Behind The Scenes: Still Life

Last month I was lucky enough to win a social media competition through The Photography Show. It was one of those, “subscribe and like this post on Twitter” deals and I ended up winning a paper backdrop from Creativity Backgrounds (you can also find them on Facebook & Twitter @cibackdrops) in a colour of my choice.

I found their website was easy enough to use and their prices reasonable, a 1.35 metre wide by 11 meter long roll (4’5″ x 36ft), 140 gsm is £26+VAT and delivery. They also do an offer where when you buy 3 rolls and you get a 4th roll free. If I need to buy backdrops in the future I will defiantly go to them first. The colour choices are all marked with their CMYK equivalents so it’s really easy to look up the closest Pantone; ensuring you really understand the colour you are purchasing. As we photographers all know too well, the colour represented by our screen and the colour in real life can be very different! I chose Silver Birch which is a soft grey with undertones of purple.

Now being new to using back drops I don’t have a background stand/support system. Creativity Background do stock one on their website but at £170+VAT it was too steep an investment to make straight away. I had no idea how I would get on with the product and, at the moment, I am not making money from my photography. Initially I thought I would  use a clothes runner rail. The one I had in the house was too short, so I improvised with some Ikea shelves, a stack of magazines and my linen basket!

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Again you might notice I don’t have any studio lighting… so I improvised with a floor standing desk lamp! And there’s no way I can afford an assistant; so the cat stepped in 😉 The set up was a bit of a faff so I would recommend buying a portable background stand if you are going to be using backgrounds regularly as I can imagine using one to be so much easier. And it’s a must if you are shooting with models as you will need a secure system that is taller than your model!

After some arranging, re-arranging, adding and taking away props; here is the resulting image.

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© Katherine Broadbent

This image is pretty much as was captured in camera. I made a couple of adjustments to the white balance and removed a couple of marks in post process. The blur/bokeh is down to my Helios 44-2 58mm lens. A brilliant, and very popular, vintage lens that creates lovely soft, swirly bokeh. I picked mine up on ebay for about £35 and the adaptor ring was about £5. My camera body was of course my trusty Nikon D300s. No longer available new, sadly, but it has been recently replaced by the D500. Which I’m not lusting after, after seeing it at The Photography Show 2016… honest 😉 Okay maybe just a little bit!

With the backdrop I really loved how it reflected and reacted to the different light levels creating a variety of tones across the image. As it’s 11 meters long I didn’t have to worry if I marked or damaged it as you can just cuff off any damage and still have plenty left to play with.

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© Katherine Broadbent

This second edit was created using the Mextures App, I emailed the image to my iPhone and added the textures and filters. It’s a really cool app and I have a review coming soon.

Initially I had the idea that I wanted to incorporate vintage glass in the composition. With that in mind I went hunting for items of different heights, colours and texture that would compliment the theme and the colour of the backdrop. All the props I picked up from car boot sales, charity shops and generic home wear stores. The flowers were just from a local supermarket.The cheapest props were 50p and the most expensive £5.99 and all of them will be used around my home and in future compositions.

This image was created for my Aunt’s Birthday.

I will add that none of the companies mentioned asked me to write a post, mention their business name or link to their website/s. I was just incredibly grateful for the opportunity to try something new and equally impressed with the products.

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