Donut still life (well, sort of)

I’m just getting into still life photography. There are completely different challenges to still life, as opposed to performance, family, or headshot photography. On the plus side, you don’t need any people to play.

In this case, all I needed was that stale donut from yesterday, which I pulled out of the garbage. Sure, I was going to get the shot set up and run out for a fresh donut, but then I figured “Why?” So you’re looking at a stale donut that was pulled from the garbage.

Food photography is nothing new to me, but typically the dishes are sitting still. Nice and easy. One light, maybe some whiteboard to bounce the light, and done. Here, though, I wanted to capture the sprinkles (or “jimmies,” as my wife inexplicably refers to them…must be a North Jersey thing) in motion. And that turned out to be the most challenging part.

And let’s be clear: it’s not really “still life” if I’m dropping jimmies on the thing, ya know? But for me, it falls under the still life category more than those things I usually shoot (other than food, which as I said, usually stays still).

While we typically say that a flash will “freeze the action,” that’s not exactly true. A flash’s power is directly related to how long it fires. So if you are firing on full power, the flash is on for a relatively long time. And when that’s the case, those little moving “jimmies” will show some motion blur. So I had to trigger the flash at about 1/128th power. This, of course, meant that there wasn’t enough light for a decent exposure.

Rather than raise the ISO and introduce unwanted noise, I simply added another flash. And then another, as it turned out. The three flashes, all camera left, produced enough light (all at 1/128th power of course) to freeze the falling “jimmies” as they fell.  The set-up was a mishmash of a softbox, a Rogue Flashbender, and a bare flash aiming up with the bounce card pulled out. And then a piece of whiteboard camera right to bounce some light onto the right side of the donut for fill.

This was a proof-of-concept shoot, as I was curious what it would take to basically pull it off. Next time I pay more attention to how I’m dropping those jimmies, and perhaps get rid of some that had already hit the deck in front of the donut. But really, there’s no such thing as too many jimmies.

I should add that I didn’t eat the donut…as far as you know.

donut largedonut BTSBehind the scenes. What a mess!

Lilacs in New Jersey in springtime

As some background on this one, I will state that my mother-in-law’s (that’s “Ruth” to you) favorite flower is the lilac. This is undeniably the case, evidenced by how she walked down the aisle with her husband some 70 years ago holding a bunch of these fragrant beauties.

Fast forward countless decades, and Ruth brought to my wife and me a lilac bush some years back to plant in our yard after we bought our home, and joked that we’d “always remember” her when we see it. We fondly refer to it as “Ruth’s bush,” which, depending on how immature your sense of humor is, might make you giggle. Before you judge, I’ve got a story about an 88-year-old Ruth making a joke about the product Black Betty (“For the Hair Down There”) that had us laughing to the point of tears which I may share later. The lesson? You’re never too old or mature to work blue, or be silly.

Well ANYway, it’s huge now (Ruth’s bush), and it’s that time of year, and the thing is going absolutely nuts with brilliant blossoms.

I grabbed a few blossoms today before the crazy and angry New Jersey rain came in out of nowhere and pummeled the darned thing.

And then I took a few shots. I’m thinking of framing this one and presenting it to the old gal, so she knows we appreciate her kind gesture, and she knows we love these wonderful gifts that grace our yard every spring.

The little I know about flower photography still far exceeds what I know about flower arrangements, I found out quickly, as I stared endlessly and mindlessly, and poked and man-handled these surprisingly delicate matrices of bee food. If you know how to arrange flowers, by all means please reach out to me and give a guy some help.

I should add that the pot in this photo is most likely Ruth’s, and is probably older than me. Yet another nice gift from a thoughtful woman.

still life flowers-034-Edit-3