The Race for the Light

When you think of the Kentucky Derby, what do you think of? Correct. Alcohol. Oh sure, there's also women in big hats, lots of money, great food and something about horses. When I hear about the Kentucky Derby, my mind immediately wonders to Mint Juleps.

This spirituous concoction dates back to at least the early 1800s. But, just before WWII, the Kentucky Derby started serving it's occupants Mint Juleps.

I decided to get into the act, too.

2 cups sugar2 cups water

A "bushel" of fresh mint

Kentucky bourbon; let's not be silly and do whisky

Crushed ice

Boil sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool slightly and place in container with eight springs of lightly "bruised" mint. Refrigerate at least three hours (overnight is best).

Make one julep at a time by pouring 1 tablespoon of mint syrup for every 2 ounces of bourbon over crushed ice. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the glass and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Here in Boston, we had a very stormy day. The morning was bright and sunny, but towards the afternoon, deep thunderheads appeared and the skies opened up.

This presented an issue with the images I had in mind for my Juleps - and if you're going to do Juleps, today is the day, no waiting. I wanted bright and sunny, outdoors, airy and a couple sweaty glasses. Instead, as it thundered and flashed outside, I had to reproduce the feeling, indoors.

One of the key principles in photography, is not only how to see the light, but also how to bend it to your will. I wanted a picnic table under an apple tree on a hot spring day feel, and I was determined to get it!

I set up my table right near a south facing window and the only other tool, a large 60" Brella, was set up in the back of the room, high in the ceiling corner. My plan was to bounce the strobe light and pretend that very very soft light was the light coming at me as I shot my juleps from under a tree.

My exterior natural light measured 1.5s at 50iso. As I was on a tripod, this was an acceptable speed. I could have sped up the shutter, but that would have meant raising my iso, which I did not want to do, as it introduced noise into the equation.

I set my flash to f5.6, to measure the output of my strobe and set my shutter to a half stop below the outside ambient reading to give it a more realistic feel.

They were delicious, and I might have another later!

By the way, did anyone win any money today?