Sometimes I cannot get outside in a location that will allow me to take interesting photographs or the weather just won’t allow it. But, I still want to use my camera to take photographs so I’ll try setting up a still life of some sort. At one point, I read about light box photography and saw some beautiful flower images that a photographer, who teaches the technique, had taken. I had the pleasure of attending a weekend seminar in late fall of 2017 where someone demonstrated this technique. The technique is not about putting an item in a three-sided light box to get a commercial photo, but instead about using a flat light box where the subject is laid directly onto the flat light box to create a work of art. The technique does require that you use a processing program after taking the shots to obtain the best possible effect. It also helps to use a macro lens to get close enough to have the image fill the frame and a tripod is required as you set the camera on the tripod and shoot down onto the light box and subject. Light box photography is a productive way to keep photographing through harsh winter months or when you just can’t get outside in the right location to take photographs.
First Attempt; Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm, ISO 100, 8.0 sec at f/8.0. Used f/8 to see how that aperture would work out for this shot, which was pretty much filled up with leaves and probably needed a higher number aperture setting but I still like how it turned out. I also added a pinkish background to the shot when the processing was completed. Shot in aperture priority mode in natural and added light.
Click for an enlargement
There is more to the technique, however, than just equipment. You do need to have an eye for putting together a scene of sorts in some way that is pleasing to the eye. Light box photography is actually just a flat still life scene that is back-lit, so some experience in setting up still life scenes is helpful to the process. As usual, composition is the key to a successful photograph: it’s just hard to get away from that no matter what type of photography you do. Also, if you like to photograph flowers, which I do, having some knowledge about correctly arranging flowers would be very helpful in creating a successful layout of the flowers. I have not studied flower arrangement nor have I done a great number of still life photos, but I do know about composition and color to some degree and I relied on this knowledge to get something that pleased me and hopefully pleased others when they viewed the end result. I am, of course, still working on how to get each subject correctly arranged on the light box each time I do light box photography as each time the subject and the setup are different. You can also use textured backgrounds and borders to dress up the piece once done with the processing.
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