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I participate in many image challenges on Fine Art America, where I sell my art. The latest challenge was for images pertaining to vegetarianism. I debated on whether I should use vegetables fresh or cooked. Or maybe even try something with some of the meat substitutes. Instead, I decided to use uncooked beans and rice. I wanted to create images with a rustic feel like you are visiting an old general store where those items would be sold in bulk.


First I had to decide what type of background I wanted to use. Did I want to use a simple white background? Or something darker? Looking around my house, I noticed this old table that I was using for some other work. I had covered it with fabric because it is so scarred and rough looking. But I knew it would be perfect for this!


I had a bag of rice already. But did not have beans. So, until I could get beans, I decided to start simple with the rice. And while I wanted rustic, I also wanted something smooth and shiny for the container. I found two stainless steel compote dishes and this double handled cup.

The Light

My studio windows face east, so the morning light is intense and just fantastic. For a lot of my still life work, I use strobes. But I decided to use this great natural light for these. The light created a single line shadow from the window and then the shadow of the compote bowl in the rice images. Very simple yet eye catching and effective. The problem with natural light is that is not always consistent. There were mornings when the light was not quite right so I did use a strobe as a fill light for some of those.

A glass full of multi-colored beans spills out onto a worn wood table. The glass is lit from behind for a sunny glow
A glass full of multi-colored beans spills out


I had a debate with myself on the beans. I could not decide if I should just use dried pinto beans, which are a staple where I am from, or something different. While at the store, the fifteen bean mix practically threw itself into my cart! And I knew the black beans would look great on that table. The Anasazi beans actually came from a local country store called Pratt’s Country Store. I went in looking for honey and came out with these beautiful red and white beans. They actually have an interesting history.

Vintage Style

I wanted some of them to have a truly vintage look, so I finished them with a rough texture and a sepia tone. The image of the black beans is finished in simple black and white.

Thanks for visiting and reading about my beans and rice photo shoot! Stay tuned for images of the cooked items! All images are available for purchase. Visit my gallery or visit my pixels page.

My cat also enjoyed the rice.