Still Life with Pinecones

A study in texture . . .



I think pinecones are gorgeous and intriguing with all their layers and woodiness and secret dark places. For this shoot I figured out my lighting and background textures fairly quickly, while composition was a struggle.

Since my last still life was dark and moody, I wanted a lighter feel for this one—though not necessarily bright and cheerful. I started off with a piece of pine board that has a light whitewash. Too light and not textured enough. The wall behind is white that has been allowed to fall to grey.


You’d think pine board would harmonize nicely with pinecones, but it seemed a bit bland. So I pulled out this old table leaf that had been left outside for who knows how many years—it had been left behind by our home’s former owners, and I had asked my husband not to take it to the dump. It has a very nice weathered texture with lots of lines because it is composed of many small long pieces.


Tried out a brown fabric background and liked the darkness it introduced:


This was the lighting setup I settled on. I thought side lighting would add some nice texture, and then I wanted some fill from the opposite side to help fill up some of those nooks and crannies in the pinecones. I added the scrim to soften the light even further. (I like soft light!)


I’m not quite satisfied with this study—I plan to continue experimenting some different lenses (I used a 105mm for all of these) and compositions.