For this week’s photo I decided to finally get myself taking some pictures in my little home-studio. I bought a white backdrop for my room divider to tie to my black one, so now I have two backdrop possibilities. Thank you mom for helping to sew the velcro pieces to each of them. Then I went and took a picture that needs neither of them!
One of the themes that I’ve decided to explore during this project is to emulate some of the great masters of photography, such as Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Annie Liebovitz, Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, etc. etc., you get the idea. This week I chose to try an Edward Weston classic, Pepper No. 30. Here is the original
It was tricky finding the right background/setting (not to mention a pepper as interesting as the one he used). After some research, I discovered that Weston had placed his pepper in a tin funnel, which is how he got the nice dark background and was able to light the pepper from the top. I tried a variety of things, like a salad bowl with paper taped inside, a wooden platter I have, a rolled up camping mattress, and none of them resulted in the right look. A trip to the hardware store was in order.
After wandering the shop for 20 or 30 minutes, I finally spotted something that could be useful: a traffic cone. Quite a bit of testing and trial and error ensued. There was some duct-taping (to get rid of the orange of the cone and provide a little texture), hack-sawing (chopping the section above the pepper so that my light could hit the top of the peppers – Weston’s funnel was I think less pointy so the top would have been more open to the light), tying of white reflective papers to the opening of the funnel, and ultimately photoshopping. Here are my results. The first is a green pepper, the second a yellow, and the third a red.
Obviously not as good as the original, but I’m no Edward Weston. Here is a picture of my setup.
What I’ve learned from this is the attention to detail that must have gone into creating the original. It would have taken so long to go through the process of getting it just right with film. And even the masters weren’t above improvising with random equipment for their most famous shots…a tin funnel!? I wasn’t expecting that.