Fun with pepper photography in black and white

Every year savings time gets a hold of me. The older I get, the harder it is for me to adapt when the time changes. This week has been difficult, I have felt depressed in the mornings, I guess from bad sleep. Although I’ve gotten a little better towards the end of the week, I have not taken any photos in the past few days. My post will be about older work.

In the summer of 2020, when we were on and off on lockdowns here in California because of COVID-19, one of my favorite things to do was shopping at the local farmers market, which continued to operate with some modifications.

During that summer, I bought a number of vegetables with the intention to photograph them. Peppers and tomatoes stood out, as they revealed interesting forms and shapes under certain angles.

At the time, I shared the resulting images on Instagram, and my followers seemed to like them, but the association with Edward Weston discouraged me from continuing. No one wants to hear that their work is just like someone else’s.

Recently, I decided to upload the five resulting photos to my GeoGalleriesvegetables” portfolio, and see what happens. Because depth of field was an issue, I used a 50 mm lens, and the distance between the camera and the subject was greater than I would have liked. Consequently, the resulting photos had to be extensively cropped and the maximum print size is small: 11’X11′ is the largest size available.

I had many hours of entertainment with this project, between choosing the vegetables, washing them, photographing and post-processing the images. If you have ever tried to photograph peppers, you know that they glow. Lighting is very tricky, and failed experiments were many. Post-processing involved a lot of selective dodging and burning in Photoshop. It is sure a fun collection to look at, but I don’t think that I am going to make many more of those!

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Published by Alessandra Chaves

Photographer with a preference for nature photography in black and white and other abstractions.

19 thoughts on “Fun with pepper photography in black and white

  1. Ya I really wish they would put DST to rest. The time change always messes me up and then of course my sweet pets have to adapt to feeding times but I generally do that slowly. There is no slowly for us humans who are forced to adapt overnight. Anyways I’m better today. I think I’ve adapted. Grrrrrr… ok enough about that. I really loved your vegetable collection when you shared them on Instagram. It was truly inspirational. I loved the lighting and shadows and of course the black and white accentuates the mood into another dimension of a more personal form of art. Black and white tends to do that. A unique feeling about the photographers point of view comes forward and should never be compared with others who have photographed similar subjects. That is like going to a fine restaurant and telling the chef that his dish tastes like the chef’s dish in the restaurant across the street. It should not be done.

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  2. As you pointed out, people who know the history of art photography will invariably associate pepper pictures with Edward Weston. Still, that’s no reason to preclude a subject from one’s own work, and you didn’t. You have a good imagination to see one picture in the set as a meditating Buddha. For me the two body builders come more easily.

    You mentioned tomatoes, yet I don’t see any pictures of them on the site you linked to. At least with them you could peel off some of the Edward Weston associations.

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  3. Nice shots! Apart from the body builders, I thought these looked quite different from Weston’s work… he cropped in much closer and some of your peppers are more symmetrical whereas his were always very irregularly shaped. Besides, there’s always going to be other photographers who have done similar work; it’s really difficult now to photograph something totally unique. I like the textures and the lighting!

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  4. I too was disappointed at the lack of tomatoes. SInce Weston is a subject to speak about here, he did nudes and therefore tomato butts seem appropriate. 😀

    It’s good that you enjoyed this project and even if you are done with it, because of associations or something else, I am sure the experience has taught you much for other projects so it has great value.The learning never stops.

    Btw, my favorite shot on the page you linked to is that of the photographer. Nice to have a face to go with the name.

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  5. Well. I’ve heard the name Edward Weston, but I wasn’t familiar with his work, and I certainly didn’t know he’s associated with peppers. I did an image search, and must say your peppers equal his peppers – at least, to my eye. I really enjoyed these photos; the two on this page reminded me of the buds of certain flowers, although the one on the left looks remarkably like the end of an electric drill or screwdriver — the part you tighten to hold the bit.

    Years ago, I did quite a bit of buying and selling of antique china on ebay. I had a terrible time learning how to photograph those pieces, so I appreciate the difficulties that shiny peppers could provide.

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    1. Weston’s nudes emphasized shape and curves, and I find it interesting that he was able to photograph almost everything the same way. Antique China is very hard to photograph! These days you can buy a light tent from Amazon and with a little practice get ok pictures. Glass is the worst.

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  6. They really look like human figure photographs (or at least they do to me!). Lovely tonality and shapes. You got a lot of interested comments as well – well done!

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