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Self Reflection #1: Kuri Pumpkin

Two impulses have been driving my photography lately: a growing interest in black-and-white photography and a need to continue taking photographs despite being in lockdown. It's easy enough to implement the technical needs for black-and-white photography. I can either load a film camera with black-and-white film or use a black-and-white digital workflow. It's been much harder to pick out subjects to shoot from what's around the household. So when a pumpkin arrived with the week's groceries, I decided to give fruits and veggies a try.

On a Sunday morning, I put together a mini-studio set up. I moved my kitchen table nearer to the living room windows, which provided soft and even light. Plenty of fog to act as a natural diffuser. I wanted to create an image that accentuated the shoulders and texture of the pumpkin. Our kitchen table is white, and I tried a high-angle set up that didn't seem very successful. I liked the idea of using the combination of back-lighting and a dark background as a way to define the shape of the pumpkin. So I went ahead and dropped a black cloth down onto the table. I began to shoot and tried to imitate Edward Weston's famous photographs of peppers. Fruits and veggies need not be boring, after all.

I was shooting raw files with my Fuji X-T3. I used the somewhat odd 60mm f/2.4 macro lens because I needed to fill my frame with the small pumpkin. To keep my platform stable, I clamped my camera onto a tripod and released the shutter on a two-second delay.

For my interpretation, I didn't let the highlights get very bright in post. I really like the heavy darks in the background, but did not want to overwhelm the image with bright whites. The harsh contrast would be glaring, and the silvery highlights get ample attention because of the sudden juxtaposition with the blacks of the background.

I think the photo is fairly successful on its own terms, but I'm not quite convinced by the main body of the pumpkin. I settled on a deep gray that is distinct from the blacks but still fairly heavy. That way, the main part of the pumpkin would have its own distinct tone in the image. Since I worked on the image, I've thought about giving the main pumpkin a little more depth by deepening some of the stripes on the pumpkin. Nevertheless I like the general shape created by the lighter parts on the pumpkin's edges. It's a shape that reminds me of wings closing.

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you about this or any of the self reflections I may publish in the future. My goal is to use this series as a way to chart my development and hopefully spur some new ideas. And if you'd ever like to send in criticism (especially negative criticism), I'd be happy to publish it. It only needs to be interesting.

P.S. No pumpkin was harmed during the photo shoot. The subject of this photograph was, however, chopped up and eaten immediately afterwards.

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Oct 11, 2020

Enjoyed reading your post. I liked your discussion of your thought process in setting it up. Good work.

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