Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Woodfired Pots from Cary Joseph

A few weeks ago, Cary Joseph stopped by and asked if I could shoot some of the latest pots he pulled out of the anagama kiln that they fire over at Corning Community College. One glimpse into his box of pots and I was hooked. Rich saturated reds, blacks, yellows and ochres. Wicked color!

I am still putting the finishing touches on Cary's new website. My hope was to be done last weekend, but as usual, life infringed. Maybe this weekend I will get a couple hours of uninterrupted detail oriented website-design time. I'd love to add these new images.

I have been trying all sorts of new ways of utilizing my strobes in the studio. For years, I have adhered to a pretty standard boring static softbox from the top, shooting downward sort of position. With these new light modifiers, I have been working with multiple white cards and diffusion fabric, and shooting into the white cards to create a bigger light source... which it turn makes the shadows softer and it cuts down on the glare (although there tends not to be much glare with Cary's pots).

Next week we start the transition into more portrait work as the Fall gets underway and kids are heading back to school. My plan is to talk about some of our new ideas for high school (and college) portraits, as well as family and holiday portraits... over the next couple blog posts. Should be interesting hearing what folks have to say.

Which begs a question... does anyone care about the technical aspects of how these were shot? Does anyone want to know camera settings? lenses that were used? light modifiers and placement? Does anyone care? Let's hear about it in the comments.


  1. its a great job Alex---I am sure that matt surfaces are easier to picture than shiny, is that true?

  2. Morning Gary,
    Matte surfaces tend to cast less glare, but you'd be surprised by how much glare comes off of a woodfired pot. The darker the claybody, the more melt you see... sometimes even ends up metallic. Lots of choices with how to catch that glare... do I emphasize it? Do I mask it? Do I toss it into the shadows?

    With glazed work, this is less of an issue. I know a lot of photographers who do their level best to eliminate all glare from glazed pots. I think this does a real disservice to the pot (and the potter). Real pots have shine and glare. I tend to try to work with that and bring it out as a feature. If I've done my best, I think the pots look their absolute best. That way, when someone picks it up for the first time after having only seen images of it online or in a magazine, they immediately recognize that exact pot. No question.

    Fun stuff, that's for sure!

  3. I'm totally interested in your set ups.

    You have developed such a cool, specific style for these pottery product shots, it would be very interesting to see how that's changed now that you're moving to shooting them all with larger strobes, especially vis a vis detail shots at narrower apertures and managing highlights from larger light sources on reflective subjects.

    The whole thing must be raising some fascinating issues.

  4. Well, Justin, you're the first to ask... so I'll do some pull-back shots... maybe a little BTS.

    The biggest issue is that more often than not there is too much light.... so controlling the power of the light is always a bit of an issue. Especially when you figure that you want your light source pretty darned close to the subject if you want really nice buttery smooth light fall-off.

    I will put up some images and talk about the setup tomorrow or Sunday. Looking forward to seeing what you think.