Still Life Photography: Magic of Extra Lights | Mariya Popandopulo | Skillshare

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Still Life Photography: Magic of Extra Lights

teacher avatar Mariya Popandopulo, Photographer & Illustrator

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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

    • 1.

      Class introduction


    • 2.

      Why use extra lights


    • 3.

      Chirstmas lights


    • 4.



    • 5.

      Lamps and home lights


    • 6.

      Other indoor extra lights


    • 7.

      Light scenarios


    • 8.



    • 9.

      Example 1


    • 10.

      Example 2


    • 11.

      Example 3


    • 12.

      Example 4


    • 13.

      Example 5


    • 14.

      Conclusion and project


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About This Class

Adding extra lights to still life images is an easy and fun way to make your pictures extra special and cosy.

In this class we will explore the magic of feel good photography with extra lights. 

We will learn how to make this kind of images, using candles, Christmas lights, lamps and even wall & ceiling lights. How to mix natural and artificial light, how to make pictures extra pretty and dreamy, so that they will be as good as Christmas postcards!

  1. In the first part I will talk about various extra sources of light you can use at home.
  2. In the second part we will discuss possible light scenarios - so that you can make beautiful pictures in any light situation.
  3. And finally in the third part of the class I will take you through 5 examples, where I will show you step by step how I create my still lives with extra lights.

Learn more about composition, light, diffusers, reflectors and still life photography in these two classes! 

Still Life Photography: Make a Perfect Breakfast Picture

12 Still Life Photography Mistakes (and what you can learn from them)

Aaaaan finally, as per usual =)

For those of you who are not on premium membership, here is a link for a free enrollment in this class =) There are 20 free places currently.

And for those who want to upgrade to premium membership, get 3 months of Skillshare Premium for only $0.99!!!  Here is my link to use that offer =)

Have a great day! =)

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Mariya Popandopulo

Photographer & Illustrator


Hi! My name is Mariya and I am photographer and illustrator based in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

I never could quite decide what do I love more - photography or illustrations, so Im doing both =D

I have illustrations portfolio on Behance

My preferred social media currently is Instagram (no surprise here =D)

I also post comics and doodles under Pinks&Roses name

See full profile

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1. Class introduction: adding extra lies to still as images is an easy and fun way to make your pictures extra special. In cozy Hi, my name is Maria and I'm a photographer from Almaty, Kazakhstan, and in this class we will explore the magic off. Feel good photography with extra lights. We learn how to make this kind of images using candles, Christmas lights, lumps and even wall and ceiling lights. How to mix natural and artificial life. How to make pictures extra pretty and dreamy so that they will be as good as Christmas postcards. In the first part, I will talk about virus, extra sources of life you can use at home. In the second part, we will discuss possible light scenarios so that you can make beautiful pictures in any light situation. And finally, in the third part of the class, I will take you for five examples where I will show you step by step process how I create my still lives with extra lights. So personable button and let's make some pictures 2. Why use extra lights: First of all, why even bother using extra lights when you can just make nice pictures without them? Well, my reason is that they make pictures more cozy and 50 like here. Both pictures are nice, but the one on the right with candle is just a little bit more appealing in warm candle as beautiful light accents on the cup making the team said glow more. You don't have to make them only during holidays, when candles or Christmas lights are more readily available. For example, I keep one Christmas tree invite and a few candles close by frothy year, so that I don't have to go for all Christmas decorations to find one. Because nothing is more discouraging than when you have to spend ages looking for the right props here. The picture was taken in May, no candles on the left and with candles on the right. Both a nice but the one with candles. Even when the candles are not the main subject off the picture and are in the background, looks just a little bit prettier. I call any light that is not natural light and typically not the main source of life. Extra life like here. The main source of light is the window. The candles do not add any exposure. They just act as props. 3. Chirstmas lights: So here are a few suggestions off extra lies you can use at home when making still lifes. Christmas lights. Christmas lights are not only good for Christmas tree or as decorations during holiday season, but are awesome proctor at some cozy feeling to images color. These come in a lot of colors, but personally, for my pictures, I prefer either clear white, all warm, white, yellow colored ones as opposed to multicolored. This is because I like to use lights as an addition complemented the main options. And no, there's attention grabbers, for example. In this case, my main object is a place with cookies, and the lights are in the background. The background is warm and has yellow colors, same as the lights, and it corresponds nicely in terms of colors with the main object cookies. The whole picture has warm color palette, browns and oranges and yellows on the opposite. The picture on the right also have cookies. However, they're a bit lost on the busy background with multicolored lights, so a picture that is too busy with colors can lose its goes, assuming uses. Because string Christmas lights can be quite long and bright, they're good not only as extra light but as the main source of light as work in the absence off other sources, like on the picture. On the left, the room was totally dark, and the only light source were Christmas lights. Noticed that in order for viewer to see the mark itself, part of the lights are in front of them up. If all were inside, we wouldn't be able to see the front of the mark. So here I use light as the main light source and as a part of the composition on the picture. On the right, however, lies do not directly interact with the main object. Little graphic up. Instead, they are blurred in the background and provide a cool book, a FX. 4. Candles: candles. Samos with Christmas lights. Candles can be found in all shapes and colors and same as before. I prefer to keep my extra lies as simple as possible, meaning most of the times I would choose just plain white candles, like the ones on the image On the right is also a good idea to coordinate your candle with your main object color wise on the picture. On the left, the coffee's almost orange, and it looks well next to orange candle on the image. On the right, however, the theme is white white button on the needed by ground white marshmallows and almost white coffee. So what? Candles fit rather nicely. You can see once again that I prefer to keep the color scheme off the picture simple and limited the few colors so that colors are not the destructive element of the picture, but rather a complementary and saying goes for extra lights in their colors. Looking back at the pictures with flowers, you can also notice that this picture works because the color palette is limited. White, green and Boesch and the candles being white do not. This truck from the main subject flowers a word of advice. Don't just put your extra lights for the sake of it, like I did here on the picture. On the left, green candles the most really add a lot to the picture, making it more clattered also to my taste. There are too many colors red, yellow, grey, blue on the mark, so green candles are probably too much. And quite frankly, without them, the picture on the right looks better altogether. On the contrary, here the green candles do work, as the color palette is very limited in green provides a nice contrast to browns and yellows. 5. Lamps and home lights: lumps and other indoor lights. Well, Christmas lights and candles are easy to replicate if needed. Lumps and other in delights may not be as mobile, but that doesn't mean we should use them. I have a few amps at home I used as a background source of life to add some coziness to the picture, like here on the image. On the left, you can see the set up a boat, a glass and a star shaped lump lamp. Here is also the only source of light. The image on the right takes a different angle, and now the glasses. The main object of the picture well, lamp is very blurry in the background. You also have to keep in mind. If you're extra light is your main source of life, it will affect the temperature of your picture. By this, I mean that the majority off indoor lives have warms yellow colors, and that's such Kostos onto other objects, which makes both off. This image is very yellow orange. Although I'm not a big fan of using indoor ceiling, them's as my primary source of life. They can be used to add some interest to the picture, but as extra. Let's meaning they will not be the main source of light hence will not affect the color temperature of the picture as much. But we merely add some variety to the background in addition to the main source of life. Typically naturally. All right, this sounds a bit complicated, so let me just show you an example. Here. The main source of light is window, so it is natural that both images were taken at the same place. However, on the right one, I switch the ceiling lamps on in the kitchen and you can see how bright and colorful the background is compared. Toa dark background on the left. It adds a lot of cheerful wound to the image, making it more happy in the feeling. For this trip to work, you have to make sure that Syrian lamps are in some distance merrily highlight in the background, as opposed to providing light for the main object. This kind of picture, however, heavily relies on the lens ability to blur the background, meaning to achieve that out of focus, blow reshapes in the background, the sex. It is better to use a prevalence with high, opportune values. I will discuss it later in this class 6. Other indoor extra lights: other indoors Extra lights. You'll be surprised how many other extra light sources you confined indoors just to name a few coffee machines like here on the right. Fireplaces, sparkles, ovens. Yep, explore your house for those and think how you can use them to your photography advantage. 7. Light scenarios: life scenarios. As you probably have noticed from the pictures I showed already, you don't have to wait for the night or lack of natural light indoors to use extra lights. Candles, for example, will look good in both daylight and evening nightlight scenarios like here. The image on the left was taken in the very late evening, with candle being the main source of the light, while the picture on the right was taken during the midday and there was plenty of natural light from the window in the room, so candles don't really add much exposure. They act as a problem. Obviously, extra lights will have more impact when the light is limited. But that doesn't mean extra lies can be used during the World Day as well. When I talk about light scenarios, I talk about the availability of natural light indoors that would be mostly light from the windows, so there are free primary light scenarios. They light evening blue light and nightlight. The first life scenario is daylight, which means there is plenty of natural light indoors. You're still left. Composition is very well exposed, and any extra lights you may use will be what they are. Extras mean they won't provide a lot if any additional exposure. They, however, will add this subtle, cozy effect and introduced catch lights and glow unreflective and glass surfaces like on the image on the right. Here I will show you a few ways to use sketch lies to your advantage in the example section . This kind of light is great to start with because you don't have to worry about exposure in colors as colors in this scenario, due to availability of natural light will be natural, so you can be concentrating only on composition and using extra lights in a purely discord . Ifwe, their effect on the picture will be very subtle and stuff. Second life scenario is evening light. I also call it Blue Light. Because of the blue collar cast in shadows, you will get in your pictures. This kind of life happens right after the sunset, when it is still relatively light outside but indoors it's already quite dark. The light from the window in this case will have cooler blue tint. Both this pictures were taken during such time. The natural life still provides some exposure for the pictures. However, the extra lights now to add exposure there, not just the court is now being more visible and pronounced. Evening light is perfect to play with colors and contrasts. By this, I mean, the extra lights are normally warm and color yellow orange, while the window light is cold blue. This makes images quite whimsical. Third light scenario is nightlight or, in other words, absence of natural light. This time the run. No color casting shadows. Darks are black, and the only source of light we get is artificial. Either some indoor light like ceiling lamps or from Onley the extra lights. This time, the color of your extra lies will significantly affect the color of your picture. Like here, you can see that extra lights in the absence of any other life, colors the picture with warm yellow tones. In this life scenario, extra lights are most visible. Hence more attention is drawn to them. Here is a little comparison off the three scenarios. Daylight colors and natural extra lights are barely visible at in just a touch of magic. Evening light visible blue tint in shadows contrasting with warm yellow colors. Off extra life nightlight, extra like colors. Play a significant role in the color off the whole image. And there are no blue tins in shadows anymore. All image isn't yellow orange tones. 8. BONUS SECTION: a little bonus part. How the choice off Vance will affect your final results before we move on to the first part . With examples, Let me just quickly touch on the subject off lens and camera choices and how they can affect the picture without diving too deep into lance and camera selection. A few things to consider before taking a shot. What kind of camera and lens do you have? Is it a mobile phone camera? Is a camera with a kid lands? Caitlin's is the one that normally goes with your camera When you buy it. It is a zoom lens, typically with 18 55 zoom ability war. Do you have a camera in the prevalence for I'm lances are grateful Stew lives to create magical effect because they have high DePetro values. So long story, short lived. Just seat with an exam Here, I want you to understand the importance off the background in the picture. Depending on the lance, you should, with background is essentially everything that is behind your main object. I took a lot about it in my classes on still life photography, and I really encourage you to check those out because knowing about things like that can significantly improve your pictures. First image was taken with an iPhone. You can see the main object, the green plant, the candle. Everything is in focus. In fact, too much is in focus because you can see the room behind my composition. Busy background, crease traction from the main object off the picture, the green plant and hence the picture has less impact. Second image was taken with sort off Hitler's sort off because I don't have a kid lands. I brought my camera body separately and then got their 50 millimeter lens as my mainlands, and it did a fantastic job of about two years. I do, however, have a zoom list 24 85 which is close enough quality, like to the kitchens. Here again, you can see a lot in the background. It is less crispy compared to iPhone, but still the objects in the background are recognizable. Finally, third image was made with a premise, meaning it doesn't have a zoom ability. It is fixed at a specific focal distance, so the only zoom you have is to physically move yourself closer or further from your photography object. Here I used 35 millimeters lens. Now background became this smooth set of colors rather than objects. This intern then makes the main object the green plant, stand out more and separated from the Bagram. Also, we can to some extent ignore the background now because it's not visible right, So why is it important? Well, picture to have this cozy, nice, warm feeling. You want your viewer to see the composition. You make the extra lights and main object not get distracted by anything that's going on in the background. So what do you do if you don't have prevalence? Here are a few solutions for a mobile camera and a deuce alert with a kitten moving closer . Although it will not eliminate the problem off a busy and clattered background completely, it will make it less sharp at the closer you are to your main object off the picture. The less focus is the Bagram, as you can see in this example, but as mentioned before, it doesn't eliminate the problem completely for the seller. With the kittens, increase your appetite for the maximum value for a kid lands. This value would be F 3.5, however, better yet to use it with Zoom, Zoom close to you object and said highest possible aperture for that focal distance, for example. Here, I assume, to the focal distance off 38 millimeters. But at this value, the F 3.5 is not available, and the highest possible aperture value was asked 4.2, which I used. And you can see that it did work well in this case for a mobile camera and DSLR with the kitchen's She's the background. I did this quite literally here. Took the white Blank Art Congress and put it behind me. Composition. You can also just relocate to composition to the place where the background won't be that busy. For example, whitewall change the angle. If relocating is not possible, try changing the angle. Shooting from above will remove the Bagram from the picture. The surface where the objects are placed will essentially become your background. This information is quite handy to know when making you should. Usually the moves appear in pictures are simple, so always watch out for the background so that it won't destruct from your composition. Now let's move to the examples 9. Example 1: example, one this example is more about composition rather than extra lights. Because it's a daytime and there is not natural light from windows. Extra lies did not stand out very much. They, however, at this subtle, cozy home feeling Here is the location. I will be taking pictures at a window sell their explain to have light coming from doing those. I block some of it with the Kraft paper, which also serves as a natural looking, simple background. I choose it because I will shoot this composition with my sore off kit lands and with an iPhone, so I need to give the background as simple as possible. I start with a relatively simple composition that looks good without candles, just a little still. Life with coffee notice how limited my color politest the box, The coffee form and Kraft paper all complement each other nicely. I like warm colors when I should pictures that a food or beverage is related. Warm colors make those subjects more appealing and delicious. I add the cancel in the background and take a shot. Number two. Well, the candle is hidden behind the sugar jar, and because it's too light, we don't see any effect of candlelight. So I move candle to the right and take another shot number free. That's better. The composition is still the same, but the candle that's just a little variety in the background. Then I decided to add a few more candles, and the first attempt doesn't look really good. The composition is advance. There is too much empty space. At the bottom of the picture, I rearranged the candles and arrived at the picture number two, which in my opinion looks far better than the previous one. Now I used this adviser her somewhere. If you take a shot and you still don't like the composition, move closer. I used this 10 instead of leaving the objects hanging in the middle like here. Image number two. Although I do that to the compositions I prefer the most are often the ones where objects are cut and shown only partially. Like here on the first image. Here is also an example shot with an iPhone image on the right, as you can see because the composition, colors and background are simple, the image looks good on both DSLR and a phone camera 10. Example 2: example. Two. Now let's do something different this time. We will hide the candle behind the cup, but the effect will be totally different because the cup I'm using now is clear glass. One hidden behind the candle won't be visible, but the tea inside the cup will start the globe. Here is how I placed the candle arrived behind the top. Make sure the candle is small so that it won't be visible in the image. Here is how the image looks without on the left and with candle on the right, and it also works with an iPhone. To it is such a simple trip to use, but it gives a wonderful effect. 11. Example 3: example. Three. Here's another fun little creative project you can make with extra lights for this one. We will use Christmas lights, and we will have to wait until it gets darker. We will be making a dreamy brok effect, a glowing steam coming out of the teacup. To get this effect, a few conditions must be met. First of all, the bag alone has to be relatively dark. I should against the window, So I waited until it got relatively dark outside. The natural light became the blue light. Here is a comparison emission. The left was shot while it was still quite bright outside, and the bouquet is visible, not so much. And here is the last image from the session. It got much darker, and the Christmas lights effect is very visible now. Second, your opportune value has to be relatively high. Quick clarification on aperture aperture is a bit confusing because it has shown infractions the lower the number below the fraction of the high the upper shirt. So the aperture of F 1.4 is higher than off F seven. So when I say I used low aperture values, I mean something like F 11 of 16 low aperture value. Let's less light into the camera, and more off the scene is captured isn't focus. High upper to value means more light and hence less off the scene were being focused. So in this particular example, after sure off F 2.5 is higher than the aperture of F 6.3. As you can see, the higher the EPA to value the larger the bulk A circles are. This is mostly a personal trips. For example, I actually like the number good picture more than picture number free because in number free, the bouquet is just too blurry. Finally, if you should, with a kid, zoom lands zooming toe at least 50 millimeters off focal distance so that the effect will be visible. Here are a few motions from the same set up I like 1st 1 was made while it was still there . Light outside, and I actually like that Arian clean look of it, even despite the fact that book is less visible. 2nd 1 was a texture turned out interesting In my set up, The cup is not placed on the table, but on the blank art canvas. Yeah, she would do use the head a lot, and that canvas is placed on a basket to elevate the composition. I never planned to include the basket in the shop, but for some reason it worked quite well here, as well as some Christmas life's drink passing below the art canvas. So don't be afraid to go off script with your photography project. It is a great way to learn and get something unexpected. 12. Example 4: example, for as it gets darker and we're moving to the short time period of blue light, I moved closer to the window. I used same basket and Christmas lights as well as a teacup, but also added some old letters and envelopes to make composition more cozy and romantic. I start with a simple set up yet again for this particular composition to work have to be very close to my object so that the basket will act on Lee as a prop and will not grab too much attention. If I took the image from some distance, as shown on the picture Number two, the composition will be unbalanced. The cup and letters would be too small compared to the basket, and I don't want the basket to be a focus point of the picture. So I move closer and use a rather high official value off. Ask 2.5, because I'm focusing on the cup and the basket is behind it. The details off the basket are blurred since it's out of focus, as in picture number free. Have you noticed the car contrast off blue from window and yellow for lights, the darker it gets the more noticeable those colors will contrast with each other well up to the point when there would be no natural light outside. Of course. So next thing I wanted to try is to simplify the background even more. And I used my trustworthy old friend a white blank art conversed. Seriously, this thing is the most use photography item I have. Despite the fact that I have blocked some of the life from the window. It still does live a lot of blue cast on the left. It's off the composition. I make this shot and noticed that while placing the background, some of the Christmas lights were relegated and now the cup is not glowing as before, so I play some of the lights right behind the cup. Another thing I changed on the picture number free is I rotated. The baskets handle more to the background, so it will be even less focus because in the image number two, the handle looks a bit too sharp for me. Okay, let me show you a few more tweaks I did to the composition. I added this little clock back and made another picture, but same has with tea because no lights are there. It looks too dark. So I rearranged the lights and this image number two those better. Finally, I tried another angle and even closer shot. Instead of focusing on the cap, I focused on the lights closes to me because the opportune value is still relatively high and I'm really close to the lights. Everything else is not out off the focus. This kind of images are really a matter of personal preferences. I for sure love this womb sickle out of focus effect. Others may prefer having more off the scene and focused to get this blurry, said, getting very close to a composition. Even have a kit lens zoom uddin and use high aperture value. It got even darker, but there was still some blue color outside, so I removed the blank art converse and played with the Christmas light Reflections in the window. I did it before. Here, in the very first image, he must number one, but the effect is more visible when his darker. You can also see that now, because it is dark outside. Anything off other colors outside is gone. Look at the image number one here, There is some green outside while all the image number two it is all blue now to add some variety to the pictures I made already, I completely change the angle of the shot and get to the picture number free. And finally, the rough to shows and wait with an iPhone noticed that in both cases the background is simple. On the left, it is the blank art converse on the right I should from above. So the background is the white window. So So this kind of images are totally doable with a mobile camera, just which out and simplify the background. 13. Example 5: example. Five and finally, just a few notes on the situation. What it is already dark outside. I left my set up almost the same, although I did remove the basket and Christmas lights, substituting them with candles. There is just a little bit of blue color outside, but it doesn't affect the cars off the composition anymore. One problem you may face when doing pictures without any other sources of light, except for the extra lights like candles, here is the proper exposure off the image. See, the candles are very bright themselves, but they still don't expose other objects enough. So if I expose for my composition of the T in this case, the candles will be just right. White spots. This can be saved in my trunk by reducing the highlights and whites, as I did here. Another way to deal with this problem is to put scandal behind, as in this picture, and put another one outside of the frame of your image so it will provide some exposure but will not be visible this way. You don't really have to reduce whites and highlights because the candles are not visible, but they still offer nice light effects and exposure, and we're down with example Number five. I really hope you enjoyed it 14. Conclusion and project: and to the most exciting part is your project. We all know that the best way to learn something you is to put them you knowledge into practice. So, for your project, I want you to capture your favorite for drink. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate tried to pictures one without extra lights and one with extra choice. The choice of light is yours. Whatever you have attempt, tell me if it was easy to achieve the look you wanted or if you encountered some difficulties and I will gladly help you out. If you want to learn more about still life all food photography, check out. These two are the classes where I took in a lot more details about composition, light and mistakes. I really hope you enjoyed this class. And if you did, please leave a thumbs up right here. Have fun and I will see in the next plus