Blackberries Across Luminous Cutting Board

Blackberries Across Luminous Cutting Board

The rich, contrasting colors of the dark purple blackberries against an illuminated spring green surface make for an image that jumps off the page.


As with all fruit, blackberries are a great source of low-fat fuel; 79% of their calories are from carbohydrates, 10% from fats, and 11% from protein (Nutrition Data)

Manganese helps our body absorb their energy.  Its dietary fiber helps our body eliminate fat and regulate use of sugars. Vitamin C helps make connective tissue and membranes. Folate helps make new cells. And vitamin K helps build healthy bones and blood. (Duyff)

Prop Styling

The simple grid arrangement allows us to contemplate the character of each individual berry and well as their unity. The simple grid arrangement across the spring green illuminated cutting board touches upon the patterns of blackberries.

The blackberry itself is an aggregate fruit; a grid of small drupelets wrapped into an ellipse.  They are grown on thorny brambles, composed of a tangle of thick arching stems. (Huxley)

Shown preceding preparation, the symmetrical cleanliness and dark purple color group the berries together. This suggests their potential use in recipes taking advantage of its sweet, succulent character. Its continued patterning beyond the frame expresses abundance, potentially useful for food packaging and many other design applications.

Camera Angle

My Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens helped me bring out the detail of the berries and gave me plenty of room to move around the strobe lights. I used the smallest aperture to bring out the abundant range of textures. Looking straight down emphasized the pattern arrangement by minimizing the separation of foreground, middle ground and background.


I placed the blackberries on a textured glass cutting board with a spring green gel underneath. The berries have a dark purple color, so they need lots of light. As with all fruit it has a delicate skin and high water content, which provides its luminous quality. So, it really benefits from wrapping light all the way around it.

First, a Broncolor Unilight with a beauty dish and diffuser attachment gave me bright, soft, light with a sunlit feel. I placed the light above the subject at some distance and slightly behind. This gave me the defining, darker green reflection instead of a shadow. It clearly defines the tiny, textural surfaces of the blanket of blackberries. The ripple texture of the glass cutting board is picked up with soft, specular highlights.  To ground the berries in bright, uniform light

I added a second Broncolor Unilight strobe with a standard reflector centered below my glass table with an added layer of milky white Plexiglas. I angled the light downward into convex white sweep paper.


The sundrenched play of light across the moist surfaces of the berries and glass cutting board brought out their freshness and extended the studio environment closer to nature. The clearly defined shapes with its contrasting spring green ground gave it a quick, intimate read and scalability suitable for sustainable, commercial applications including advertising and food packaging, as well as cookbooks.


Duyff, Roberta Larson. American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, 3rd Edition. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006.

Huxley, A. New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan, 1992.

Nutrition Data. Nutrient Search Tool. 2011. Conde Nast Digital. 30 July 2011 <>.

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