Behind the Scenes - Start where you are, use what you have

"The Bronte Sisters" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Thurmont, MD. Preparing for my trip to Haworth in several months. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte's birthday.    What better way to celebrate than to trek the moors on a photography adventure?

"The Bronte Sisters" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Thurmont, MD. Preparing for my trip to Haworth in several months. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte's birthday.    What better way to celebrate than to trek the moors on a photography adventure?

Start where you are...

Constructing a still life image in your own home is easier than you might think.  The odds are ever in your favor that you have most every item right in your own home.

And that includes light.  The windows of your house present your best lighting options.  Spend a few days tracking the light through your house.  Where and when does it hit sharply against the walls?  Where and when does it fall into soft shadows?

Remember,  VerMeer made a career out of one window and a wall.

This kitchen wall (below) holds the whiteboard with all our important appointments and information pinned to it.  (Ha! The original pinterest!)  Definitely "starting where I am."

The light comes in from the left through a large window. You can see the light reflected in the vase in the second photo below. The stainless steel refrigerator to the right (not visible in this image) serves as a dark reflector. Notice how the light moves into shadow?

This is my starting point. The light through the glass door is actually the "fall-off" from full morning sun, about 9:00 a.m. “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart!" Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

This is my starting point. The light through the glass door is actually the "fall-off" from full morning sun, about 9:00 a.m.

“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart!" Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Step 1 - What is your influence?

Decide your topic, your interest and build your idea of the still life.  This particular still life is inspired by literature and a photographic opportunity. Your still life could be inspired simply by a collection of items you have on hand.  There really are no rules about what can or can not be included in a still life. (Remember all those dead critters in Renaissance paintings? Not my choice, but you get the idea.)

I have the good fortune that later this year, I will travel to Haworth, England for a photography workshop with Carolyn Mendelsohn.  Haworth was the home of the Bronte sisters and is the place of those rolling moors described in "Wuthering Heights".  I can not wait to tread those moors in whatever mists may rise and to create new images.

And, in preparation for my trip I am immersing myself in the writings of the Bronte Sisters, Emily and Charlotte.  (It's been difficult to find the writings of Anne Bronte.)

The whiteboard has been taken down and set aside. The props are gathered.  The flowers were the only purchase for these images.  Everything else was occupying space around the house. You can see the reflections from sunlight on the vase. "I would always be happy rather than dignified". Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

The whiteboard has been taken down and set aside. The props are gathered.  The flowers were the only purchase for these images.  Everything else was occupying space around the house. You can see the reflections from sunlight on the vase.

"I would always be happy rather than dignified". Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Step 2 - Use what you have

I purchased the sweetheart roses and white carnations from the local florist. The black lacquer vase brings back memories of an earlier trip to Myanmar. (Oh God, I love that country!)

The doily was found in a local antique shop. (If you're really ambitious, you can crochet your own!) The demiluna table was a very inexpensive purchase from times past. It finds most use during exhibitions.

Step 3 - Experiment with structure, placement, light and focus

"Bronte Sisters Collage" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Thurmont, MD “I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind." Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

"Bronte Sisters Collage" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Thurmont, MD

“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind." Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Step 4 - Let your experiments be playful

"Rapidly, merrily,

Life's sunny hours flit by,

Gratefully, cheerily

Enjoy them as they fly!"  - Charlotte Bronte, Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell

Yes, let your creativity fill your days with merriment, gratitude and good cheer!  Fill your soul and your heart with the beauty that moves you. Surprise yourself with the unexpected - created from your own hands.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Have fun!

Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.

Rebecca

What are your favorite still life objects? What inspires you to create a still life? Do you have a favorite still life artist?  I look forward to reading about your own still life adventures.  Share your comments in the section below or over on the Facebook page.

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