B & W Food Photography…….You have got to be joking !
Last Thursday at my local fresh food market, I bought some extra raw ingredients with the intention of experimenting with some food photography over the weekend.
By the time I finished yesterday, my tiny kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it !
No Kidding ! I was so tired of re-arranging the raw ingredients this way and that, in an attempt to do an introductory photo for the recipe I’m sharing. In the end I put a rug on the floor in front of my balcony doors in an attempt to get some natural light and the right colour I wanted to put my tray of ingredients on. You see I don’t have a little table or something suitable to put in the small space without moving furniture.
I think I’ll have to move some of my potted plants off my balcony onto part of the community garden and set up something outside so I can photograph in natural light. I love the way professional food photographers use sunny picturesque gardens & tables for their images. I love the way they harness natural light to make the food look totally delectable.
But I can see many instances where the actual ingredients can be successfully photographed in my dark flat. I just need to think about it some more. As you probably know by now, I am a perfectionist. I have my own personal ‘vision’ of how I want a photo to look and spend ages trying to get it right (to match my vision). Sometimes I have no control over how or when a bird or animal steps into my line of vision, or the weather affects the appearance of a flower. But food photography is a little more under my control.
Well, it will be by the time this coming summer is over. There’ll still be the usual bird, animal, flower, street photography, but hopefully in-between those posts will be the occasional food image.
I really do think you need a dedicated space for indoor photography (that’s bigger than my light box I made). My kitchen is dark (mostly) and the surfaces are pretty much old & worn out – but not in a nice interesting textured way. In a tacky 1960s yucky way. I rent my flat, so can’t do much to change this. I can only fill the frame with food and give the image the right light to photograph it. It’s not until the hotter weather or a very sunny day that my rented flat becomes flooded with light for a short couple of hours each day.
Out of 96 photos I shot yesterday, I ended up with 3. I tried every different ‘white balance’ setting on the DSLR. I tried the 50mm 1.4 lens as well as my favourite 18-200mm lens. The final 2 shots which I’ll share with the recipe in the next post were taken with the 50mm lens on the ‘sunny’ white balance on the dining room table, and on the ‘fluorescent’ white balance under the fluorescent lights over the kitchen stove. But I did try all the white balance settings in each location.
I converted the photo in this post to Black & White as I wasn’t satisfied with the white balance or colours (but I can assure you the recipe in the next post is in colour).
This post is the ‘making of the photo’. The next post is the result.
What I found most interesting is the way the final images show the tiny errors. It might be a tiny blob of sauce I spilt. I cut the bottoms off the two tomatoes to make them sit properly and discovered that many of my images had a tiny flap of tomato skin showing. The angle of the wine vinegar bottle & capers jar looked crooked. And so on……..
Remember that this is a Photography Blog, not a cookery blog, so in essence, the recipe is not important.
The recipe is Caponata Siciliana - one of my favourite sweet/sour summer recipes. Easy to cook, although your choice of which white wine vinegar you use & type of olive (or caper) can alter the taste of the end product. Like all good cooking, the ingredients DO matter.
The appearance, colour & aroma DO need to tickle the taste buds.
And in my opinion, the colour & size of your serving plate/bowl/cup etc enhance the pleasure of eating. Even on a frugal pension, I strive to make my food – plain as it is – look enticing. I didn’t have the appropriate baguette or toasted Italian Bread to put the Caponata Siciliana recipe on, so I had to photograph it in the cooking pan.
I don’t eat because I’m hungry. I eat the best fresh, tasty food for the sheer sublime pleasure of feeding my Body AND Soul.
(PS. I was also cooking a roast chicken and another recipe at the same time which explains most of the mess in my kitchen).