Assignment 5: Still Life


Zhenghao Chen


Requirement 1: Background
Requirement 2: Lighting
Requirement 4: A Themed Collection

The theme for this collection is vanity. The items collected here are a jewelry box with pearls, a pendant, 2 pairs of earings, a compact mirror and an embroidered purse (in the box). Items typically associate with feminine vanity. After the lecture I was interested in incorporating diagonal lines and playing with color.

I chose a silk scarf as the background because it was also related to the theme and especially because I liked the added complexity the designs on the scarf added to the scene. I knew I wanted a color scheme of red and black but I switched from a black persian rug to this plain black background because I wanted to contrast the excess of details of the top with something plain and simple at the bottom. Using a bottom with its own design just made the photo too over-cluttered with detail.

The first few photos I took were too boring and flat because the background was rather 2-dimensional, so I raised the center of the scene with a book and added some ripples to the red scarf. I found that this gave it an interesting shadow when illuminated from the side. I also wanted the top lighting to be warmer and more yellow than the bottom and so I got a yellow table lamp and angled it upwards while leaving the bottom illuminated by my normal white light.

After that, I realized that the photo was too imbalanced, with too much color and detail on top, so I added a large pair of red earrings with an intricate design to counter-balance the scene. The reflection of the mirror was troublesome, and I got an idea to get a female friend to pose so that her face could be seen as a reflection in the mirror, further fitting the theme of vanity. I took a few more shots but realize that her face was too dark so I got another lamp to illuminate her face.

I had to use a pretty large aperture (3.6) because there wasn't enough light, however, I needed enough depth of field to get everything in focus and hence I couldn't go down any further, in the end, I needed an exposure time of 1/3s and it took a few tries before I could get a nice stable shot of the setup. The large earrings were slightly overexposed and were slightly darkened in photoshop.

I chose this photo to submit also because I particularly liked the expression on my friend's face in the mirror and the little detail of being able to see the reflection of the pearl earrings hanging on the box in the mirror as well. I also liked the texture of the scarf as a background and the juxtaposition with the plain featureless black bottom half.

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