Beth – Sometimes simple objects make the most beautiful photos. When Bette placed these ingredients and props onto the wood table, I responded to the simplicity of the shapes, color and textures.
Beth – Dark objects are always difficult to light. These mussels were particularly challenging because of the white barnacles and streaks on their shell. The more I brightened the exposure, the more blown out these white areas became.
When faced with these types of objects I find the larger, broader and softer the light the better. I pulled the strobe head far from the V flat I was bouncing light into to create this type of light.
Normally I would use a white bounce card on the right to open up the shadows but found it flattened out the shape and dimension of these mussels quickly because of their reflective quality. My solution was to add a small amount of fill, enough to give dimension to the shells furthest away from the light while allowing some to go black in the shadows. It maintained the feeling and look I was hoping for in this photo.
Beth – Our blog is a labor of love done around our work schedule and responsibilities to our families and friends. Bette was crazy busy so we decided to invite Kira Corbin to our shoot to style the next two blog postings. Below she writes about her passion for props and what she considers and thinks about when styling for a photograph. We loved her point of view and collaborating on all these images. If you want to see more of her work go to http://kiracorbin.com/
Kira – For this story, and all of the lovely work the ladies are doing here on OST, the focus is on the ingredients, so that was my starting point for propping. On the one hand I consider how to represent them well graphically, in terms of shape and color, and on the other in mood and spirit. Green garlic is a spring time treat, the newly born garlic plant shooting up, and the mussels are briny, tender and highly perishable. Freshness and the fleeting feeling of spring are themes here.
To use only white, for the clean, fresh aspect of spring, was an option. But I found some inspiration in the idea that sometimes introducing an opposing color, some sharp contrast, is what will help the eye see the difference, and see each color more clearly. If all of the props in this shot had been white, the food would still certainly pop, but you might loose the impact of the white. That fresh feeling of the white. It might have just all melt away, too neutral. And though food is the star, the props are there to create connotation, environment, mood. Additionally, the introduction of some black and green props merges all of the ingredients together, bridging their aesthetic differences and creating visual cohesiveness, very much how the recipe melds each individual flavor into a unified (delicious!) expression.
Beth – Last summer I had the luck of meeting the owners Natalie and Steven Judelson of the Amagansett Sea Salt Co. amagansettseasalt.com. We were renting a house in Amagansett for a week and friends who were visiting suggested we take a look at their operation. Little did I know that we would drive down a dirt road next to a cornfield, to find row after row of wooden structures with black plastic buckets covered with plastic domes set up in a field. Of course I came prepared with a camera albeit a point and shoot and took these photos while we were there.
Natalie and Steven graciously poured us glasses of Prosecco and explained the process of making salt from the Atlantic Ocean just down the block. Natalie provided us with snacks so we could taste the different salts and explained her process for making the merlot salt used in our posting. I highly suggest that to learn about how they make their salt you watch this video where Natalie and Steven explain the process. Amagansettseasalt_vimeo
Beth – When I first started out in my career, I had the luck to work with Elizabeth Alston, Food Editor at Redbook Magazine. She taught me a lot about photographing food both in the studio and on location. It was from her that I learned the technique of shooting food close-up when it was not particularly interesting or appetizing. From afar, these sweet potato cubes were not very interesting but up close, utilizing the shallow depth of field of the lens, they take on a totally different and interesting dynamic.
We wanted this image to be representational of the ingredients in this dish in a simple and graphic way.
We thought a white surface, light wood cutting board and each ingredient represented simply would accomplish this.
Beth – I have a particular affinity to the roots and tubers from plants. Whether they are craggily and dirty or smooth and curvy, for me, I find them so expressive and interesting. These two images represent different ways of exploring them. One in a botanical way from above, the other up close so that you can see the thin paper of the shallot.
Beth - Sometimes when shooting simple elements such as these, I find that getting close to the subject makes the photo more interesting. I wanted to show the texture and curls of the cinnamon as well as the crystals of sugar. Using my Canon 5D with a close up lens helped me accomplished this idea. It was the same with the eggs- I loved the subtle texture on the top of the center egg as well as the cropped shape of the bowl and paper. I felt it made it a stronger image compositionally cropped. Showing the maple sugar powder with the jar of syrup was the most challenging because of the height difference of these objects. The texture of the powder held my interest the most so I decided to focus on that and make the syrup an afterthought showing the base of the jar with the drips scattered on the paper.
Beth – We shot this bean shot 2 ways beginning with the obvious approach of shooting it in a rustic setting with a wood surface and tin spoons and bowls. Once we finished the shot, Bette became inspired to shoot it once again but all on white. The goal was to look at beans in a different way, unlike what is expected.
When creating a photo, we are always looking at how best to improve the image. Many times we have spent a good hour on an image only to take it apart and go in a different direction. There are even images that never see the light of day. It’s all part of the creative process of making a photograph.
Beth – When we went to the farmers market there were a host of various types of kale. I wanted to show them in all their simplicity, which is why I chose one beautiful leaf of each type. I thought the contrast between the weathered white and dark green of the leaves worked really well.
The kale in this photo is: dinosaur kale-curled leaves with a lot of texture, curly kale- common and sweet, and Siberian kale- my favorite for my morning shake, sweet and tender.