My Students Shoot Food: The Winning Shot

The Winning Shot: Chocolate fondant, shot by Andrew Boge, Sean Backer, and Jeff Burke.

The Winning Shot: Chocolate fondant, shot by Andrew Boge, Sean Backer, and Jeff Burke. Blank spaces are left in the image to allow for the magazine title, as well as the mailing box and inside teasers.

At Hastings College, we have a special term during January called, well, JTerm (big surprise on the name, right?). It’s a three-week period where students take one course for three hours a day, travel, or do exploratory work; it’s also my favorite time at the college, since I can teach workshop-style photography courses that the regular fall and spring semesters just can’t do.

This year, I was excited to teach a new course, “Photographing Gourmet Food,” and it must be interesting for students, too, since the course was overloaded in terms of enrollment. Clearly, the class was interesting to the local media, too, since over the three-week period, three separate media teams came into the class and did multimedia stories (you can see one of the stories here). My goal, though, was to help students understand the complicated and controversial topic of food photography, all while learning to shoot food like a pro.

The final project was a competitive fictional scenario: Shoot the cover for the February edition of Food & Wine magazine, and hope your group’s shot is good enough to win. I hadn’t anticipated the level of excitement that would generate, but the students were bubbling—and competitive to the extreme—about the chance of winning the shot. I hadn’t anticipated the level of quality I’d get, either—for a group of 18–22-year olds, most of whom had no photo experience, the shots turned out impressive.

And so I give you the winners: Andrew Boge, Sean Backer, and Jeff Burke’s shot of chocolate fondant was meticulously planned, well-styled, and well-shot. It will be printed inside the dummy cover and stay on display in the Gray Center Gallery for 3 months.

The Runners-Up: Marbled chocolate brownies, shot by Carolina Hall, Sarah Johnson, and Elisabeth Mundy.

The Runners-Up: Marbled chocolate brownies, shot by Carolina Hall, Sarah Johnson, and Elisabeth Mundy.

The runners-up were the team of Carolina Hall, Sarah Johnson, and Elisabeth Mundy, who shot marbled chocolate brownies.

I’m proud of my students, so I’d appreciate it if everyone would show them some support: Give ’em a like.

Hotel Room, Denver

Hotel Room, Denver

Hotel Room, Denver

My friend George left for Japan today to teach with Arthur Meyerson. George makes images of solitude, and while I was in a hotel room in Denver this last weekend, I found myself empathizing with the emotions George channels in his photographs. I missed my children and my wife, and my compatriots in the photographic life. So I made an image of my own loneliness, inspired by George’s vision.

This Mortal Coil

This Mortal Coil

This Mortal Coil

Life’s bittersweet underbelly revealed itself for me this last year, making 2015 one which I’ll never forget. As written in some previous posts, I’ve struggled trying to identify, to understand, then to express the emotions 2015 has left with me; as artists, we don’t run from the pain, we embrace it and use it.

The Inequity of Ascension

The Inequity of Ascension

The Inequity of Ascension

I’ve long contemplated this photograph and several variations thereof; I knew I had to make it, but struggled with a satisfactory iteration in camera. But in December, one of my dearest friends suggested a balloon for the composition as we discussed my image plans while driving in northwest Texas. The wheels began turning, and this last Saturday, I made the first image of the idea, channelling my sense of isolation in the below-zero temperatures.

 

The Longing of Abandonment

The Longing of Abandonment

The Longing of Abandonment

I made a needed trip to Texas about a month ago, and had some needed time with some of my besties in the whole world: George, Melinda, Liz and Keira. But photographically, I’m currently in the creative wilderness, and the trip gave me an opportunity to make an image that expresses that sense of wandering.

Making a Museum Print

One the two prints: "Horses and Gathering Storm"

One the two prints: “Horses and Gathering Storm”

I made two prints this weekend: “Horses and Gathering Storm” and “Leif and Claire.” Two calibrated, museum-grade prints on my Epson Stylus Pro 3880. Prints that took me more than 14 hours of work between them, so much work that it really chafes when people suggest “digital has made producing photographic prints so much easier.” Maybe simple memory prints, but there is just as much work as before when making the top-quality products.

If you’d like a look into what just one part of the process entails, Field & Studio, where I have a tutorial for just the print feed calibration phase of the printing.

New Tutorial: Fixing Banding in Museum-quality Prints on the Epson 3880 and P800

The Hopeful Final Print.

The Hopeful Final Print.

I’ve just completed a new tutorial on Field & Studio, my tutorial blog, for an easy way to remove slight banding in black and white prints when using the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 or the Epson SureColor P800. If you, too, are looking to find a solution to this vexing problem, this post may help.

I was spurred into finding my own solution to this after I struggled with the print shown here; it has low depth of field, which can pose a problem for inkjet printers. Let me know if you, too, have had the problem, and if my solution helped.

Chairs, Texas

Chairs, Texas

Chairs, Texas

I went to Texas recently with my good friend and former assistant Liz McCue to see several other dear friends, including two accomplished photographers, Melinda Green Harvey and George Nobechi Bumstead. On the way there, we drove through myriad small towns, but in one, took a wrong turn. As we looked for a spot to turn around, both Liz and I exclaimed at the same moment, “Did you see those chairs?!?!”

The Bones of Winter

The Bones of Winter (Sketch)

The Bones of Winter (Sketch)

I’ve begun a new project called “The Bones of Winter,” and sketches are important to the final product in any endeavor. The above is one such draft, and all are focused on a poem of Dickinson:

The sky is low, the clouds are mean,
A travelling flake of snow
Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.

A narrow wind complains all day
How some one treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.

Water Grass, Colorado

Water Grass, Colorado

Water Grass, Colorado

While I was in New Mexico this summer teaching at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, I took a pilgrimage to the Andrew Smith Gallery, which deals solely in photography by the likes of the Westons, Ansel Adams, Edward Curtis and Lee Friedlander. Paul Caponigro is also there, and while he is most certainly not afforded the fame given to Ansel Adams, he would be very deserving of such. An original Caponigro has deep, midnight blacks punctuated by staccato bursts of near-white that leave the viewer unsettled and contemplative, yet placated by the natural beauty so overlooked within daily life. They are poems of sublime quietness.

So after I had left the landscape of mystery behind, moving north to Colorado, I found in my travels a small lake in the wilds of the Sawatch range that moved me much like a Caponigro.