The Humble Egg

A walkthrough of how a still life composition of an egg is lit with studio strobes.

The Egg

It’s been a while since I’ve shot anything in the studio outside of film profiles, so I thought I’d spend a couple of hours today and shoot a proper fine art/still life in black and white.

This was shot digitally, however, I also went ahead and shot a number of images on Ilford HP5+ 120 roll film.

This is obviously lit, so as a learning exercise, lets walk through the lighting set up.

I used two lights. The first and most important was the base fill light. I took full advantage of the super reflective white wall behind the camera and turned it into a giant fill light by pointing a Paul Buff White Lightning X1600 strobe at it with an umbrella reflector that throws light 180 degrees. This was metered to f/2.0.

With that done, I then took another Paul Buff White Lightning X1600 strobe, mounted a 36 inch Octo-box on it from LumoPro and placed it camera left. I positioned and rotated it until I had the light feathering right across the background and then metered it to f/8.0.

For the composition, I kept it simple. A basic white egg cup, an egg, and a seamless white paper backdrop from Savage Universal.

Once that was done, I shot it at f/16.0 on a tripod with an APS-C camera and a 50mm prime lens. The camera/lens system make is pretty irrelevant as you can do this with pretty much any camera that has a flash hot shoe and interchangeable lens.

If you want to do almost the same thing on the cheap, you can substitute the real studio strobes with smaller and significantly less expensive portable speed-lights. Put the main light behind a nice big photo umbrella, though you’ll still need a white wall. For the seamless backdrop, you can substitute a white poster board for a significant cost savings, however, it tends to have a shinier almost glossy finish than the matte finish of a real backdrop paper from Savage, so keep that in mind. You may need to use a flag (black foam board) to feather the light on the backdrop.

Enjoy!

Author: Adrian Bacon

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