5 Lunch Time

Recent reductions in local authority funding have seen reductions to or even the complete withdrawal of the Meals on Wheels service in some areas.


I originally thought of portraying this with a frozen ready-meal on a plate as an indication of what might replace the Meals on Wheels. But then I gave a bit more thought to constructing an image that would be more of a comment on the possible effects of these cuts.

I researched news items concerning changes to meals on wheels services and printed these. I planned to have these as a base for the photograph in a similar fashion to the previous image. I found that they would not lay completely flat if printed on ordinary paper. I thought of printing them onto card but then had the idea of sticking the headlines onto recipe cards, giving a connection between the changes to the meals on wheels service and the need to prepare food (as it would no longer be provided). To extend the connection further I came up with the concept of using shredded recipe cards as the ‘meal’ on the plate.

I wanted a different background to the table I had used earlier for the breakfast photo. I arranged this image on a translucent sheet to give more options for lighting it in different ways.

Having arranged the plate and recipe cards I placed the knife and fork in position together with the scissors (to represent the cuts).

I wanted to experiment with juxtaposition and also have the image say something more about the possible effects of the withdrawal of a service some older people could depend on. The image was, to my mind, already slightly surreal and I thought that I could make it even more so.

In the Illustrated Dictionary of Symbols in Eastern and Western Art (Hall, 1994) James Hall states that in Greek mythology Persephone was given a pomegranate to eat before leaving Hades and that this “ensured her periodical return below and the future cycle of death and rebirth of nature”. He also says that Ivy, as an evergreen, can be a symbol of immortality but that it is also a symbol of death because “…. it destroys and starves any tree by withdrawing the moisture.” I decided to include both the pomegranate and the ivy in the image as symbols of the cycle of life and death, but the ivy on the plate indicating that it is nearer the death cycle rather than that of life.

The pomegranate on its own looked strange at the top of the picture, so I included a half pomegranate in a bowl as well, this balanced the image at the top with the two smaller circles of the bowl and whole pomegranate at the top and the larger circle of the plate at the bottom. The ivy between the two pomegranates filling in the top row of the triangle formed with the plate.

I did not want flat, even lighting for this shot as I thought it needed something a bit more dramatic. I placed a studio flash at about 90 degrees to the camera position to side light the scene so that the shadows formed would highlight the texture of the shredded recipe cards. To direct the light into the scene and reduce the possibility of flare I fitted a 10degree honeycomb grid to the reflector.

This is a mobile phone picture of the setup


Finally I needed to decide how to light the background. In the previous module I had used coloured gels to light a paper background; I thought I would like to try a similar effect here, but with the light from behind the translucent sheet. I placed a flashgun behind the translucent sheet and put a red coloured gel over it. I experimented with changing the power settings on the flashgun until I achieved the exposure that I wanted. I chose the red gel to match the colour of the pomegranate and act as a complementary colour to the green of the ivy. Lighting the background in this way has given a graduated effect to the intensity of the colour which I like.

My intention with this photo was to suggest;

· Impact of cuts to meals on wheels service

· Effect this might have on some vulnerable, older people

Technical alternatives

Space in the room I was using for this shot dictated that I used my 18-55mm zoom.

I could have used different coloured gels for the background light, perhaps the choice of red has meant that the single pomegranate to the right does not stand out so much.

Technical information

Lens: VR 18-55 F/3.5-5.6G

Focal Length: 29mm

Aperture: F/10

Shutter Speed: 1/125s

Exposure Mode: Manual

No adjustments have been made to the image.

How could this image be improved?

I really like the image I have achieved, it is possibly the most ambitious that I have attempted. Were I to try to recreate it I might use a reflector on the right hand side to throw some light back into the shadows of the pomegranate.


What have I learned from taking this photograph?

I have learnt a lot from this shot in terms of using symbols to convey meaning within an image. I enjoyed researching the meaning of the various symbols and incorporating them within the photo.

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