Still Life Photography: Natural Light Blackberry Setup By A Window | DENISE LOVE | Skillshare

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Still Life Photography: Natural Light Blackberry Setup By A Window

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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class project


    • 3.

      Berry Inspiration Sets


    • 4.

      Background options


    • 5.

      Prop options for our sets


    • 6.

      Styling our set


    • 7.

      Natural lighting with supplement light


    • 8.

      DSLR Camera settings


    • 9.

      My Go-to Composition


    • 10.

      Shoot Recap & Editing in Lightroom


    • 11.

      Final thoughts


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About This Class

Still life photography is my favorite type of photography. You can set up a space in your own home without the need for a huge studio. We can get creative with our sets and props. And the best part is we can shoot any day all year long no matter the weather outside. I enjoy coming up with creative sets and I can't wait to share with you today's setup.

In this class we'll cover:

  • Some inspiration from past sets I have done with different berries to give you an idea of all the different setups that are possible.
  • Styling your set up near a window for natural light
  • How I supplement the light when it is dark or rainy outside
  • We'll take a look at my setup and talk about options for your props
  • We'll also look at my final photo from this setup and do some editing.

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. A few props you want to use for your setup and some berries.

Meet Your Teacher

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Artist & Photographer

Top Teacher

Hello, my friend!

I'm Denise, and I'm a mixed-media artist, photographer, and creator of digital resources and creative workshops.

I have always been passionate about art and the creative process, and have spent my career exploring various mediums and techniques. Whether I am working with paint, pencils, or pixels, I am constantly seeking to push the boundaries of what is possible and find new ways to express myself.

In addition to creating my own artwork, I also love sharing my skills and knowledge with others through workshops and classes. I believe creativity is a vital part of life, and I'm dedicated to helping others discover and cultivate their own artistic abilities.

I'm so glad to have you here on my Art channel.

Looking forward to... See full profile

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1. Introduction: I love working in my studio doing still life photos and today we're going to do a setup inspired by some berry shoots that I did. I'm Denise Love and I'm a still life photographer based out of Atlanta, Georgia. Today we are going to do a setup with blackberries inspired by a setup of blueberries that I have done in the past. I do have some printouts of the blueberry set. Just to give you an example of the photos that I loved so much I had them printed in a beautiful pair that I could then frame and hang here in my house. I want you to get inspired to shoot a few berry photos for yourself. That is one of the very easiest things that I thought we could get at the grocery store. We have very few props that we need to come together. We can shoot in a window here in our own home and come up with some beautiful photos. In today's class, I'm going to show you my setup, my prop choices and things that you might consider, different berry things that you might try out. I'm going to talk about the lighting and today it's really cloudy outside because it's going to be storming later, so I'm going to show you how I supplement the light on a setup like this. We're going to talk about camera settings and do a little bit of editing. I know you're really going to love what we've got to share today and I can't wait to see what photos that you come up with, so I'll see you in class. 2. Class project: Your class assignment today is to come up with two different photos, from your setup that you took. In my blueberry example, I have a pull-back and I have a close-up, and that's what I want you to take your inspiration from, for your class project. I want you to take a pull-back, larger part of your scene. I want you to get in close and give me a detailed shot of some part of your scene, and come back and share that, with the class. 3. Berry Inspiration Sets: [MUSIC] I just want to take you through a set of inspiration photos to show you different berries that I've done in the past that inspired the blackberry setup and that show you different compositions and details that you might get inspiration for, for your own sets. Here's where I started with the berries and the pretty vessel. You can see when I was telling you I like tarnished vessels, I don't like them so tarnish that it looks disgusting and dirty, but I do like them slightly tarnish so that it gives yummy interest. I started out with a pull-back, and then did that top-down berry setup. That's where I was inspired of that in my blackberries and in Photoshop I would go through and clean this up a little more, because of slight pieces of puss in this photo, but I still love this photo. Then I took a photo of the fabric that we were using on the table just as another detail picture, and then picture of some berries by themselves. Now they're angle of our photo and now we can see the fabric that we're down on. Then a real far pull back so I can definitely see that window back there. Even though, maybe, everything behind the window, I don't know, for some reason I just truly love this photo, even though I can see the black and the curtain back there, it doesn't even bother me. Funny that. Then I tried this setup with cherries. There's that fabric I was showing you in our fabric section. I did have some fake cherry blossom branches in the back of this setup, which I almost wish I had left out, because it just looks like pink splotches back there, but I still like it, so I don't mind it too bad. But I did the same exact setup with the cherries and that different fabric completely changed the whole look of our setup compared to the blueberry. I went in for that detail shot, came in from the top for the top shot and changed the fabric out to see how that would change my whole vision. I wish I had taken the pink flowers off the back of that. This is exactly too why like visiting a set more than once. If I set this up today and I thought, I love all that back there, then I go on the computer and I thought, it's distracting. I didn't love it. Now I could go back to that tomorrow and shoot that set again and leave that off, that element that I didn't like, and get the better photo. Nice detail shot of our cherries and then just coming in for different angles. I hope that shows you different berries, different fabrics, different backgrounds, close up, far back, all the different feels, look at that as I went from that one to that, completely different feel to that photo. I hope you get inspired to try a berry setup of your own. Go visit the antique store and see what yummy vessel you can find or look around your house for pretty baskets, silver vessels, antique, fun things that you can set things in and give this a go. I can't wait to see what you come up with [MUSIC] 4. Background options: Let's talk about our setup here. I'm just setting up on my beat up wood table. You can set up on a foley table near a window with a photography board. That photography board could be a board that you've made. It can be some wood flooring that you've nailed together for a little board, it can be some vintage piece where lots of cheapy paint is on it. It can be something you photographed and printed on, some foam core board. It can really be anything that you can use as a surface to sit on. But now, for my general photography things, I like to work on this table because it's a big beat up table, the legs fold and I can put it in the closet. But when this surface of this table doesn't work for me, because I used to work over here on a cheap plastic folding table and set photography boards on it. When this surface doesn't work for me, I can do the same and set boards on it. I would recommend you set up near a window with, at the very minimum, just a cheap plastic folding table, two-by-four is perfect and you can put it in the closet when you're not using it, and then use some type of photo boards or something on top of that surface, that becomes the surface you're setting up on top of. For this setup, that surface matters less to me than the fabrics and the stuff that I'm using because I like to shoot for a lot of blur, so most of, say, this surface here, you're never even going to see in my particular photos. If you like to shoot with a lot of clarity, a lot of focus, you want to not have hardly any blur at all, then this surface might be more important depending on if it's showing in the photo. Just keep that in mind. Another thing that I'm using here, I'm going to adjust our camera a little bit. Behind our setup is just my black painted backdrop that always just sits back there. I like it for a couple of reasons. It's really nice just to soak up the light back behind there, and give me the dark, moody feel that I like in a lot of photos. I just keep that hanging back there. It's a drop cloth that I got from the paint department at the hardware store, a drop cloth, and I painted it out on my driveway. I just rolled paint on it in a dark charcoal gray color. I liked it to be more of a charcoal than a true black because then I've got an opportunity to have some depth in that darkness whereas when it's black, it's almost too stark and I lose some of the depth that I'm wanting to feel. I like that that's a dark gray that I keep hanging back there. While it's not actually part of today's photo, it really is, it's a nice dark background behind my vintage window. Sometimes I have that old window sitting in the window, in my real window here. I'll open the windows so you don't see these cross hatches there of the window and then I'll have that vintage window sitting there and you really feel like that's an old window since I live in a more modern townhouse. I don't live in a 200 year old farmhouse that would have that really cool window in it already. I live in a townhouse built in 1974 so we have these ugly, more modern windows. I'll lift that and set that in the vintage window in front of my window, and take pictures like that if I feel like I need that window right there where a window traditionally sits. But today, I've actually sat this behind my setup as you can see. Some of this has glass and some of it doesn't, and I don't even care if it had no glass at all, that would be fine, nothing will glare on it. But sometimes some of that glass glare is interesting. I don't even mind that half the glass is missing and half the glass is not, I just go for it. It's the perfect size. This is about a two foot by 30 inches wide window. I used to have a gigantic one that was set on the floor and was still that tall. It was so big and heavy and paint flaked off everywhere every time I moved it. Then at some point, I came across this smaller window and I thought aha, much better size for my little working table here by my window. I was very excited because I even like the wood mullions in here. I love that they're not in a traditional even pattern. It's very interesting and so I love keeping my eyes open for interesting vintage cheapy windows with interesting patterns on. Today I've got it sitting in front of our black charcoal gray background because I'll be shooting this way. I want light coming in from the angle. To do that and to have this window as the backdrop, I want it to be behind it and the light coming in. It's going to be in blur so you're not really going to see everything that's going on in this corner. You'll see it, but it'll be so blurred that your mind will be filling in the gaps of what you mentally think that could be. It just makes for interest back there. It's not like everything's in focus and you can see exactly the window, the curtain, the wall, the backdrop. You can't really see all those details in the photo with the amount of blur that I have going on back there. It's just stripes of color basically, and I love that. My setup is vintage table with an old window and that black backdrop just giving me an overall darkness back there. You can be really creative if you've got beautiful windows with a deep sill, and you want to set your setup in that window on that sill, how beautiful would that be? Be creative, decide what you want to set up as your backdrop. It could be a solid color backdrop, it could be a wall, it could be a wall with vintage artwork on it. That would be cool. I mean, there's all kinds of wonderful things that you can move around, and set this on, and take that photo. If you had a fireplace with a mantel on it and some great vintage photos hanging out behind it, maybe that could sit on the mantel. I don't know, just start looking around and thinking what it is that you might like a berry set out to be and then take some photos. 5. Prop options for our sets: I want to talk about some different options that you can consider for your props for a berry setup. I've actually done this setup with lots of different berries because I love it. The different berries all give me different looks because I pick different fabrics, I might pick different vessels. The berries are different colors so I have lots of choices there when I'm shooting the berries for the different things I want to change up to make the subtle little bit different. This time I've chosen to do blackberries. I've got fresh blackberries from the grocery store. I did get them a couple of days ago and they've sat in the refrigerator for several days and the fresher the berry the better because once they sit in this container for long enough, some of the sides get yucky just from being all smushed into their container. If you're going to do a berry setup, I would definitely do fresh berries and I would do them fairly soon after you get them from your grocery store. I've done this with blueberries and you could do it with strawberries, cranberries, cherries, all kinds of different options depending on what's in season. These are easier to do in season, obviously because that's when you can get the berries. But today I have chosen to do blackberries and that's fun because blackberries have a range of colors on and they're not truly black. There's a range of almost like a deep black, purpley color to a light maroon color on some of these. That's pretty fun to play with. I also like to use a pedestal, and the pedestal is just a small cake stand, or cupcake stand, or anything like that. I'm going to be covering it up so you're not actually going to see the pedestal. Any type of little thing that you can use as a riser up a couple of inches that you can drape fabric on would be fine. You could turn a pot upside down and drape fabric on it and that would be fine. I'm just looking here for height more than anything. This is not necessarily for this picture part of my picture. Then I like this some type of vessel to put the berries in. I have this pewter-looking vessel that I've got at the antique markets several years ago. It's one of my favorite. It reminds me of I Dream of Jeannie with the way the sides come up and it looks like a magical like if I rubbed the magic lamp, if it had like a lamp top up, it could be like almost magic lamp looking. I like to get the silver that I purchased. I don't want it to be expensive, so I go for inexpensive pieces and I like it to be tarnished. I don't shine it up, because if we look at the side of this, it is tarnished and I think that adds interest to the photo and keeps off a lot of glare. I like tarnished silver. I don't like to spend a lot on it and I like it to be something unique and unusual, then maybe you don't see every day, but that fits my aesthetic. If you like more modern-looking and clean lines, or if you like something that doesn't have little handles on it. I mean, that's up to what you can find and what look you're trying to create, and what props you really love and what you're drawn to. I'm drawn to these pretty decorative, very elaborate shapes. It's really nice because in the setup that I have going today, it's rustic. Like maybe we're at my rustic farmhouse in prevalence, or Tuscany, or something, and we're about to make a blackberry pie. You'll see the fabrics that I'm using is implied as the fabrics that are in that room and got my fancy little dish with my rustic little window. We're telling a story with the things that we pull together. That story is just dependent on what story you're trying to tell. I'm trying to tell rustic elegance feel here. When I print these and hang them in my house, that's the feel I want that photo to give off for somebody. Some type of vessel. You want some type of riser, or some type of vessel, some type of berry. Then we have tons of different fabric choices that will make or change the story of your piece. This fabric here is a blue and white wall. This is a piece that I got to do with blackberries. I don't generally like kitchen napkins and kitchen towels in my photo setups because the fabric is very stiff. It doesn't dry very well. It just block, just sits there. But for this setup and the way that I wish to photograph it, the stiffness of the fabric matters less than the pattern and the overall feel of the fabric. I do have several kitchen towels and napkins that I've used for different berries sets. It just added to my story. This is a fabric and it's a napkin. This is a kitchen towel. It's got a little hook on it, like a little dish towel maybe. This one is a kitchen napkin completely different field and the blue one. This one I did a cherry set up with, I thought that these little splotches in here were the coloring of my cherries and it helped me to my cherry story in a completely different way than I told my strawberry story. It helped me tell my story in a completely different way than my blueberry story when I was telling my cherry story. I love that piece. Look around different kitchen napkins. Those you can get pretty inexpensively at the different places that can sell kitchen fabric things. I don't know, you can get kitchen napkins anywhere early. This is new, it's not antique, but I thought the pattern was fantastic and the coloring was fine for cherries. Generally, I tried to pick fabrics that are gauzy, drapey. This is a baby wrap. That's one of the more favorite kinds of fabrics that I like to look for cheesecloth because you can see just as I carelessly draped that on there, how beautiful the draping and the wrinkles turn out for us with very little effort. This is the kind of fabric I normally look for. This would be perfect with even a vintage piece draped on it so that you've got a little bit of, say this pretty color that could imply one fabric in the setting in this antique lace that implies another pattern in our setting. Then our better piece on top of our riser, and you can see why it is here that I like different heights because now, if I take this photo from straight on, I'm implying different heights in our setting and it's not just sitting down on the table. Different types of fabrics to look for there. Then for this setup, I think I'm actually going to use a burlap, which I really hadn't found hardly any use for a piece of burlap, but I came on some flowers, but I like the colors. Then this piece of fabric sample in a vintage pattern that's on it. Today I think I'm going to use these vintage pieces to imply my elegant rustic farmhouse. That could be an implication of the fabrics in that room. These are upholstery weight fabric here. This one drapes a little better because I think it's more of a linen or maybe a linen silk. It does have a little more movement, but for the most part, not very much. If the wrinkles are going to show up, or bother you, go ahead and iron that before you use it in your setup. Then the burlap, I don't really need it, but I had enough thought to be an extra texture in there if it shows at any point in our setting. That is the basic components and props that we're looking for. We're looking for some type of fabric to use in our setting. Some type of little pedestal cake stand and cupcake stand. Something to give us some height that we can drape the fabric on top of. Pick a berry out, strawberry, blueberries, raspberry, cherry, cranberry, anything like that. It's small and round that you can pour into the vessel that you pick, and then you want some type of vessel. I have decided that I like silver vessels with the berries for myself. You go out looking, or see what you got in your kitchen cabinets, or hanging about your house, or hanging up in the attic, or check out what all your friends have and see if you can borrow some pretty vessels and change these out and get different looks. You could use little baskets, you could use little bowls, you could use little silver vessels like I've done lots of different options there that you can choose for your props. 6. Styling our set: I'm going to go ahead and style our set and get us started working here. I've already got a pile of blueberries in my vessel. I'm going to just use this as an underneath fabric that may or may not show. I thought it would be a nice texture if I needed it. Got my nice piece of upholstery fabric with these vintage ladies, like they came out of a painting. I'm going to put my nice vessel here. Then I've got extra blueberries. I've got enough to fill vessel, and then a few extras to maybe have some sitting in front of the vessel possibly. You got to be careful with the berries. If your berries are old and they're already starting to ooze because they've been sitting in this container for a couple of days longer than they should have, if you're concerned about your piece of fabric, pick a berry that's not oozing because this berry juice will come out and soak onto your fabric. Either let this be a non-important piece of fabric or don't let it be like your grandmother's antique white table peace with the lace on it that means a great deal to you and then have blackberry juice soak on to it and then you think, oh no, how do I get that out? I'm very upset because that was important to me, which is why today I'm not using this pretty antique one with the lace on and I think this is such a beautiful piece. I don't want blackberry juice all over it. It's not as important to me as something my grandmother might've gave me, but still important to me because I want it to be blemish free of blackberry juice or blueberry juice or whatever it is I've used. Let this be a less important piece of fabric if you're using berries that aren't completely fresh and firm. If it's got any juice oozing out on it, you'll definitely stain your fabrics. This is my basic setup. Then I'll just play with this coming closer and further away from the light, seeing where I want to shoot here on this window, which part of that window I want to be in my photo, whether it be this part over here or the big wide open part or this part on this side. I'll need to decide if I'm shooting down, shooting forward, coming from this angle here, coming from this angle on this side. When I go to the trouble of thinking up a set and then setting everything up and getting it all ready to start photographing, I want to spend some time at this setup then moving things around. Maybe I want some top-down or the very end of the container. I want to get as many photos as possible as this setup and I may come back a couple of days in a row. If it's something like berries, you can always put those in the refrigerator and then they're ready for like tomorrow to try again or to try a different vessel with a different fabric. You could shoot berry pictures all week on a pack of berries that you picked from outside or that you got from the store, just put them in the refrigerator every night and pull them back out the next day and then change out your fabric and change out your vessel, and change out your backgrounds, and then see what that shoot that day could look like. Lots of fun things that we can do with berries. I like it because you can shoot on them for a whole week before you might decide, I need to eat these before they go bad. This is my set up today and we'll take as many photos as I can of it and then see what we got. 7. Natural lighting with supplement light: Let's talk about our lighting here for our setup in the window. Today it's supposed to be stormy and the sun's behind the clouds when I started shooting this and then the sun came out from behind the clouds which we can see here on our setup. It's going in and out of the clouds but it's really heavy cloud cover today. What I'm going to do on moments when the sun is shining our way is I'm going to use my photography diffuser and I will set that in the window for the moments when the sun is shining too much. This is my diffuser, mine's quite big but that's what it is, is the center part of a reflector. Let me show you a reflector. This is my two-foot reflector, it's a little bit smaller. Guys, the thing has got the gold and the silver in the black and the white and will reflect light back in on stuff. If you unzip that coating to trade it out, the center of that is the light diffuser. This is my favorite part of the reflector, the light diffuser. If the sun is shining directly in on my set, I will use this diffuser to diffuse that light while the sun is shining, so I don't have really harsh light and shadows on my setup. I'll carry this two-foot one around when I'm outside shooting also because then I'll have it to cover flowers and things when I'm out the botanical gardens. You can see now that light has really come outside the clouds and it's overdoing our setup here. When I have this much light coming in, I'll close my curtains. If I still have too much light shining on my set and I can see the sun and the shadow actually show up on my setup then I'll put the diffuser there also. Then as the sun recedes back behind the clouds which is exactly what it's doing right now. If the cloud covers too heavy or I'm shooting at a time of the day when maybe the sun is on the other side of the building then I need to supplement that light with another light sometimes and I do that with a ring light. I've got my ring light sitting over here. That's an 18-inch LED ring light. I do like the LED ring light better than the fluorescent ring light not because it puts out any better light. They both put out the same light. It's both calibrated for the same color. When you're using one or the other, you're not going to know the difference of the light that you've used there because the color is correct. You want the around 5,600 Kelvin, I think is around 55, 5,600. It's the day light color, it's not yellow, it's not ultra blue, it's more like the natural sunlight coming in the window color. It's a very clean light. It doesn't matter which one you have. The reason why I like the LED one is because I had a fluorescent one and one day I was in here doing stuff and I knocked it over and it fell to the ground, the round part did, the whole thing fell over and the fluorescent bulb broke. To replace the fluorescent bulb was like 100 bucks a bulb. I only paid like $100 for the whole setup. Even though I found one that had a price that almost look like it was out of stock and never coming back in stock and so it was extremely difficult to even find a bulb to get. I got a whole another fixture ring light. I got two LED lights now, because I like to light up a bunch of things like photography sets and filming setups like we're doing today and use it as task lighting at my art desk because it's really bright. What I do, you see I can turn these on and I can now control how much light is coming in on this window when I want to supplement the light. Even though I have lots of different studio lights, I got box lights, I got a handheld lights, I got tabletop lights and I got ring lights because I had to try them all before I decided, Oh, here's what I like. The reason why I like the ring lights it's because they take up no space like this right here, it's two inches. I can put it right here in the window and supplement the natural light coming in. That's the way I prefer to shoot with lighting. I want to shoot in natural light because it is the most beautiful natural looking lighting to have. But on days when it's too dark, I want the natural lights still. The natural light is all infusing, seems to just get into all Linux and crannies and gives you the most beautiful light and shadow of everything. But some days are just not enough light and I feel like shooting, so I will supplement that natural light with my ring light, my artificial lighting and the LED is completely dimmable or not. But the reason why I don't like using studio lights by themselves is, this light sources this wide, it's very directional. It's not shooting off here to the side and infusing everything. It's a very directional light. I don't like using it in a room by itself, over on a different wall with no window light. Because I don't like the way the light looks. That could just be my own preference, it might be in my mind. If you want to set up in a studio setup not near a window on the other side of the room or in a room without a window, that's perfectly fine. You're just hearing my preferences after shooting for so many years. The reason why I like this LED light is because it's 100 percent dimable. The fluorescent one was not. See I can control how much light I need. The other feature that I like on this one, you don't get on all of them is this bendable head right here. Not all of them have this. Usually the light sits on top of the pole and is straight up. But if you get one with this bendable attachment on it now, you can control where that light goes. That's the best feature right there. I do not have that on the fluorescent light that I had. I want to order another one because I wanted two lights. I accidentally ordered the LED with the bendy head. Then when I broke my fluorescent one I'm like, "I'll work through this other one anyway. Because this feature is my second favorite feature after being able to completely dim or put all the way up the light." Those two features are what make that ring light my favorite. It's so thin I can sit it in a window and continue shooting in my setup. Whereas if I had a box light, box lights are two-foot deep, they're huge. They take up so much space. In my little studio area, if I ever had one set up, it was always in the way. Because actually a two-setup because I use two lights for everything usually. They were huge and I couldn't even get around this little room without bumping into a light. To make it work for me, I had to break them down every time I was done with them and get them out of the way. Then and I was like, "Oh goodness, I got to pull those back out. Put them back together." You just end up not using them if they're so inconvenient. The ring lights just move around the room to where I needed. They sit in my R table for test gliding then they move right over there in the window and they'll let me bend right into my set, so that I'm ready to shoot. That is my favorite lighting. Lots of people will use different things and tell you why they like it. That's why I like that. I'm not really a flash person. I do have a big flash and have never used it because I just don't like flash photos. Again, my own personal preference, that's part of the things that go into the elements that create your style. Playing with all the different options that everybody else might be trying to use and deciding for yourself, what do you like? What works for you in the space that you're shooting and makes it convenient, so that you're ready to photograph on a regular basis? I want it to be easy. I want it to be convenient. I want to be able to walk right in here and shoot whether it's cloudy or sunny. I need that convenience, so that I don't want to make the effort today which is also another reason why I like to shoot in my house. I could have an offsite studio file on it. I have the means to be able to pay that monthly fee if I wanted to set up a studio in a warehouse where some of these artists can [inaudible] where they have little studios that you can rent. But I now know myself well enough to know if I move all my stuff to a studio offsite, I'm never going to go. I'm going to think, "Oh, I don't want to drive all the way over there today. I'm going to waste that money that I pay every month for that studio." I need it to be convenient for me to pick my camera up on a regular basis and continue shooting and improving my skill. But I didn't used to do that. I used to shoot everything out with the photo clubs. We would have the setup with the old car city and we'd go shoot for the day and I come home and edit. I never did anything in my house. But as the years go on and different things happen, studio setups have really become my go-to thing because even when you set up and you go out, so you liked the botanical gardens or an old junk yard or something like that. You've got to go on a day when the weather is cooperating. I personally don't want it to be a day in the summer because here the summers it could be 100 degrees. I don't want to go out and shoot in the middle of winter because I come from the South, I'm used to the warmth. When it's 20 degrees outside, I'm cold. Now, I want to be able to create beautiful art in a setting that I know I'm going to want to come and shoot in a regular basis. For me that is picking a window in my house where I can control the environment, I can control every aspect of my setup, I can come back to it several days in a row, I can think up new exciting things. I love shopping for props and fabrics. That's a side benefit of loving to do this type of photography because I love to shop for all that fun stuff. That's our little lighting thing. If you've got enough light coming in the window, you can defuse it with your photo diffuser, if you need to. If you've got direct sun hitting that set, if you don't have enough light coming in the window, this is my favorite way currently to supplement that light. You might look at the 18-inch LED ring lights with the bendable head option for something like that because it really has been the best. I'll see you back in class. 8. DSLR Camera settings: Let's take a look at our cameras set up. In a setup like this, sometimes I'm most likely to not be shooting on a tripod. Sometimes I'm shooting on a tripod. But most times I'm moving all around it doing my best to steady myself. In that case, I need that camera setting to be fast enough that I'm not shaking the camera and making my whole picture blurry. On this setup, I'm shooting with the manual lens. The lens maybe the over 56. That's my own personal favorite lens. That's one of those decisions that as you're working your way through your photography and the things you want do, that's one of those things that you decide that then helps define your style. I've decided that I love the velvet out of all the lenses that I have, the very best. I used to shoot with the 50-millimeter lens. If you don't have an art lens and let's say you just have one lens choice for years and years and years, the 50 millimeter was my go-to lens because I don't like a zoom lens that came with the camera because it's kind of cheap glass and it doesn't have a fixed aperture and I shoot for the blur. That's another decision that I've made that defines my style. I like blur, so I need an aperture that's going to be wide enough that I'm going to be able to have that blur. The nifty fifty like 1.8 is a perfect lens for that and you let your feet do the zoom in. If you get too used to using a zoom lens, you almost get lazy. I feel like a fixed lens, the glass is better, there's less moving parts, you get the sharper, crisper image, and you usually get an aperture wide enough to do anything that you want to do. The nifty fifty, the 1.8 aperture lens is a very inexpensive choice. If you can just buy a camera body and a lens, that's what I would get. Then on top of the nifty fifty, I used that for years and years and years. The 50 millimeter 1.4 is the very nice upgrade to that. The glass is a little nicer on that lens. I love it because you could shoot wide-open almost at 1.4. But that's wider than I usually shoot because that would be like having the aperture so wide that let's say you're taking a picture of my face, the only thing that will be in focus would be the tip of my nose whereas maybe I want my all face in focus. Even on those lenses that give me those wider choices, I'm hardly ever actually shooting on wide open. Even when I say, I like it wide open, I don't like it wide, wide open. I usually like somewhere in between 2.8 and 4. On these, I'm shooting at f4. I'm getting enough blur but enough detail on the background to satisfy my need for the blur behind there. But I have enough detail in the photo so that I can fill in in my mind what's back there. I can see it, that that's probably a window. I also like shooting at a high enough ISO that maybe I can handhold my shutter with my shutter speeds. Some ISO on the cheaper cameras that I used to have, I tried to keep under 400, so 100, 200, or 400, because anything higher than that was getting very grainy because the ISO controls how sensitive that camera sensor is. The more sensitive it is, the more artifacts it picks up, the more grain that it adds. I know you've seen pictures that maybe were taken at night and it just looks like tons of little dots on it because that's all the grain that got picked up. If you get that consumer-grade camera, the one that you just buy off the shelf on a retail store, normally that's going to have a sensor that above 400 is going to start adding a lot of grain that we would prefer not to have. I'll try to keep it under 400 on the lesser cameras. Once you start getting up into the pro cameras and like this camera that I'm shooting on today, it's the 5D Mark III from Canon, which is a prior version to the one they have out now. This one was such a good camera for years and years and years that I don't feel the need to upgrade to the newest camera. I don't have to have the newest version every year. I only upgrade when I figure out what this camera won't do for me that I needed to do. I keep cameras for a long time and I don't switch them out or get new ones unless I have a need. Some people are like, "I'm getting a new camera every year." I'm like, "Man, how can you afford that?" What I like on these nicer upper-end pro cameras is that you could probably shoot up to 1,000 ISO. You can be in nicer lower light situations before the camera starts adding all that grain. I like it because I could put this on ISO and push it a lot more at 1,000 and get that shutter speed fast enough. If I needed to slow down, I don't have to always be on a tripod. I'm shooting today though at closer to maybe 800 because it is lower light today. Still in that, I want to be anything over 1/160 of a second for my exposure. On this one, for instance, I'm on the 1/400 of a second to get the proper exposure. I probably could have made that ISO a little bit lower than I had it and then that shutter speed would have been 1/125 of a second probably and I would have got that same exposure there. All of those settings work together for us. If you're not comfortable figuring out all those settings on your own, I would shoot in the AV, the aperture mode on your camera, so that you can decide how much blur do I want. I know more than any other number that I want, my lens usually set up on f4. If I know that number and it's set, yours maybe you want everything in focus and you want it to be on f8. If you know that one number, then you can put that in aperture mode on your camera, it can be AV mode, and then the camera will figure out your ISO and your shutter speed for you. Then you don't have to figure all that out yourself to get the best exposure on camera. Because my goal is not to fix it in Photoshop, I don't want to take a photo that's underexposed and lose detail in the darkness. I don't want one that's so overexposed and lose detail in the lightness. Because when you lose that detail back there, that information that the camera didn't pick up because it was so far overexposed, you just see wider and so far underexposed, you just see black, you may not be able to recover that information. It's never my goal to take an underexposed or overexposed photo and fix it in Photoshop because I may not be able to get that information back once captured over or under. I want it to be as pretty dead on correctly exposed. Then when I get to Photoshop, I have less work, I have less things to fix. I don't have to manipulate things to the point that I'm like, "What the heck was that?" I can just do my little tweaks and move on to the next photo. I want the best composition in photo. I want the best picture coming out a camera that basically says, wow, before I even start editing anything in Photoshop. Generally, when I'm editing then I'm adding contrast and tweaking the exposure and maybe tweaking the curve on it to make it a little more matte because I like it to look a little bit more film-like coming when I'm finished. But other than that, I want it to be just a few basic tweaks and I want to be done. Try your hardest to get the best exposure in camera. At least pick your aperture. If you're not sure what your favorite aperture is, take your one photo, set up on a tripod, put it in aperture mode, AV mode on your camera, and then whatever the widest aperture you have available, say you're shooting with a nifty fifty, so that might be a 1.8. Start at 1.8 and then move that aperture up one dial, take the photo, move it up, take the photo, move it up, take the photo. You're taking at 1.8, 2.8, 3.5, whatever the numbers are, just take one at each one of those. Then look at them on your computer with the whole series and decide somewhere in between maximum blur and maximum focus is going to be your favorite. Which one of those is your favorite? That's how you're going to figure out how much blur that you like and what a go-to setting on your lens could be. That's how I know on mine, f4 tends to be where I'm loving my photos with this particular lens. Every single lens, that setting could be slightly different. You could do that whole little series of tests with each lens that you have. Then you'll know when you put that lens on your camera, your go-to setting is this, you can put this on aperture mode, let your camera figure it out, or if you're getting comfortable with manual, you can start doing those settings on camera figuring out your correct exposure. All right, I will see you back in class. 9. My Go-to Composition: Let's talk about composition for one moment here while I have this picture up on the back of our camera. You'll notice my favorite composition tends to be shooting towards the rule of thirds. If I imagine that there's a line here, and a line here, and a line here, and a line here, I've got a grid. If I'm lining up my subject here on the left line or the right line, or the top line, or the bottom line and you can see these grids when you're looking through your viewfinder on your camera. I could turn that grid on if I needed to see it on the back end of this but usually I'm centering up my subject and then I'm shifting my camera slightly left, slightly right, slightly up or slightly down. Then my subject is no longer dead center. Off-center rule of thirds moving it slightly to the left or the right makes for a much more interesting composition. There's lots of rules of composition but at the very minimum, I want you to start thinking in your mind, here's my subject, let's move slightly to the left or slightly to the right. I want you to start off centering your photo so that your composition instantly becomes a bit more interesting. Usually when you're shooting and you're looking at your scene and you're shooting straight on and your subject is right in the center, it's usually the very least interesting composition that you could come up with. It's boring, it's no thought put into, almost feeling. I always shift slightly to the left, right or up or down depending on your orientation of your camera there. That being said, even when you discover all the rules, there are times to break it. If you're taking the most fabulous picture of a flower, for instance, having it centered, all the petals radiate out from the center, could be the perfect time to have a centered picture. Even though centered, most times, is the wrong answer still there are times you can break that rule. I want you to keep in mind, so center up your photo and then shift slightly left or right. Try to do more rule of thirds for your settings there. I'll see you back in class. 10. Shoot Recap & Editing in Lightroom: I thought we might just go through a couple of the photos that I took today. I didn't take as many as I normally take, because this is a setup that I've revisited a couple of times with different berries. I have in my mind some of the things that I really, really liked about the previous sets. This was one of the things that I loved bury blueberry on the cloth, focus and the other stuff in the blur. I also took that, but it's more centered. Even though it's slightly crooked and you've got to be real careful taking the photos that you don't have your head tilted when you're looking through the camera, because tilting your head tilts the photo if you didn't realize that. But you'll notice on the one that I just had, I had it a little more off-center, whereas this one is a little more centered. It almost seems less interesting centered. When we were talking about composition, in my mind I think a thought I centered that one but I must not have. I don't know but off-centered it, but even on something like this one, you might go ahead and off-center that. We can fix composition in Photoshop obviously, we can crop. But what I don't like about fixing in Photoshop again is we lose all of this information. We lose all those pixels and all that size. When I'm all done, I want the biggest size photo possible. I don't want to have that cropped photo and then not being able to do as much as I'd like to do with it. I do like rule of thirds better than centered or better than crooked, and this one is slightly crooked. I like to have this berry detail. I also like to have it pulled back slightly with the glass window behind it just barely show in back there. I also liked this setup where it was portrait orientation rather than landscape orientation. You get a different feel to your photo with the different orientations there. I'm just flagging a couple of these to edit it. I also did the top-down photo, but I think I'm going to need to go back and do that one again, it's not really turned out the way I want it. I'm sure I could edit and get it there, but I don't know. I like some of my blueberry ones and my cherry one's a little better and that maybe one I visit again with the blackberries. Some of these blackberries had started to age. They had been sitting in the refrigerator for a couple of days in their container and they have a yucky spot or two on it. I just don't know that I love that angle on this set of berries. I may get another set of blackberries later and try again. I don't know, we'll see. This was one of my favorite coming in on the window. Let's just take the couple that I've flagged and I'm going to edit one of these forests. But I like it pulled back, I like this angle and orientation. I think these two are my favorite. For this set, if I was doing for the class project and I wanted say, a pull back and detail, this could be my detail. It's not as close in as the blueberry detail that I showed you in the intro, but it is really pretty detail shot. Let's go ahead and edit this. I'm just going to up the exposure hair and I may come back and revisit that. I'm just looking up here at my histogram and I want there to be a nice range from dark to light. As you can see here where it's photographed is a little darker. I do like that slightly under exposed dark look. I like that moodiness in my photos, but I don't want all the brights to be completely missing. Sometimes what I'll even do is hit the "Auto" button and just see what the computer thinks those top settings need to be. It'll just set the stuff in that top box. If I like it, I might go ahead and start with that and come back and tweak it. Actually I like those settings for a moment, I'm going to make a little more clarity. I've got a little bit of vibrance in there, I like that. I'm going to go ahead and draw a curve on this. If you want just a basic curve, which will give you some contrast and some lights in the darks, this little basic S curve is the curve that you might consider trying. I like it to be less darks, I like it to be more matte which is very film-isk. If you look up here at our histogram you'll see now in the black area, we have nothing down there, whereas if I pull it down we have the blacks there. You can see as I move that curve up, I am moving the line of where the darkness is. I'm essentially making the darks more of a gray than a black. It's giving us that slight matte feel. You can do that in the brights too, you could come up here and pull down on that top curve there and get rid of the very white and just gives it a very soft film look like it came out of an old film camera or something and I just love that feel. A lot of times I'm trying to recreate that. If I wanted to pop any of these colors and make a certain color saturated I could play in the hue saturation luminance. Or I could play in the color grading if I wanted to slightly adjust the undertone of the color there, I could adjust the highlights or I could adjust the shadows and just get a different feel for it. A lot of times I like to have a slight blue undertone. I'll come over here in a slight blue color to get that in the color grading and actually really like that. We're going to keep that slight blue in the shadows. It's just a vibrant blue that that is, it's just a very slight but it's not in its strongest color tone. It's just a very light tint. Then I'm going to come down here to the detail. Earlier when I looked at it, the detail was over here in the window. If you'll just hit this little box with the cross hatches on it, you can pick what you want to see in that box. Now I can go through and add some sharpening and I can tell exactly how much sharpening I'm adding. Then I can hold down my Option or Alt key and come in here with my masking, because I really only want to sharpen the details. I don't want to sharpen every pixel in the picture, and right now every pixel is being sharpened. Then if I go all the way to the other side, only the white bits are being sharpened. I want to sharpen just what's important and leave it there. Also come down in these photos and add a slight vignette. I want the midpoint to be fairly large, I want it to be round so that it's very, very, very subtle. Then the feathering, I'll play with that because if you don't feather at all that's what you get. I want it to be natural, a darkening coming in from the edges, drawing your edges into my subject. Then once I've got all that said, I may go right back up to the very top and I can now tweak any of these settings that I want to just give a final tweak to. There we go. Look how beautiful that berry setup turned out. I love doing berries and throughout the year there are different types of berries that we can do. We can even go out and pick some holly berries or some wild berries growing at the side of the road if you wanted to. But the berries setups are, in my opinion, some of the easiest to do, because you can buy some and refrigerate them and work on them for days and days and days. They're very photogenic and it's really easy to get different looks depending on the vessel that you use, the fabrics you include, and your backgrounds. One last trick I meant to show you while we were in there. If you do a photo that you love all the settings and you're like, I sure do love that, I wish I didn't have to try to recreate that on all my other stuff. You can either A, create your own custom preset. A lot of times I'll have like say my own folder that says Denise's' custom presets or something like that. Then every time I edit a photo and I think it's amazing and I want to be able to use that again and again and again. I will create a preset and add it to Denise's' this custom preset folder. That's a really nice way to create your own set of custom presets. The other thing that you can do is you can right-click on the photo that you've editing. You can go into Develop Settings and hit "Copy Settings," and then go Copy. I copy everything that I have checked, so I don't copy the exposure and the white balance and stuff like that. Everything I have checked, that's what I create presets by two just the checkboxes. Make note of those and hit "Copy." Then if you'll go to your other photos in that set, say for instance this one. Now I want to go ahead and just very quickly edit this. I can crop it, I can come back over here and hit the Auto button like I did on the original photo, so that I'll change my exposure for me. Then I can right-click on that folder and go back to Develop Settings and hit "Paste Settings." Now it's copied all the settings that I just did and look how beautiful that is, it's gorgeous. I hope that's a fun little trick that you enjoy trying out. I'll see you back in class. 11. Final thoughts: Well, we've got to the end of class, and I can't tell you how excited I've been to have you here learning how to do a berry setup with me. I can't wait to see what photos that you go and set up after taking the different examples that I've shown you, and I'm looking forward to see those. Definitely come back to the class assignment. Do your two photos, your pull back, and your close up, and come share those. I've enjoyed having you in class. Thanks for being here.