27/365: Light Peppering27/365: A Light Peppering.

Hehe. "Peppered." Always makes me think of Dick Cheney blasting that guy with a shotgun. They said Cheney just 'peppered' him. That sure is a nice way of saying he shot him in heart. I digress. Tonight's shot is another from the archives, back in the season of our bountiful garden. I had this pepper sitting on the table for a week, but before I finally cut him up and cooked him in olive oil with garlic, I decided to channel my inner Weston. Read more, and see some variations...

Edward Weston is celebrated as one of the great photographers of the 20th century, a real pioneer. You have probably seen his famous 'Pepper #30,' which has always been one of my favorite studies in organic form. Apparently, he took a lot of pictures of his peppers, this one in particular, to get the right play of light across the voluptuous body. He often used long (hours long) exposures and small apertures to capture the sunlight as it moved through the room and across the pepper over time. The sun usually makes for a pretty harsh light source (think hard shadows at noon) but if you can capture its path across the sky in one exposure, it effectively becomes a much larger source of light relative to the subject, and the shadows soften and the form reveals itself in subtle gradients.

I tried something different. Painting with light is the technique of using a constant light source to 'paint' in the exposure. Like last night's multi-strobic shot, it requires a long shutter, and therefore a tripod and little or no light to interfere with your 'paintbrush.' Mine was a mini maglite. In order to restrict the amount of light and narrow the beam, I used black gaffer's tape to form a tight cone around the business end of the flashlight (torch to you Brits), so that only a small hole at the tip allowed the light thru. I had a nice little light source, but with a 97 sec exposure, I had time to feather the light around the entire frame and essentially record the tiny light as a large source. I tried various directions of light, sometimes multiple directions in a single frame, sometimes aiming at the pepper, sometimes trying to hit only the cutting board.  When painting with light, you have to keep the light moving, feathering it around, or it will create hotspots in the exposure wherever it stays in one place too long. Of the many shots I tried, I like these three the best. My personal favorite is this one below, which is less eye-catching, but I just love the texture of the bamboo cutting board. Which one you you prefer? Sound out in the comments.

27b/365: Light Peppering

27c/365: Light Peppering