Wednesday, and my first semi-official gig as a magazine photographer. What that boils down to is trailing Tash around some winemakers in order to illustrate a piece she’s writing on Piedmont wine and food tourism for Australian Gourmet Traveller. I’ve been to wineries before, of course: it’s a challenge, photographically speaking.

From that point of view the first stop, Gaja in Barbaresco, yielded much the best results. Our guide was a very helpful woman called Gaia (pron. Gaja) Gaja (pron. Gaia), who, as part of the Gaja clan, is one of the business leads. She’s also a natural model; I took several informal portraits, this is — in my opinion, tho’ possibly not hers — the best:

The light in the cellar was cellarish — ie not a lot of it, and what there was a mixture of halogen and tungsten. I metered for an ambient exposure, which opened the lens up to around f5.6 and gave me a shutter speed of 1/20th. Thank goodness that I reluctantly sprang for an image stabliliser lens (which won me a stop and a half) and a camera which spits in the face of ISO 2000. A pop of very low-power manual flash, with a softie, brought her out of the background, which recedes nicely into bokeh and shadow, and added catchlights.

The pose was quite natural. I’d already taken a series which were OK — quite glam, actually — but, later, Gaia relaxed as she fielded Tash’s ever-more-involved questions (“yes, enzymes, but what kind of enzymes?”) The look of her against the barrel (which has her family name on it) was pretty obviously the one to go for.

Barrels sans human interest are more of a challenge. Here’s a bog-standard effort (you’ll see what I mean by mixed lighting):

Ok, but meh. Here’s something more interesting (or, less boring):

This was a case of looking for a pattern — easy — finding something that broke the pattern — the spill around the stopper — and making sure that the focus was tightly where it should be (tick) and the light (flash with a softie and the wick turned waaaay down) was, too (tick, kind-of). I may work on this when I have access to a proper PC; if it doesn’t irritate me too much.

Anyway, I have learned that this kind of photography can either be quite dull, or stimulating and challenging. Also, barrels may be difficult to love, but they’re a lot easier on the eye than enormous stainless steel tanks. There’s also no money in it. Ah well.

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