Ståle Vilhelmsen's Still Life Photography with a Makeshift Mini Studio


Norwegian film photographer Ståle Vilhelmsen's (@sierravictor) extensive camera collection piqued our curiosity so much that we had to interview him in 2016. In the interview, he shared with us his long list of cameras and accessories which started with a Nikon FE gifted by his father.

We recently came across his professional-looking photos from his makeshift mini studio taken with the same camera. These photos are reminiscent of early advertising images found in magazines and flyers, before digital cameras took over the industry.

Here's our catch up with Ståle on his current experience with photography and his process for creating his mini studio.

Credits: sierravictor

Hi, Ståle! How have you been since our last interview with you in 2016?

I've been fine thanks, and I've been taking photos every now and then. I made some new plans about what to photograph along the way.

In our last chat with you we mostly talked about your film camera collection. How's your collection going? Have your motivations around it changed over the years?

I have bought some new cameras and parted with some. I could have had 118 cameras but I ended up throwing three cameras in the garbage, gave some away and sold some. (They didn't all work.) So now I'm sitting here with 84 cameras.

One thing I've always wanted to do was to get cameras that used different types of film. In the collection there now are cameras for 10 different film types.

Credits: sierravictor

Did the pandemic change the way you view film photography, or photography in general, in any way?

The pandemic didn't really change the way I view film photography. One of the things I've always liked to do is to document the changes going on where I live, you know, houses being demolished and new ones being built for instance. Some of these houses are very old and some will soon be taken down and gone for ever.

Credits: @sierravictor

We're fascinated by your photos taken in your mini studio. How did this project come about?

I came across some Youtube videos about professional studio photography. I don't remember his name but I've watched the videos of one in particular. He is French and very good at studio photography.

I started thinking about how I could do something similar (in a smaller simpler way).

Can you give us a brief rundown of your process for creating your mini studio?

It's quite easy to make these mini studios. I bought some cardboard boxes of the big(ish) kind that you use when you move home.

Credits: @sierravictor

As you see in image 1, I cut a big opening on the top of the mini studio, painted the endwall matte black and stitched a large piece of black paper to the floor and backwall. That way I got a smooth transition from floor to backwall, which means no hard edges anywhere. With the image 1 studio I used a lamp above it or right in front of it, with ok results.

With the studio in image 2, I cut away the top and sidewalls and stitched a piece of black paper again to the floor and backwall of the studio. That makes it possible to light the objects I'm photographing from top, front, left and right.

For my last studio album I used the studio in image 2. You need a cardboard box, a piece of black paper, a knife or scissors and a stitching machine. The lamps I used for the last album you see in image 3. They can be adjusted in height and angle but not in intensity.

Credits: sierravictor

The studio photography is just for fun. There still is room for improvements. I'm not quite at a professional level yet.

Which cameras and film stocks do you use for taking your mini studio photographs?

For my studio photos I use my late fathers old Nikon FE, Kodak Ektar 100 135-film and a F2.5 90 mm Tamron macro lens. I place the camera on a tripod also and use the timer on the camera.

Credits: sierravictor

Do you have a favorite among your mini studio photos?

I think my favorite studio photo is the wine bottle. It doesn't contain wine by the way, wine is too dark. I put some fruit juice in the bottle and glass. What I did was to put a silver screen in the back, a small table in front of that with two books and a lamp on top of them. I put behind the bottle and glass (which is on a different table), directly behind the paper on the bottle.

Credits: sierravictor

I used black tape on the bulb to control where the light went. The bottle and glass I put onto a sheet of see through plastic that I had painted black on the underside to create a black mirror. So I just used the one lamp.

I'm quite happy with the result but it's possible to do a better job with the lighting. I would have liked some light on the bottom of the bottle too.

Credits: sierravictor

Do you have any advice or tips for people who may be interested in creating a mini studio themselves?

I used some simple, cheap studio lamps in my last studio album but you can go with an office lamp or a reading lamp too, if that's what you have.

Lastly, do you have any photography plans or projects you'd like to share with us?

Right now I'm thinking about driving east of here to a mountain valley to photograph that. It's very beautiful up there.

We'd like to thank Ståle for sharing his work with us! To keep in touch, visit his LomoHome.

written by sylvann on 2023-07-03 #culture #people #places #tutorials #kodak-ektar #scandinavia #nikon-fe #still-life-photography #stale-vilhelmsen #sierravictor #mini-studio

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  1. klawe
    klawe ·

    Nice idea, and a good sleeping place for our cat too 😻

  2. mlchaelbexley
    mlchaelbexley ·

    @klawe 😸

  3. sierravictor
    sierravictor ·

    @klawe @mlchaelbexley Glad you had a look at the article, thanks.😊

  4. klawe
    klawe ·

    @sierravictor Had have a look to the Pentax Auto 110 again! 😍

  5. sierravictor
    sierravictor ·

    @klawe You should buy one. It's very small and fun to use.

  6. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    Awesome 👍 it's so funny I recently read 90s photo magazine and there is one tipster which similar like this, using a colorful paper to made a gradation background of a still life photo

  7. klawe
    klawe ·

    @sierravictor Good idea, I'll buy one with flash, winder and standard lens. Maybe the Pentax is a good replacement for my broken Minolta 110 zoom SLR.

  8. sierravictor
    sierravictor ·

    @hervinsyah There's a little trick with coloured paper half way covering the back of a glass, two colours. It can give a nice effect. Maybe something for me later, or even taking some B/W-photos in my ministudios. We'll see.

  9. leisuresuit
    leisuresuit ·


  10. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    @sierravictor oh thabks for adding the tipster 👍 O had lot of idea of snap still life but the price of film in Indonesia now are really sick 😭

  11. sierravictor
    sierravictor ·

    @klawe One thing about the standard lens, the 24mm, is that it fits nicely into a filmbox. The lid on a Kodak-filmbox also can double as a lenscap on it, it's a perfect fit.

  12. klawe
    klawe ·

    @sierravictor Thanks for the info, the first lens I wish is the 18mm lens...

  13. lomodesbro
    lomodesbro ·

    Amazing creativity, you are a legend

  14. sierravictor
    sierravictor ·

    @lomodesbro You're very kind Des, thanks.

  15. anttihoo
    anttihoo ·

    Love the timeless retro vibe... Very cool!

  16. sierravictor
    sierravictor ·

    @anttihoo Thanks! Could be fun to do some B/W-studio photos as well some day. I don't know of what but maybe?

  17. anttihoo
    anttihoo ·

    @sierravictor Something with interesting textures, perhaps? Wood, stone, fabrics... Rough and detailed surfaces could look great in b/w with well-controlled light.

  18. sierravictor
    sierravictor ·

    @anttihoo Interesting ideas. Will keep it in the back of my head.

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