Pasta, on its own, is not the most inspiring of subjects for food photography. Whether dried or fresh, pasta tends not to have a great amount of detail or texture. Getting in close with a macro lens does open the subject up, you start to see micro detail, a dusting of flour livens uncooked pasta up and provides more detail.
With cooked pasta, photographing while steaming hot can again liven up the scene, a small amount of parsley or black pepper can again add to the detail.
The thin slightly translucent nature of pasta also lends itself to backlighting, where the tones of the pasta and the glow of the backlighting show themselves. It is also a cheap subject, dried pasta, dark background and boiling water on a tabletop studio. Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes so most stores have a good selection of varieties to choose from.
For these images, the lighting consisted of one softbox with daylight fluorescent lamp to the right and backlighting provided by a single Speedlight set on low power.
The fresh tagliatelle image looked quite flat on the first images, a light dust of flour provided extra detail and texture which was picked up with the lighting well. Concentrating on the uncooked pasta first allowed me to play around with the lighting without worrying about pans of boiling water.
In manual mode, I used the lowest ISO I could with the images, to minimise noise, varying apertures were used depending how much of the scene I wanted to focus on.
After the uncooked pasta, I turned to capturing some cooked, steaming pasta. I set up a fork suspended in the air by taping it to the top of canned veg!.
I boiled the pasta in water but removed from the water before it was fully cooked. Now here is the tricky bit, getting the pasta twirled around a fork is not as easy as it seems, it slides off easily and has a mind of its own.
With the intention of capturing steam, my first few attempts failed as by the time I managed to get the pasta on a fork, it had cooled and the steaming stopped. Keeping the fork straight and tilting the pan was the answer. Once securely on the fork, the pasta was dipped briefly back into the boiling water then quickly set up and captured while still steaming.
The steam does not last long and several images were fired off in succession to capture the variations.Some dried parsley was also used on the pasta t give it a little more detail.