You don't have to read D.H. Lawrence' poem, Figs, to know that figs are the most erotic fruit - although it certainly helps.
Figs are also among the most visually interesting fruits. Pale and somber on the outside, fleshy, colorful and multi-textured on the inside. How best to capture all that in a mere two-dimensional photograph? I had to give it a try.
Two things inspired my effort. First, I've recently acquired a 200mm macro lens. It's an interesting beast, which renders detail wonderfully while offering serious depth of field challenges. Common wisdom has it that wider lenses, in the 10mm to 24mm range work best for food. So I decided to try it both ways.
And I was also inspired by the season. Fresh figs are available in my area of California for only a few short weeks each year, and then they are utterly and completely gone. As the famous poet makes clear, fresh figs cannot be preserved. So if I was to take on the challenge, now would definitely be the time.
Luckily for me, our farmer's market provided a box of good-looking purple figs, which I set up in my home studio. That studio consists of a card table. I topped it with some scraps of foam core, and used bits of pvc pipe, a hanger, a white trash bag and a flashlight to fashion a light box.
Next was the matter of composition. I tried a single fig. Boring. I tried cutting a fig in quarters as Lawrence suggests, but that just looked strange. I balanced the figs together in groups, I layered slices, I tried single slices, figs half cut, and a variety of combinations. In short, I found fig composition to be a bit more of a challenge than I had anticipated.
The wide angle compositions never quite spoke to me, but the long lens was a recipe for fig beauty. I shot at an ISO of 200, with a f-stop of 32 to maximize the depth of field. The exposure was three full seconds.
I also played with the flashlight, creating variations in the shadows and brightness on the fruit.
After some three hours of experimenting and shooting, I had a few images I liked, and a delicious feast of figs. The photo below is one of my favorites. Have I captured the essence, appeal and mystery of this wonderful fruit? Tell me what you think.
As for me, if this weekend's farmer's market yields another basket of figs, I may well try further. Eroticism is in the eye of each individual, but for me, there is no doubt that fig fascination is ongoing.