Greetings and salutations from Quentin Quarantino at Club Lockdown!

I’ve always appreciated still life but never really practised it at a photography level. If you need encouragement may I recommend having a look at the work of Josef Sudek. What this master can do with just an egg and a glass, is outstanding!

Even though many may say that still life is contrived and static. Like a camera sharpness test, you find on DP Review to compare pesky ‘megapixels’. But I rather think not! Especially when light falls and leaves splatters, pools and shadows across the items on a table. Somehow there is philosophy going on, questions of why and how arise from this endless slice in time. I may have been watching just too much of the Twilight Zone! …admittedly I was bingeing. Through a season or two while on lockdown boredom. That may certainly be the reason for this project’s fruition or at least a method to gain an understanding of how the world arrived to this sorry state we currently find ourselves within.

Those magnificent classical pictures of fish draped across well-worn wooden tables or flowers in a vase with the petals that have fallen and now resting on the surface where the light folds across the scene. These are the thoughts and ideas I had in mind or how I imagine the still life theme to be. But back to our living room reality – its freaking lockdown, doom and gloom abound.

Consoling myself that answers were to be revealed in watching all the 80’s episodes of the Twilight Zone.

Motivation is at the bottom of one’s positivity barrel like scrapings of the last remains of the honey jar for your morning’s porridge. Truly that’s how I felt at the time. In no found mood for making photography, no! not I, was my declaration! Consoling myself that answers were to be revealed in watching all the 1980s episodes of the Twilight Zones. Why? because that’s the only thing that makes sense right now. I do believe this to be reasonable behaviour considering our circumstances.

The big C or whatever you wish to call the infamous COVID-19 phenomena, the spiky protein that has thrown the world a giant size spanner in the proverbial works. When life gives you wobbles make lemonade or at least raid the fridge. Other words it was time to move myself from sofa into the direction and the ascension of a tripod. Lights, camera, action! – OK, still life. (Isn’t that what daily living is now – still life, thinking to oneself).

Yashica MAT-124 Fomapan 200 Creative
Yashica MAT-124 Fomapan 200 Creative

My aspirations follow, with a fresh box of black and white FOMA film, the Yashica MAT-124 medium format camera and of course a fridge of full vegetables!

Why do I shoot film? Because it’s in my fridge next to the Parmesan cheese staring back at me! I hear it speak with its creaky voice please expose me gently to light and its glory. Well not really, otherwise I’d be mad. But hey, aren’t we all a little these days?

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I shoot film because of black and white images, when I shot colour it reminds me how great black and white is and vice versa. I do love a good black and white image! I see that way, I express that way. Now to produce still life on film, here goes…

In this video/blog we explore still life photography while in lockdown with the Yashica MAT 124, a medium format camera loaded with Foma Bohemia film. First, the video:

I used a close-up lens on the Yashica to get closer to the subject. Using two LED lights to make a window like scene and adding pools of light. Click/tap the thumbnails below to view the images in full-screen.

I developed the film in ILFORD DDX with my trusty Spinmatic for 6 minutes: an initial 30 seconds of continuous agitation followed by a few agitations then every 10 seconds (the Spinmatic doesn’t do this part!). Fix for 4 minutes with Rapid Fixer, then stop, rinse, etc.

Still life photography, I happen to think, is a great way to concentrate on composition and in some way relieve boredom to some degree.

After all was done, the fruits, the vegetables and the eggs were returned to their rightful places without waste. It was certainly a creative way to find images in every today things. I do hope this inspires you to raid a fridge or a fruit bowl some time soon!

~ Gavin

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About the author

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Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1972, Gavin Lyons is an award-winning landscape and nature photographer who is self-taught. After living in Italy and France for a couple of years, it wasn't until settling in Austria that he became more serious about using a camera....

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  1. Nice article. I’ve had a Yashicamat 124 since 1982. To my my mind it looks better than the subsequent 124G version. Reliability has been pretty good as long as I don’t touch the self timer! Lens is excellent even wide open.