I, like most people, never really thought about how many kinds of pepper are used in the world. I figured there were a few kinds of black and red pepper that fills the grinder on my counter. White pepper, unusual but not unheard of. Does paprika count?
Then I met Josh Weber, an aficionado and wholesaler of pepper and other spices. Referred by a friend, Josh needed some new photos to catalog his pepper for his website. When I showed up to his place, I was surprised to find 40 or so small containers of pepper, labeled and sorted for only the best looking grains.
One concern Josh had about his current photos was that both the colors were inaccurate and the scale between peppercorns didn't show off the realistic difference between the small and large grains. I knew that in order to make him happy with my work I needed to find a way to standardize my process so that white balance was allways accurate and scale was consistent. In order to have a standarized series of photos, I would need to find a standarized way to shoot them. Also something that could be replicated for future shoots would be helpful, it turns out there is way more than 40 kinds of pepper.
To do this I set up a 90degree tripod head when I started and measured the distance from the table. In all of the catalog shots I was sure to include a small ruler and my trusty Color Passport. Despite the fact that the sun was changing throughout the shoot, I was able to use the passport to adjust the white balance in ediitng. When I went to go crop the images for the square grid that makes up the website, I was able to use the ruler to double check that everything was the same size.
Besides the challenge of these accurate catalog shots of the pepper, Josh gave me the freedom to do some artistic macro and styled shoots. Expect to see more of these in the future.