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Hot Shots: Spicy Peppers Pop

In this series, we present a look-book of authentic photographs collected by the writers and editors here at Envato Tuts+. We hope these pictures inspire new ideas, help kindle  projects, and give you a better understanding of visual communication.

Today’s Image: Spicy
Oriental Spice Cayenne
. This image is by Nikolaydonetsk and it’s available
on Envato

Spicy Oriental Spice Cayenne
Spicy Oriental Spice Cayenne from Envato Elements

A Closer Look at This Image

Food pictures are everywhere today. We see so many it can be easy
to overlook a great food picture. So, it takes a particularly well-thought-out image to grab
our attention. I think this photograph—one of powerful contradictions and combinations—is one of them.

Expressive Color

The first thing that hits you is the use of colour.
The cool blue background and green basil leaves make the natural red of the peppers pop (our eyes see blue as a “receding” colours, which makes it look as if blue areas pulling away from us slightly. We see red as if it is “advancing”, or coming toward us slightly. Mix these two colour effects together and it creates a nice pop, as here).

If the peppers had been directly on the blue wood,
the picture might have looked very ‘busy’ or perhaps there’d have been too much
contrast. Putting the neutral wooden board between the two is a clever way to
break up the colours, whilst making sure focus is on the

Suggestive, Tactile Textures

The wood is so natural and gnarled, it’s a
fantastic texture. Again, it’s a lovely contrast to the shiny smoothness of the
peppers. For me, this is about the suggestion of taste and texture together—you can
imagine how biting the pepper would feel, you can almost hear the squeak of it
against your teeth. Contrarily, the spoon full of flakes would crunch. I think
either would soon set your mouth on fire! That suggested hotness though, is
reflected in the colours and then cooled nicely with the leaves and blue wood.


Why aren’t the subjects in the middle
of the frame? Images that have off-centre subjects tend to appeal to us more
(you can learn more about composition here), but this image does have three
items straight down the middle, so why does it still work?

Despite the sprig, garlic bulb and pepper in
the middle, there’s no doubt that the main focus of the composition is the
board of peppers. This comes back to the clever use of the neutral board—not only
is it breaking up those colours and keeping them slightly apart, but it’s also
framing the main subject, helping to drag your eye to it and away from those
central pieces.

It begs the question why include the
central pieces at all? Looking at the geometry of the composition, I think without them there wouldd be too much empty space. The positioning of them on the horizontal lines of the background works
well. In terms of meaning, adding basil and garlic does change how we read this image. It becomes a picture about related ingredients, highly suggestive of cooking. A picture of peppers alone would not have the same strong visual association or meaning.

Reading a Photograph

We’d love to hear your take on this photograph, and
if you’re not sure where to begin, then How to Read a Photograph will
get you started with how to analyse photography. Mostly, it’s just saying what
you see and how you feel about an image!