What can we Learn from Celery?

Celery Still Life © jj raia

Fading Celery © jj raia

For anyone who follows this blog, you’ve already seen several images like the one above made from very simple set ups in my “kitchen studio”: window light, white reflector, black background, granite tabletop. Nothing complicated or expensive, except for in this instance, the celery.

The only thing done differently for this one was some additional post processing from what would normally be pretty basic. The extra processing wasn’t any secret formula, but rather simply using the brushes in Lightroom with much more thought behind their use than usually goes into them, namely, lighten this or darken that. This time, an actual reason behind each brush stroke was mentally verbalized to gently bring out more luminosity in the stalks and leaves, while at the same time, being cognizant of the light’s direction to create additional contouring and highlights. “Drawing” in these thoughts, so to speak; the why behind them.

While brushing, decisions on which part of each leaf or stalk was determined prior to making the brushstroke, and if the change in exposure for it was too great, then the stroke was partially erased. If the effect was not sufficient, then adjustments to the exposure were made. Quite often, many strokes within a single sequence were altered through changes in the flow and density, to adjust their affect. If a stroke couldn’t be corrected satisfactorily, it was deleted altogether, and the process begun again. It was not saying, “the stalk needs increased exposure”, but rather. “where on the stalk would added exposure help it appear more round based on the light’s direction?” Each brushstroke served a specific purpose.

If we can enhance the three-dimensionality of the subject within this two-dimensional screen or print, then we can move closer to the true realization of this representational form of photography, namely, to record exactly what we see, and more importantly, how we see it.


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