Fort Christmas Still Life Practice

I went back out to the Fort Christmas Historical Park recently with fellow Photography Interest Group member Tom M. I’ve written about this place before (here, here. and here).   There are 7 restored cabins, each with several rooms arranged to show life in the 1870s through the 1930s.  It’s a wonderful place to practice still life photography.

Some examples:

Kitchen table still life
Kitchen table

Edison's iPod Still Life
Edison’s iPod 

Cobbler Still Life

Cobbler’s bench – That shoe needs a little work, probably more than just a new Safeheel.

You can find out more about still life in this Wikipedia article.  Normally, one of the creative aspects of still life is choosing and arranging the subject matter.  That’s already done for you in the Fort Christmas exhibits.  You’ll have to be content with using your point of view, focal length, and lighting to create pleasing compositions.

A zoom lens with a wide to normal range is very useful.  Many times you’ll be limited in where you can place your tripod, so the zoom will come in handy.  My 24-120mm f/4 lens worked well.

The lighting here is a challenge:

  • It’s dim inside the rooms, so bring your tripod.  And bring along a flash or two to give you some flexibility to add to the ambient illumination.
  • In addition to being dim, the lighting will also be mixed.  There are incandescent bulbs in the rooms and sunlight coming in through the doors and windows.  If you use a flash, you’ll add a third variable.  You can try to gel your flash, or use the flashes to overcome one or more of the other light sources.  Or you can do as I did and deal with it in post processing by using selective color balance to address any local color casts.  (For more on how I do this, see this post.)
  • You’ll also need to watch out for dynamic range.  The doors and windows will be very bright compared to the room interiors and it’s often difficult to eliminate them from compositions.  I bracketed my exposures and hand merged the appropriate ones to address this.  You can also try using HDR software.

I used some different post processing techniques to emphasize the subject colors and the lighting and I like the way they turned out.  Still Life Photography at Fort Christmas is a fun and challenging photo-op.  If you haven’t been, give it a try.  You can see other photos I’ve made at Fort Christmas in this set on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some still life photos!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

About Ed Rosack

I live in Central Florida and enjoy exploring the area. I'm interested in nature and wildlife photography - and many other things. I'm the chief reporter, lead writer, managing editor, main photographer, and publisher of the Central Florida Photo Ops website hosted at www.edrosack.com. You can also see more of my photos on my Flickr stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/

6 thoughts on “Fort Christmas Still Life Practice

  1. Thank you again for all your helpful information. You really could make a book out your post. Can not thank you enough. Hope to get over to the wetlands soon and then to Fort Christmas. 🙂

    1. Thanks Jeff.

      I didn’t use any HDR software for these. Instead, I brought two exposures into Photoshop on separate layers and masked them together. It takes longer, but gives a lot more control over the process.

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