Just a quick blog post of a shoot I did of some tenderstem broccoli. I was exploring graphic ideas of food and ingredients. These stems of broccoli looked pretty good in Waitrose when I was out shopping so they went in my basket even though I had no idea what I was going to do with them. They inspired me though so the challenge was on.
Back home I rooted around in my kitchen cupboards and discovered this rarely used drainage tray for my kitchen sink. I loved the brushed steel with the large holes and realised it would make a great contrast to the lush organic shapes of the broccoli. In the studio I set up a very dark grey felt cloth as a background and then arranged the broccoli in the tray until they started to look good. The broccoli tree evolved and I like the way it represented something so much larger than itself; the tree, symbol of life and manufacturer of the oxygen we breathe.
As I was steering towards a graphic image I went for a relatively hard light source with the 70cm deep octa at the head end of the tray. As the light source was pretty close the fall off was quite strong. I added a lastolite reflector at the other end of the tray to bounce a few photons back into stems and add some shape to the edges of the tray. A few tweaks to the lighting and reflector and I was starting to get some cool results. One thing that bothered me was the background was a little too prominent for the graphic look I was after. The answer was to raise the tray about 30cm above the background by balancing it on a light modifier. That meant also raising the camera and light source. A few more tweaks and I had the image I wanted.
I'd been shooting tethered to Lightroom on my macbook so I could see the results on a big screen as i worked. Shooting tethered is such a benefit that there's really no excuse not to make use of it when in the studio. A 100% zoom in to check critical focus and seeing the work big sure makes the bloopers easier to spot and get rectified while the subject is still in situ. Tweaking a leaf into a better position for example. The image below is the raw unedited image I selected to refine and edit to the finished vision.
In Lightroom the first thing was to tweak the colour balance as it was a tiny bit warm. The white balance dropper on the stainless steel soon got things fixed. Next into Photoshop for healing of scratches and blemishes in the stainless steel, especially around the edges where I felt they were too distracting. And that was it. I left the broccoli alone. It's organic edges were perfect as they were and it was fresh. Back into Lightroom for some small boosts to clarity, vibrance and saturation. A little lift to shadows and a vignette finished the photograph.