With Apologies to Edward Weston

October 15, 2020  •  10 Comments

Red PepperRed PepperWith apologies to Edward Weston.

One of the vendors at our local farmers' market has the greatest peppers, especially the sweet red ones. They're large and meaty and very tasty. And they came in a wonderful variety of shapes. They reminded me of the famous pepper photo by Edward Weston, one of the most recognizable images from early 20th century photography. That photo in turn is reminiscent of Weston's figure studies for which he was well known; the forms of the pepper echoing the posed nudes.

So I had to set up an impromptu still-life studio to photograph one of the peppers we brought home that reminded me of a figure in a crouching pose. I sat the pepper on a plain gray background in the north-facing screen porch in daylight, with no other lighting. It's a fairly straightforward photo with a DSLR (Nikon D850) and macro lens (Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro), but converted to black&white in Lightroom. I did use a polarizing filter on the lens to try and tone down some of the reflections from the pepper's very shiny skin. Also, because the pepper is large compared to the size of the frame, I knew it could not all be sharply focused in a single exposure. So I took a series of photos focused at different depths within the scene and combined them using Photoshop's Auto Blend Layers tool that combines a set of images using the sharpest portion of each.

For reference, you can see Weston's pepper photo at the Museum of Modern Art's website.