Geri's Note: Peter Bryenton has become a friend that I may never meet! We became acquainted through our mutual love of mobile photography. We often exchange email tips so I thought it only fitting to invite Peter to share some of his advice to a wider audience.
Make Your Own Simple Still Life Set-up by Peter Bryenton
My view of photography with smartphones is taken from a perspective of looking back on a long and happy career working in studios and darkrooms equipped with the very best that money can buy.
I've learned a lot about lighting set-ups. I am still learning. Recently I've been thinking about ways to help mobile art photographers to explore lighting, to help them to learn to see how light and shade can be used as tools for making pictures. My aim was to create mini-tutorials, where one image showed the whole thing. I also wanted to use as few words as possible, for two reasons. One is that when we make pictures, we use parts of our eye-brain systems where words don't exist. The other is that the Internet teaches me that English is not everyone's first language.
When you look at light, consider also the shadows. Start to think about tonal values; shadows may be pale or dark. And what do the edges of the shadows look like? Are they sharp and distinct, with definite edges, or are they blurred and unclear, with soft, smooth boundaries?
The simple, low-cost set-up shown here can be used indoors, in daylight, on bright, sunny days, or on dull, rainy days. The position and size of the window will determine the light and shade. Try different points of view. Shoot at different times. figure out the angles. Investigate. Experiment. Compare your results.
I believe that learning to understand light and shade is absolutely fundamental to your journey as a photographic artist. I hope you will have lots of fun along the way. I did. I still do.
Peter Bryenton - I've played with light and lenses ever since I was a small boy. Light and the way it behaves fascinates, surprises and delights me so much that I've chosen to be a photographer for over 50 years.
My life-long passion for photography has earned me professional qualifications. I studied the subject in depth for three years Art College, where I was a technically competent but artistically impoverished student, outshone by some really talented people. I hadn't then discovered the artist within me. But my love of the medium gained me entry to jobs in print labs, darkrooms and studios. It furthered a completely absorbing career in BBC Television (specialising in lighting). It rewarded me with a gold medal for portraiture from the Photographic Association of Great Britain. It produced a winner in a Kodak Print Salon and, above everything else, photography has always provided me with a reliable focus (literally) for that essential balance in life between work and play. My most rewarding and successful recent photographic challenge has been teaching photography to blind children, but that's another story.
As a boy I used to read classic Science Fiction stories about heroes who used handheld communications devices. Now, that old fiction has become fact, and I think smartphones are unbelievably brilliant picture-making tools. I am in constant awe of the latest technology, where mobile devices and low-cost apps offer photographic artists seemingly endless opportunities to make pictures. I can't wait to see what's next.