Pumpkins !

– Posted in: Garden Photography, Garden Photography

Lady Godiva pumpkin poster

The display of winter squash at the National Heirloom Expo is daunting for a photographer – soooo many potential subjects. This year I decided to photograph all the pumpkins.

Grown by Durst Organic Growers, the main exhibit hall was filled with hundreds of fantastical gourds laid out in small groups on large rows of tables.

National Heirloom Expo 2013

 But indoors ?  on white table cloths?  how was I to make interesting photos ?

The easy way to start was the signature display – the massive gourd mountain of winter squash put together by Mac Condill.  It is hard not to take a fun picture of that bejeweled pyramid.

pumpkin winter squash mountain

The only real photo tip I can give here is to be careful in lining up the display between the banners on the wall and filling the frame with as much of the mound as possible. Afterwards, in the computer post production, I darkened the other displays and the people in the background.

But for the long display tables of the individual squash and pumpkins it was a little harder to find the photos.  These guys weren’t exactly staged and styled for the camera. So I found myself composing tight shots and occasionally “adding” a little extra in Photoshop.

In this first shot of the ‘Arikira Knife River’ squash, notice the darks “holes” of the cement floor in the upper left.

Arikira Knife River squash in gourd display - National Heirloom Expo 2013

‘Arikira Knife River’ winter squash on display table at Heirloom Exposition.

I simply could not find an angle that managed to cover that hole in an otherwise strong composition.  So I added a couple squash with Photoshop.

Next, on this ‘Iran’ pumpkin, which was all by itself on the table, I did a lot of “enhancing”.  Can you find four “additions” ?

Squash 'Iran' National Heirloom Expo 2013

Striped winter squash ‘Iran’ with Photoshop enhancements

Did you find all four ?  – the added pumpkin shapes in the upper left and lower right, the enlarged stem, and filled in rib leading the eye toward the stem.

These last two changes are not really important to the photo but since I was already in Photoshop filling in the empty spaces, I decided to play.  I almost never do this sort of manipulation in my photojournalism work; there is simply not enough time, but occasionally an advertising client will want special treatment.  And the camera always lies anyway…

As I went through the pumpkins on the photo shoot I always tried to find an angle that allowed a full composition and did not give away the location as a table at a show.  Sometimes it was as simple as walking around the particular pumpkin, like with this ‘Solor’.

Orange pumpkin 'Solor'; National Heirloom Expo 2013

Two views of ‘Solor’ pumpkin on display table

No Photoshop needed.

Sometimes I moved the pumpkins a bit, building a more interesting composition but even so, most often there was no way to eliminate holes peeking through.

Orange pumpkin, Squash - 'Trois Geants' National Heirloom Expo 2013

Stack of ‘Trois Geants’ pumpkins on display table

I thought I made that white “hole” at the top of the photo small enough so as not to be a distraction, but now when I look at this picture all I see is the telltale white tablecloth.  This is one photo where I may very well go back with Photoshop and “add” more pumpkin, probably picking up the yellowish one.

Let’s go through a few more together and imagine what might be done to “improve” the picture.

Orange squash - 'Golden' Pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima) National Heirloom Expo 2013

‘Golden Pumpkin’ display

The very top of the ‘Golden Pumpkin’ composition has a dark gray hole.  Pretty minor problem though, and not nearly as distracting as a white “hole”.

Next, look at this ‘Golden Hubbard’ pumpkin.  See any distractions ?

Squash 'Golden Hubbard' - Heirloom pumpkin

‘Golden Hubbard’ pumpkin with yellow ‘Navajo Cushaw’ Winter Squash

Given the time I would get rid of the knobby squash in the back left and add more of the yellow ‘Navajo Cushaw’ Winter Squash in its place, and also fill the hole on the right side about 2/3 down.

That same knobby squash is behind the ‘Connecticut Field’ heirloom pumpkin in the next photo.  What would improve this frame?

'Connecticut Field' heirloom winter squash

‘Connecticut Field’ heirloom pumpkin on display table with other winter squash.

I don’t like the confusing shapes in the upper left so I would probably clone that knobby texture and add more of it, simplifying and calming the composition.

Squash (Cucurbita pepo) 'Winter Luxury Pie', orange pumpkin

‘Winter Luxury Pie’ pumpkin display

Would you get rid of the olive skinned squash behind?

And this stack of Heirloom French, Cinderella pumpkins ?

Cinderella pumpkin - 'Rouge Vif d'Etampes'

Heirloom French, Cinderella pumpkin – ‘Rouge Vif d’Etampes’

How about this stack of ‘Lady Godiva’ pumpkins?

Lady Godiva squash in gourd display at National Heirloom Expo 2013

Stack of ‘Lady Godiva’ pumpkins at the Heirloom Exposition

Well this is what I did with it:

photoshop treatment lady godiva pumpkin

 Addendum:

The Connecticut Field pumpkin from 5 photos above, reworked overnight.

MG-2135 Connecticut Field Pumpkin at Heirloom Expo.

 

 

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Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt is the owner of PhotoBotanic.com, a garden picture resource for photographs, on-line workshops, and garden photography stories. An award winning photojournalist and Fellow of The Garden Writers Association with more than 25 garden books, he lives and gardens in Northern California. PhotoBotanic - Garden Photography online at www.photobotanic.com. https://photobotanic.com
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