Which one do you prefer?
The very first choice I have to make when I set up a shot – well, right after “do I eat first or shoot first” – is: light or dark?
I usually have an idea in my head of how I want the final shot to look. But before I pick a dish out of the prop closet, before I dig into the container of discount fabric scraps, I have to decide: bright & happy or dark & dramatic.
After that decision is made, the rest falls into place.
The same shot can look completely different, evoke completely different reactions. I adore the bright whites and blown-out highlights in a slightly over-exposed photo. There’s very little to distract from the subject, your eye is drawn to color, and there isn’t a shadow in sight. The reds of the cherries and contrasting aqua colander really pop against the white. It’s reminiscent of spring, summer. It’s bright & shiny. Total happiness.
And at one time, I would have never considered trying anything else. I had my all-white dishes, my almost white placemat and napkin, and an enviable amount of light coming through gigantic windows (I miss those windows!). But my photography heroes don’t always shoot bright & happy so I’ve been working on pushing myself out of my bright & overexposed box.
There’s such beauty in darker shots, one I’m learning to really appreciate. Colors don’t pop in the same way they do against a white background but the richness and saturation are so much more dramatic.
My “dark” backgrounds are either one of my darker wooden table tops or a black or dark brown poster board clamped to one of those propped-up tabletops. I guess I’ll show you how I do that – set up a shot – in the next installment of Photo Fridays.