it stand out a little bit more like in this one, the yellow could stand out a little bit more and the orange could have been desaturated. The blue down here could have been a little more vibrant. So in this case, I could go through and tweak each of those for this particular photo just to see what we could get. And here we are coming in from the top and a little bit of an angle and there's that bright green spot that is kinda of drawing the eye. And in this instance, lucky here, if I take the HSL green slider, I can completely desaturate the green out of that. Did you see how that just turned white? Basically, I can take that right out and kinda fix that photo. So if we go back to the first one that I really liked, but I did not like that green. We could just take that green out of there. And luckily, it's not taking in as much of the blue-green color out of our ribbon to the point where I'm like, Oh, I hate that. And it got rid of the bright green up there in that sticker. And it did take some green out of the ribbon, but that green, apparently this has got more of maybe the aqua in it. So it wasn't too bad. So I do like that better. And I don't even have to go back and reshoot that now. Love it. All right, so let's just look a little further. So here I am straight on. And this is a really good example of did it look better straight on or from the angle? And I almost I like it from the angle because when you're over here at the straight on, it just looks like everything was piled. They're not as not as purposefully as it was when I was on this angle. These are the same photo. So let me go into the original one because I want to take that this angle versus straight on. That's the one where I got rid of that green and there's a little bit of that green show one up there. So I can just desaturate that green layer and get that back out again. But to me, I don't know if you can see that or not. It's less interesting. Straight on. It just looks like less like it wasn't as on purpose. And I kind of want my eye to flow around starting here with my subject and flow around and with the books kinda go out. And here it's just flat. It's just kind of whack like right here in your face straight on. And it's okay, but it's not my favorite. But look at that now. See here, must have finally noticed. Here's the set of photos where I finally noticed I didn't like the green and flip that over. Look how interesting this is coming down from the top and the books being angled. So we're kinda driven all through this kind of layout here. And rule of thirds wise, my main subject was this little stack, and I've kind of got that up there on that rule of thirds line. And I love that photo. So I came back in and I go backwards. That would look straight again, I don't like the straight ones as much. Here. I've coming in for a little detail shots. So I want you to not be afraid to pull back and give me more of the scene, whether that be from the top or from an angle. Try to avoid straight on. Unless you think it looks better. And then try to get in and start giving me some of the details of your photos. Look at these. This is one of my favorite details and I don't even mind the red behind it. It kinda adds to the photo for me, but if I wanted to get rid of that, I could come back to my HSL Color panel and desaturate the red so that it was just kind of back there as a background element, not as a red stripe in the photo. So just something to kind of think about there. I do kinda like the little bit of a red element back there, even though it's making a line. And then coming down from the top for some little details and another one from the top. And then a really loved the composition of this. This is the perfect shot of different heights and things kinda being on the angle. So you kinda start here at the thing that's in-focus, which is on the lower third line. And then your eye starts to move around that photo of all different elements going around. And so then we just start looking at all the interesting things that are going on in this photo. So I love this one. This one is a good example of straight on being interesting because for some reason the straight on here was not as interesting to me. Maybe it's because of the stack of books. Maybe if the books had been angle but we were straight on with the thread. But to me that's not as interesting as this one where I'm seeing all the different heights as eye moves around that photo. And before we go, I did want to edit one of these from scratch. So let me just reset that one because I was just kind of playing in these after I took them because I got so excited with this setup, let me just adjust the exposure. Might even hit the auto and see what it's going to put it at. And I don't like the auto here, so I'm going to pull the exposure by Dan and I might tweak that further after I go further down through my settings. I don't know, Auto just kinda gives me a place to start and you can always undo it. It's not like you have to keep whatever those settings say, but I just like to see what the computer thinks versus what my vision in my mind was. And you kinda already saw my vision with the way that I previously kinda had that edit going. But I'm just going to come back and start tweaking things. I like to throw a curve down and this is a basic S curve, but I'm usually an S curve occurs where it's a lot more dramatic like that right there. I don't like that. I don't like all the color fully in focus, but if you love that look, that's the curve that is pretty much like your standard S-curve. But I always like to come down and pull the mat tones in. I like to pull the darkness into more of a dark gray rather than a block. Just my own personal preference. So every time you see me edit did something like this, That's extra point. I didn't mean to put that in there. So every time you see me edit that, I'm probably going to do that every single time. And I've had plenty of people say, Oh, I hate that Matt love, but I love your photos, but I love the things you know, you inspire us by. But I don't like things to be matte and see that just comes into personal preference just because I like it doesn't mean that It's going to be perfect for you. And so you're going to have to figure out what is your signature look and style. What is it that you're looking to do with your photos? I kinda have figured out at this point what my signature style is when I get into the dark and moody photography. So I've picked out a spot to sharpen just by picking my little point here and picking a spot out. And then I'm going to sharpen based on being able to see that point. And I'm going to hold down my Option Alt key and mask that up to just the white bits that are being sharpened. Because if you've got it unmasked like this, where it's all white like that when you're holding down your Option or your Alt key, depending on if you're on a Mac or PC, every pixel is being sharpened there. And when you do that, you have the danger of maybe sharpening your pixels every single pixel and adding a lot of grain to your photo. And then that's, you don't want to add a whole bunch of grained your photo. And then I like to come down here and add some vignetting and that just kind of pulls the photo Lynn, it's like a fine art photography kind of trick. I like the midpoint to be fairly large. I want it to be kind of round. I don't want it to be all the way at the end. I wanted to kinda be like right around this area here that I'm adding a vignette to. And then I like it to be feathered because if you don't have a feathered, it's very obvious where the start and stop is of the vignette and I want it to be feathered so it's very natural and subtle. So then we'll go back up and tweak some of the settings that I've already done as I came down. Just to make it perfect for wherever I want it for whatever I happened to be thinking of that day. And then if I've got too much contrast, I can come up here and take out some contrast. I like having the clarity, but we can take out clarity, but look what it does if you go too far, really makes it look plasticky. So I like a little bit of clarity and maybe a little less contrast. Maybe we can tweak the exposure. And then there we go. So I like to go down, tweak all my settings, get to the point where I'm like, okay, I love this edit. And then we'll go through and maybe make a preset of that. So let's just say I'm going to create a preset and I'm going to save that as one of my favorites. I've just got a little folder called an East Loves favorites. And I will call that favorite number five and hit create. And what I love about that is now I've got these other favorites in here and look how different they are as I scroll through them, some of them are very similar, like whatever I did for 45, look how close those are. So I must have been doing a setup that was so similar that there's very little difference in forward five, but there's a little bit of difference. So I'm going to save that it might be perfect for another photo I'm doing. But like look at that one way, way different. So I love saving the different presets and seeing what it is that I can for other photos very quickly. Or I can then just run through this particular set of photos and adjust the exposure on each photo and then apply the preset. And I'm done with my editing because they were all taken at about the same time, in the same lighting with the same props. And so as a, as a speed element for processing, I should be able to go through and tweak the exposure and apply the preset and be done. So it isn't really nice way to speed up your processing. Alright, so hope you enjoyed taking a look at this setup. I'm looking forward to see you in the set that you come up with. I'll see you back in class. 7. Final Thoughts: So now that you've seen those yummy than to set, I hope you're inspired to create a yummy vintage set up your own. Whether you pick spools of beautiful vintage ribbons and things that I have picked, or you've come up with some other vintage item that maybe you have a whole collection of that you could pull a setup together from either way, this theme kind of works for a variety of subjects. And I want you to take this going forward and see what you can put together here and there with this kind of vintage elements theme that we've been working through today. So I'm really excited to see what you came up with for your set. So don't forget to go by to your class project and come back and share with us two photos that you took from your setup. And I'm looking forward to see and what you came up with.