Saturday, 20 January 2018

'Spaghetti' hell

Coming to the end of week 3 now and I decided to combine this week's photo challenges.
Dogwood's challenge was to shoot full manual but it's something I normally do anyway, especially when I'm in a controlled environment where I'm not relying on natural light & the sun constantly popping in & out..

Technical: Full ManualWhile the camera often determines shutter speed and aperture for the photographer, it doesn't know your creative intent. This week, challenge your self to assume creative control over the camera by using full manual mode. Select a subject where varying the aperture and / or shutter speed helps enhance the composition and visual qualities of the image.
The other brief was to artistically sell your favourite food. "So whether you turn your food into a piece of art, then shoot it.. or you shoot your favourite food and play around with the image in post, the choice is yours. Don't just pick a food because it's artistic, pick your food because you love it.
Make me want to eat this.. make it beautiful or bonkers.. sell me your favourite food."

Set-up in the kitchen.. obvious, but I like photographing kitchens. I've got a bit of an obsession with my fave studio, The Hacienda London's kitchen and photographed that before any other room in the stunning location, haha.. although theirs is MUCH nicer than my kitchen, but I like having loads of food / bread and kitchen utensils on the sideboard with which to make a cool set.

I set up a small gridded beauty dish directly in front of me and relatively low as I knew I wanted to be leaning over the table and didn't want the shadows on my face too harsh. The camera was set up out of shot & to the left in this image, hitting the table at 45 degrees.
Without the grid on the dish light bounced everywhere and looked quite flat, but with the grid not enough light hit the worksurface behind me, enhancing the fact I was in a kitchen. I set up a speed light on a stand directly behind where I sat for the shot so my body hid the stand.. that light (lowest power) hit the food directly without hitting any of the white cupboards. When the cupboards were lit, they overpowered the entire image - being white they are a huge distraction. If anything, I wanted less light on them.
Before I put the speedlight on a stand behind me and aimed directly, I had tried balancing it on top of the see-through extractor hood, (flashing through it) and taping it under the cupboards aiming down, but although it looked like there was some kind of funky under-cupboard lighting, it didn't look right.


My favourite food is pesto spaghetti! I love the taste of green pesto, although I have the veggie stuff because I only eat plant-based foods, (tastes the same; I dunno why the original even has Parmesan in) and I thought I'd do something messy with heaps of long strands of spaghetti all over my face and hanging out my mouth.
Except I also have a slight sensitivity to gluten.. it's nothing major, but I try to be good so I used gluten-free spaghetti, then found the lack of gluten fails to keep the spaghetti in long strands(!) so it all broke up and looked like macaroni cheese instead. I'm gutted because it was supposed to look like spaghetti; in my head, this was the main feature of the image and I think it really messed up the shot.
To make up for it, I swapped my fork for a ladle to exaggerate scooping it into my mouth and used a huge clear dish so you could see how much spaghetti there was inside - although, by the time I got the shot, most of it was on the floor!


I thought a 50mm would be perfect but the kitchen isn't huge. It would have worked had the table been right up against the cupboards, but that didn't look realistic so I put lots of space around the table and used a 35mm instead. Actually, the 50mm is broken, (it refuses to focus) so I didn't have a choice but the 35mm was perfect.
Used a wide aperture (F2) for a shallow depth of field as well as upping ISO to 200 plus very slow 1/25th shutter speed to allow some of the ambient light to come through, although it was getting dark outside by this point. The finished image is probably not as sharp as it could have been as although camera was on a tripod, I still had to breathe and there was weird short hybrid spaghetti flying everywhere. 

I don't often do messy stuff.. it's not that I'm afraid of getting dirty, it just feels weird having done smooth hair and nice make-up to go and smear pesto sauce all over your forehead & chin and whack a load of it down the front of your top.
I recently moved out of London so sorted a load of my clothes - the white vest top I'm wearing is one I was going to give to a charity shop anyway.. (I have bags of stuff for charity) so if the stains, (or the basil smell!) don't come out it's no great loss.
The spaghetti on the table wasn't arranged like that either; I was concentrating on so much at once - my pose, strange arm positions, making sure I kept still due to the slow shutter speed and trying to find the trigger to press with my foot - it naturally fell all over the place.


I feel proper fat now and still smell of pesto, and I'm still annoyed the spaghetti broke up into little bits.. it's really ruined the image for me and every time I look at the finished image, I can't get past it. But learning curves and all that, even though that specifically was nothing to do with lack of photography knowledge. Stupid gluten free rubbish.

This whole idea was inspired by Slink & Kositski's spag bol bonanza 
Super fun to shoot and I even cleaned up afterwards!

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