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Summer Tomato

October 16, 2009 Normally, after a Southern California rain passes, there is a period of transitional weather that can make for an interesting backdrop on a landscape photograph. Not this week. In fact, it seems as though Los Angeles went from fall to winter to summer all in a few days. Not that Los Angeles is known for the four seasons, but, even for a Los Angeles native it was confusing.

I took the sudden change from rain to sunshine - jumping from drops to a summer still life - to revisit my Vitamin D rant; not for the rant, but for the technical quality of the photograph. Upon reflecting on the original tomato photograph, a few things bothered me: the darker background was distracting (when it was supposed to help highlight the subject) and the lighting was reflecting as glare from the face of the tomato.

Tilt-Shift lenses bring the advanced movements of medium format cameras to the world of 35mm. Canon's TSE and Nikon's PC-E (perspective control) allow 35mm photographers greater control.

In the new photograph I used reflectors and the bright sunshine to naturally light the still life. This brought brightness to the entire composition without causing glare on the shiny surface of the tomato. Opting for a simpler composition I removed some elements of the still life. I decided to highlight the sliced tomato thru isolation and white space. The original photograph was shot with a long lens - for the compression of the elements in the still life – and extension tubes to allow for closer focus and greater depth of field. The compression of a longer lens makes objects appear closer together than they are.

For the new photograph I switched up the lens. Using a 24mm TSE (Tilt and Shift) lens I was able to get right on top of the composition. The tilt movement of the lens allowed more white space by spreading out the composition even further. The tilt function also allows for the perception of a shallow depth of field.

The change in weather was a chance, for me, to hold on to summer a little longer. In that spirit, I cut up the rest of the tomatoes - after checking the photographs - and added them to a nice end of summer salad of roasted endive, red peppers, onions and mushrooms. Yum.



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2007 PCT Hiker
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