'Tribal Wasteland' - Building a Still Life Image
Tribal Wasteland

Tribal Wasteland

When you have the right props at hand it is easy to create interesting and powerful Still Life compositions

'Tribal Wasteland’ is one of my earliest photos, that I shot in 2015. The concept was simply, ‘take a wooden tribal looking doll, from a local charity shop, buy a few skulls from a gift shop, and have some fun!’

What stands out for me in this photo is the perceived horizon, from the foreground to the red sky on the right side of the photo and the shadows on the rocks.

In ‘Tribal Wasteland’ terms the sky look far off into the distance, but in actuality it was about 60cm, which was where the silhouetted rocks actually were in relation to the camera. It is the low angle perspective that gives the perception of distance. The long oblong rock is actually much larger than the skull in the foreground.

I particularly like the silhouetted rocks in front of the fiery sky as they add depth and atmosphere to the photo. Also, the shadows that contour the rocks behind the tribal figure add depth and texture to the rocks. The shadows that fall off the tiny rocks and skull toward the foreground give an effect of the moon lighting them and casting shadows off camera, when in fact in was the grid spot strobe lighting situated left of the camera.

Putting all these elements together is a case of using composition techniques and having a knowledge of landscape photography.  Where to place individual items, such as a skull, a rock, would not be achievable without tethering the camera to the computer, so that, in Live View, I can see exactly where each item works best in the frame, all in real time.

As well as the sky, in post processing I added a painterly effect to create an artful/cartoonish look to the image , otherwise all the items would simply look like gifts from charity shops.

It is amazing what Still Life images can be created with inexpensive items from local shops. If you haven't tried it, then I urge you to.