Woodland Tea

Tea in the Woods

This is an image for my very first promo book; I’m hoping to send it out by the end of January. Eighteen images, all of them food and product shots with an Oregonian—you might even say Cascadian—twist.

Behind the Scenes: Woodland Tea

Behind the Scenes: Woodland Tea

It was quite the scene in the studio, hauling buckets of redwood duff from the backyard through the house. Of course it was raining, so the redwood branches were appropriately wet. Met a couple of hitchhiking bugs, too—I hope they appreciated their new warm shelter.

The Power of Focus

Spicy Coppa on Butcher Paper — “normal” shot at f/11, with a Nikon 105mm macro lens

I've been focus-stacking recently and really enjoying the resulting clarity. Over and above providing more visual detail, focus-stacked photographs have a completely different emotional tone than photographs in which the background is allowed to go soft.

This difference really jumped out at me in this recent shot of slices of spicy coppa (thank you, Marché Provisions) on butcher paper.

I don't dislike the out-of-focus background--not at all. It just feels like it was shot in a whole different world. A photo that goes soft feels a little sentimental, maybe, while the focus-stacked imaged is arguably more dramatic.

Spicy Coppa on Butcher Paper - the final focus-stacked image, 22 separate photographs

Big Chocolate

Chunks of Callebaut milk chocolate block

White chocolate with chocolate fork

Three chocolates: White, Milk, and Dark

One Whiskey, Four Ways

Tincup Whiskey photographed on brass background

Tincup Whiskey photographed on copper sheet

Tincup whiskey bottle photographed on old sheet metal

Tincup whiskey bottle photographed on black background

Words About Pictures

My mentor and photography coach extraordinaire Don Giannatti has given his new students the assignment of writing a vision statement for their work.

I'm not in that group--I'm an old student--but I'm playing along anyway.

It's hard. I get trapped between poetic words and their literal meanings.

For example, I started off writing something about distilling a strong liquor of emotions out of an image, a scene, a set, a view. But then I looked up the actual definition of distilling, and it turned out to mean vaporizing and separating. 

Not what I had in mind.

I really mean something more like reducing a sauce: If you cook, you know that simmering intensifies and concentrates the flavors of a liquid.

I love that. But saying I'm trying to reduce images to emotions just doesn't have the right poetic ring to it.

Now that I've been working with perfume, I think I might find a good analogy there. A strong image is very much like a well-constructed fragrance: The notes of a perfume elicit memories, desires, and feelings, all by relying on associations and sensual responses--a kind of instinctual code, more powerful than language, even.