Review – The Better Picture Guide To Still Life And Close Up Photography

Buselle, M; 1999; The Better Picture Guide To Still Life And Close Up Photography; Crans-Pres-Celigny; RotoVision

Buselle is a film photographer and throughout the book he provides technical details about each presented photo – lens, filter, camera format and type of film. I can relate to lens, filter and camera format, however, the type of film I Kodachrome, Velvia is new to me, but fascinating none the less. My assumption is that the type of film (not its speed) combined with the filter works together in the way white balance does in digital photography. Film speed and ISO are the same.

The book covers different aspects of still life that includes the natural environment, food, flowers and plants, macro, and staged photos.

I found the sections that discuss lighting of huge benefit, especially as there are the occasional lighting plans that have been included as diagrams. It’s easy for me to lose some detail in photography because I have a personal preference for high contrast, but I can see how Busselle’s use of lighting and reflectors eases back the shadows and permits more detail to be seen.

Key learning points

  • Minimise colours where possible and appropriate to do so
  • Use a background which has a complimentary colour and texture
  • If you can’t find a suitable background then make one
  • If a multitude of colours are present i.e. a market stall then use a large aperture to reduce distractions and emphasise the colours
  • Take time to consider what it is you’re trying to present (he gives a pictorial example of the front of a wooden boat, it’s lettering and the reflection. Using the whole boat would be a chocolate box picture, whereas a tight crop emphasises the lettering on the wood and in the water)
  • Warm up filters (white balance set to shade) enable the photographer to make use of the sun and reduce the blues
  • Composition can make or break a still life, reduce subjects and props to a bare minimum, and introduce additional items with caution. Compliment the subject, don’t detract from it
  • Any subject can be turned into still life or macro. Move items around, change your position and the angle of the lens, experiment
  • Aperture, aperture, aperture. Match the aperture to the subject and the background, avoid distraction, enhance and compliment

3 Replies to “Review – The Better Picture Guide To Still Life And Close Up Photography”

  1. Sounds like an interesting read Richard, lighting is something I am really interested in.
    Regarding the film types different films have different characteristics. For example Fuji Velvia 50 (ISO 50) was, or maybe still is, a favourite with landscape photographers because of its fine grain and saturated colours.
    Different films give different renditions, if I remember correctly this is to do with the chemicals they coat the film emulsion with to make the silver -halide grains sensitive to different wavelengths of light.
    Fuji offer these film simulations in their digital cameras for jpeg images, so you can have Velvia, Provia, Astia etc. you can also apply these profiles to the RAW image in post processing which is what I do as a starting point, I then fine tune the image to my taste.
    Thanks for the review and sharing your key learning points, I think I will have a look at this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the information regarding the types of film and their effects. I am becoming more interested in film photography, although not right for me just yet. It must be interesting to have those options with your Fuji.

      Liked by 1 person

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