I hope you don't mind if there's no recipe today. Truth is, last week was spent mostly out of the kitchen, madly working and then scrambling to pack before my trip out of town (btw, hello from Scotland!). But, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the photographic process, between getting ready for my BlogHer Food panel on "Finding your visual voice" (with Tami and Aran) and hearing about the Penny de los Santos live-streamed workshop via twitter that I sadly had to miss due to travel arrangements. So, I thought today that I'd share another recipe/how-to of sorts: a behind-the-scenes break-down of my oranges shot above (from this kiwi orange creamsicle post).
This image, the first one I took, was mostly about testing the light, the plate, and the table together with the oranges, as well as adjusting for exposure and aperture settings (shooting manual). It's sort of atypical for me to use a plate like this one--it's a bit too modern and 'clean-cut' for my tastes--but here, I actually quite liked how it contrasted with the extra rustic quality and texture of the wood underneath.
The lighting set-up here is a large window to the right of the table. I didn't use a reflector on the left because I wanted to have some of that shadowing you see from the oranges, to give them dimension. Otherwise, I find globular objects sometimes uninteresting and difficult to shoot/style because they come across flat so easily. Plus, I just like shadows, if you haven't noticed already. :-)
Having two whole oranges on a plate just looked boring and awkward, so here I added two slices of oranges as well as a knife, to give the photo a bit of context. The orange slices also fill in blank space in the bottom left of the plate, while the diagonal knife at the back fills in the negative space up there. Even so, everything is still angled a little off-center on the plate, just so things don't look too symmetrical and, by extension, staged.
What I still wasn't satisfied with in photo  above was that the bright lighting in the upper right hand corner distracts from the focus on the oranges. One thing I'm constantly thinking about is where I want to guide the viewer's eye in a photo, and I want to make it as unambiguous as possible where they should focus and look first before taking in the rest of the image. So here, in photo , I used a scrim to block out some of the light shining on the back of the table behind the oranges--sort of like a vignetting effect.
(Note: the first try with the scrim made the back quite dark, which I'm also not so happy with, but I fixed this in later shots.)
Since I was going for a sort of vignetting effect with the lighting, I wanted to block out some of the light in front of the plate, too, so here's the lighting set-up I ended up with. I think of this as "narrowing the aperture" of the window to control exactly where the light falls.
Once the lighting was set up, I could focus on the actual plate. Once again, the two full, uncut, globular oranges were just sort of awkward, especially when accompanied by two orange slices: where did those two slices come from, for instance, if both oranges on the plate were uncut? Instead, I switched out one of the full oranges for a half, keeping the prettier of the two full oranges in the back.
I angled the half orange towards the light so that the light would fall onto the open face side, which is the interesting part that you want to look at, and create shadows on the underside. (akin to how you might turn someone's face towards the light in a portrait and create shadows only on certain parts of their face and neck.)
Looking at photo , I still found the foreground and background table to be too distracting to the eye: i.e., there's just too much negative space that detracts from the photo rather than adding any interest. My original intention was to crop photo  in post-processing to a square, since I liked how the square-format shot turned out using Instagram. (tip: iPhone makes a great shot-previewer, if you will.)
Another way that I tried to limit the foreground and background excess space was to try a landscape framing rather than a portrait one, which ended up working well because it didn't cramp the plate so tightly as the portrait framing did. This is the final raw image straight from the camera.
[ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/250 sec]
Finally, I don't usually do much post processing to my images, but I do like to increase the contrast, which enhances the distinction between the lights and the shadows.
...and there's the final product!