Fall is Here and So Am I!

Or is it?? I am so glad to be back after what seemed like an eternity! To whomsoever has been keeping an eye, thank you ever so much for your patience. It is true, that blogging doesn’t take too much of creative juice, but for a person like me who is in a perpetual blender of varied activities it certainly needs a bit of shake up ever so often.

But wait! I have an excuse! Aha! Me and no excuse for my absence from a blog that deals with food pictures..no way. Not to rant a lot about it, I had to take some time out for my anatomy that literally went under the knife, and a surgeon’s knife at that. Unfortunately, the hangover took a little longer than I wanted it to take. But heck, that wasn’t up to me..right..so I know you guys will pass me on this too. One final time! PLEASE!

However, during the medical hiatus, I rediscovered my interest in the subject of food and drink photography in a completely new way. Learnt so much more by unlearning a bit. That my friends, is to be tried by all. If you feel saturated, do not fret..just desaturate your perspective and look at your work anew.

I’ve also managed to start on another pet project of mine which is to photograph people. In all their raw essence (pun!). I will blog about it at another corner, not sure how much I can regularly (but I did warn you about it, in the beginning, didn’t I? ;))

I’ve met some crazy clients too. Yes! yes! I’ve been busy with ‘client’ work. Many whom I can relate my craziness with and many just plain ‘ol crazy. However, in all of the springing back routines, I missed out on the first edition of the Indian Food Blogger’s Meet. I told myself it’s okay! Next year, it will only be better having taken care of the teething problems by the organizers.

I’m a little packed in with an exhibition I’m helping yet another client with and may not post over this weekend but there are some images I definitely want to share on my continuous learning path. For now, leaving you guys with a quick image (an outtake from another shoot subject) for it’s a sweet comeback! Happy Weekend. See you soon, I’m alive and will be kicking up a storm! :D

Pastel Pasties

Pastel Pasties

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Howdy!!

Guess who’s back!! All springy and back to the blog-o-spehere. How have you all been? I’ve been away..obviously..for the longest time and if you ask me honestly, even I didn’t think it would take me so long to be back. I did know I will, but “when” was the question. Sometimes, you need to take a step back, charge your mind cells up a bit and take it easy. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Just taking it easy on myself. For those of you, who have been around and waited patiently, a big heart-felt thank you!

I know it’s almost 3 months into the New Year and fortunately for me, my biggest resolution so far has stuck. That of not “over-committing” and when it comes to this blog, I’m precisely doing that. I did feel a little caught up initially when I started out. “To Keep Up”. However, not only dif I feel pushing myself unneccesariy, but found myself running out of solutions to fix it. Starting out with a month’s layoff..it’s just turned out to being almost a 6 month break! I’ve sorted those issues and I’m now going to go a bit slow. I’m really not one of those hooked on to blog-writing. It’s just not me. But, I find it more relaxing to post once-in-way rather than getting all stressed out about it. I want it to be happy, I want it to be a pleasurable experience. For you, for me as well. What it eventually stopped being, sometime back. Now that I’m back, after this break..I’ve decided to post maybe once in a week instead of daily about not only about photography but about the general experience.

During the time I took off from writing this, I scoured the internet and came upon many blogs/sites that discuss food photography and the many topics they discuss and I did notice something very peculiar..at least in about 90-95% of the cases. Most start with a big bang..posting pictures and talking about setups. Somewhere, after a month, two months..they end just as abruptly. And mind you, it’s not because there’s nothing more to talk. Of course there is..as you all know photography is an ever-learning process and food photography and ever-challenging subject so there is really no, end. Most people who start out to teach others in this area, are either from the f&b industry or started out as bloggers and have elevated their positions enough to attract assignments or they are just busy with their other lives and this for them, is a medium of relaxation. Well, that’s all fine! Till one fine day, it starts to become more of a chore. Food photography even for blogging for that matter, is quite a time consuming affair and trust me if you are not in the frame of mind, just don’t even attempt! Not even to save your readers list. The really interested people will stick around. Other’s were just in on the bandwagon. And, so the blog suddenly ends, the genuine followers are left wondering “what happened, this was perfect” and “where do I go from here next”. I’m quite sure there might be enough reasons to stop blogging..millions of it..but in most cases in trying to cope with the race, we tend to lose the very idea of having started it. A quiet private (er, not so private) escape. Finally, the so-called food photography blog, boils down to just recipes and images. Sounds familiar? Ya..to me as well. That kind of hit a cell for me and I didn’t want to fall prey to it. SO, I’m going to pull those breaks and enjoy the experience instead of being  slave to it. I don’t know, how much I will be able to pull it along myself..and I’ve said that, right at the beginning of this journey, but if I can keep a steady momentum, irrespective of the little breaks in-between, that in itself will be an accomplishment. Another, word of caution, I don’t give out recipes for images of prepared food. You’d probably find that in about million other blogs, preparing the same dish (ultimately it’s all the same, it’s just that the language is different. Unless you happen to stumble upon a truly ingenious dish prepared by blogger which you will not find anywhere else..but try google first ;), if your search brings you back to the author, hey! that’s a find! And most likely those bloggers might be real world chefs in disguise or just truly experimental with what their palates can bear)! All Food Bloggers are NOT Food Photographers just by virtue of wanting to sharing their anscestral recipes visually). Some will be better than others, for sure. But Food Photography is a totally different field of art/or science…and many get that mixed up. I’m not professing to be one, through this blog either. My aim is to learn along with you, to improve my skills and share it as I go. My aim is to be a “Food Photographer”, not a Food Blogger who is good with their food images. So, shall we start talking Food Images?? :D

Basket of Onions

To start things back, I’m going to keep the imagery simple. This is more like a “Before And After” shot. The image above, is straight out of the camera (SOOC) and for me by itself, I like it a lot. Apologies, for the watermark, apparently images are getting pilfered off the blogs as well, now. I certainly have taken a LONG break! :D

Now, I do have a ‘fancy camera’, with all the ‘fancy accessories’, and although I did shoot with that big toy, this image, right here..was taken with a point and shoot to shoot the setup. But I liked this image so much, I just decided to go with it for post to also demonstrate that, people looking to take good pictures, can do so with a bit of understanding of the tools they possess. As mentioned, SOOC with the following settings;

aperture: f/3.5  I  shutter: 1/15 (handheld) I iso: 200 I focal length: 24.1mm (my fancy camera didn’t give me that distance..since i don’t have such a fancy lens :p) time taken: 15:34hrs. in India and most importantly the light source : available daylight (yes, you got to believe it! see the source of light shot and space it was done in, below)

Onion Setup

The first word, crammed! Yes, that’s is actually a space which was recently done and it just contains the stairs up to the upper level of the house. What I like about the light falling through that window is that it is not directly falling on the subject. It hits the wall at the landing and by the time it reaches back at the onion basket, it gets diffused. Warmed. To help open a little bit of shawdows on the right hand side, I setup a piece of foam-core. So, for most of you who thought it was a window on the left-hand side, guess it was! A bigger source of light (a white wall). So, a bit of physics..says, yes, the light is reflected at the same angle opposite to what its coming from. (Now for all you science geeks, you know  a better way to explain that, don’t you?) Not that I really went into so much of detail, I just liked the whole way the onions were lit up through the viewfinder. I realised the “formula” only later! Trust me!

Again, as mentioned earlier, I like the image as it is. It can be used for a multitude of requirements. However, I went a step more to see if adding a bit of spices (in post-process), might give me a different result. And yes, it did! See below..

Adding some elements

Which one you like better, is a matter of personal preference. To me, both are nice, both are adaptable for different usages. And guess what, there might be more options that can be added which I haven’t even explored. A quick note, you don’t have to have the same space..NO! You don’t have to have the same light..NO! You experiment with what you have and choose what you like as an end result…YES!! Many will like your thought behind it, many won’t. WHAT DO YOU LIKE??

I’ll outline what I did here in post-process. I used Lightroom 3.6, but if you have a newer version of Photoshop (CS and its many numbers) you can play around with almost the same effects..just labelled and positioned differently. By effects, I mean values and not those extra nifties you will find in Photoshop’s pull down Effects Menu. Normally, you will find exact terminology and develop dialogue box with RAW files if you import them into PS first..as you will in Lightroom. However, you may not be able to do this with .jpegs alone (especially if you have a point and shoot). Lightroom gives that little extra leeway with those .jpegs. by giving you the same control as a RAW file would. But, do remember, any change you do make to a .jpeg file, will effect it’s final output quality and hence make sure, to use the highest quality setting available in your camera, even for .jpegs.

I will not be mentioning the exact numbers I used with each value for the ‘after’ image, just because it will really depend on the initial capture and again on what you want the final image to look at. But for starters, I will tell you the values I worked on from the control panel. Foremost what I applied was a pre-set called “bleach bypass” (comes with Lightroom but needs to be installed as a plug-in in PS), and I started out from there. I think that’s a safe way to go. If your editing software provides you with a number of presets, start with that and tweak the values as you like. Though, it’s not mandatory. I just went with it, in this case.

After having a rough canvass to start with, I played around with the following: Clarity, HSL (Hue.Saturation/Lumonosity), Tone Curve (Highlights/Shadows), White Balance, Blacks, Vibrance, Sharpness (Detail). I just ran the sliders Left to right till what I felt was closest to my vision. I then imported in PS, to re-size (or crop) and finished it a little more with the “Levels” slider (Cntrl L in Windows). That’s it. Against a black background, it looks swell! :D

I like the texture of the concrete..that’s all over the floor in the stair room. It gives a mild look of mud. I should have probably cloned out a few of those gaps…but I was so intent on just leaving things as natural as possible..and I was also excited with the final image, I wanted to load it up. (Oh, btw..another thing that’s taking a bit of importance in my life, is that I’m working on my first ever sole Food Portfolio! Single subject. No other fillers !)

So that’s it for now, folks! The ‘come-back’ post, has been pretty long. I’ll probably just get straight to the images in the following ones, whenever that will be. Please do feel free to leave your thoughts and comments. I do read each one of them and the whole point is to not only appreciate your visit, but to be also learn from anything you might want to contribute. Equally, it becomes easier to stop by your site as well and develop a keen and mutually beneficial blogging experience. And honestly, the more I hear from you..the more I will be motivated to put stuff out…the less breaks I might take ;).

Cheers and go take some photos!

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A Rainy Day and Some Apple Pie

At-last I finally got down to blogging! After a huge gap of almost a month. Unlike I had forseen when I wrote my last! I had been quite stressed at my work place. And as much as I would like to rant about it, I’m going to keep it clean and healthy here. At least the talk, ;)! I love to organize events and execute large weddings or simple seminars but when people whom you call ‘team’ don’t team up..it gets dirty and messy. I’ve decided, I will work for myself. I take the risk of funding my fancy whinings at my own costs and accountability. If I can’t make the money, then there’s no honey either..simple! Ha!! I’m glad, I’m done deciding. Now for some food for the stomach and heart as well.

At times, I keep thinking of what to prepare for the blog so as to explain many processes and setups. Lately, though, I’ve just been doing a lot of free-hand camera work with available light (read natural light) or whatever little there is of it. It hasn’t rained during the monsoons as much as it is raining now and with a cloud cover that refuses to move on..it’s been a little bit of a slow-down for photography. BUT! It doesn’t keep me sitting on my butt! It is at times like this that I just set out and bake on a whim instead of planning too much. Result – a yummylicious apple pie..never before tried at home! And I am very happy with the outcome of my first attempt at what initially seemed to be an overwhelming process.

Which takes me to a very essential part of photography as well. It is definitely important to get a technically correct picture but it is equally important to present it well. There is a fine line between too many props and too little. Does it clutter the frame or does it look to drab? Showcasing just the dish can be made to look interesting if it is placed well and lit well. The importance of the technicals cannot be undermined since it is the beginning and end of the frame. Most of mine work concentrates on the main dish with very minimal use of additional props yet it works. There are many photographers and food bloggers who bring in other secondary elements to give a hint of the table or ingredients used in the dish and that’s okay as long as they use a bit of caution and not ‘over-prop’ and take the viewer away from the focal subject.

Here the focus was on the apple sliced arranged in a pattern. The redness of the apple has been balanced with the white of the chopping board used merely in the frame as a surface and to give it a bit of height. Although I’m a bit late for Aparna’s exercise no:4  on food photography, it works well for that post, as it’s about only one ingredient. This image also can be placed in the “less is more” category as trying to add more props to this frame would have just made the frame a bit too busy considering the angle it was taken from, the pattern that takes centre-stage and the completely off-focus background.

Once, I got done preparing the apple marinade and pastry crust ( I seem to have also overcome my initial anxiety about making short crust pastry. this is probably the third time in quick succession and guess what, I didn’t have to look up the recipe book!yay!), I just filled in the pie-shells and decided that I’d do a triptych style presentation of them. As is seen below. Note that in each of these three photographs, there are no additional props, as the size of the subject is pretty dominant. I could have added more props such as whisk, perhaps a scale but then my choice to do a triptych would have been passed over.

And, yes of course, I know all of you are waiting to see what I did when the pie came out of the oven. I could have laid a pristine table complete with a tea pot, some fine china with a piece of the pie on it and added some cream as a topping. NO! I didn’t do any of this. First my reason was since it was a single crust pie..it was a bit rustic in it’s look. And although it would have still sit pretty with the china..I wanted a more in-your-face straightforward look to it. So, here’s the final image of the series. The cooling rack adds to the cottagey – feel to the pie which is most commonly associated with the farm lot anyway. I let it sit in the pie tin to give it an additional at home and cozy look. The presentation works by showing part of the circle instead of a complete round and this also gives the frame a little more space to breathe to the right..where I have added my watermark. A complete slice of apple gives enough clue about the preparation. Simple, clean and clear. I am including two more simple compositions but since it’s filling the whole frame..there is no need for additional props other than what is presenting it and defining the item’s outer lines, giving it a fair amount of depth and separation from it’s background. I also included some text in post-process to give it a magazine approach. This cuts down on the viewer’s eye going towards any negative space that might be in the composition. Backdrop is but a glimpse to add to the depth and make it not seem that the canapes were just pasted on a grey canvas.  Feel free to experiment. I too am learning along with you and I will also be trying out more options in presenting food. Incase you’ve noticed though..I like to keep it simple ;)

Cheers and have a fabalous week ahead. I’m definitely going to try making it to Aparna’s exercise at least this month. :)

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A Pinch of Correction

Good Day, everyone! What’s happening in your blog land?? I’ve been quite caught up in work this month and although when I initially started this August, I was quite confident I’ll be able to post more often, I had to go back to the burner for a bit. Cooking/baking suddenly ground to a halt and sleepless nights and overtime at work took precedence. Neverthelss, I had a quick trip with a photography club to a very scenic place in Kerala (South India) and am finally feeling a bit rested after a nice hot meal at home and a good night’s sleep.

I do notice, I’m sounding quite serious in my last few posts..guess the funny bone has had a fracture and is re-couping at some undisclosed location. I’m quite confident it will be back soon..so until then watch Achmed at his satirical best but keep Silence! or he’ll Kill You :D, it’s just too funny! Lol! It’s such a riot to watch and listen. Really want to join a few friends over some standup..but alas..income earning..hours..I’m sure my funny bone is having fun somewhere..hmm..jealous!

Okay, to move on with some tips this weekend. In one of my earlier posts I had mentioned how important a role colors play in the visual medium. It makes the reader either swoon over and hungry to go and get that product/ dish or turn that person off completely. In the following image, a friend of mine had sent me an image of a dish she made and put together. I’m one for food for sure, but the heavy yellow cast looming over the image does not (in my opinion) add much to my visual taste. She is certainly not into professional photography and simply wanted to tempt me into her cooking..hence just sent me a quick shot.

I took the liberty to play around a little in my image editing software (primarily being Photoshop and LightRoom) and tried to give you an idea of where to begin a simple post-process work flow.

First, here are the images for a side by side comparison.

Both photographs: Exposure Program: Undetected, Aperture: f/5.3, Shutter Speed: 1/15secs, ISO: 1600, Focal Length: 44mm,

Lens: Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, Camera: Nikon D5100

Since, the focus is off a little (ideally should have been on the area at the top of the leg), the color cast adds to the dullness of the image. Here in all likelyhood, every day home lighting was used. CFL flourscent lighting. Thankfully, the hard on-camera flash had been turned off. How do I know all this without being physically present..well..that’s why these stats are embeded into the meta data of the image which can be read using the command File – File Info  (in photoshop). Open an image, go to File on the menu bar and scroll down to File Info. Most pictures contain this information and hence, it’s an absolute must to save all your original files in a separate folder. Once you edit, type in text or make any changes in size and color, the image saved will not contain these details and will be difficult to refer to at a later date.

This initial image was saved as .jpeg image and touching up the image too much will, result in a sharp loss in quality..again as a reminder..those of you with the convenience of saving your original file as a RAW image in-camera, irrespective of the brand you have (please refer to your camera manual to set the file type to RAW especially in dSLRs), please do so!

My main objective to process the image was to reduce the heavy yellow cast. Now, unless you add turmeric to your spaghetti most pastas cooked are white. With that as a starting point..I first went clicked Cntrl + Shift + L (Windows) and with that the initial yellowish red haze was removed. Then I clicked Cntrl + B and the Color Balance Dialogue window opened. There in I started sliding all the color slides up and down for all the three fields (Shadows, Midtones and Highlights) till I got a fair amount of white and less of yellow. Since the end result is heavily dependent on the photographer’s final vision, you might like any setting. Hence, I’m not giving any specific numbers to set it at. When I was considerably happy with the white-ness that followed, the next important element for me to adjust was the saturation. Trying to fill in light artificially resulted in a heavy red saturation in the Chicken’s leg. With it’s glossy texture, it was not very appealing. After clicking Cntrl + U, I chose the picker in the dialogue box and clicked on the surface of the chicken. Holding the picker down, I simply slid to the left. Automatically, the saturation levels also reduced in the saturation dialogue box. If you think you are unable to hold down and slide the picker tool, simply click on the chicken area and manually slide the ticker in the dialogue box. Again, once you are happy, close the window. I was quite content with the result and the final thing I decided to add artificially was to increase the sharpness of the leg. This I did by going to Effects – Sharpen – Unsharp. This is a smart tool to sharpen the foreground subject from the background. Again play around till you get what you like. However, a small piece of advice. Use this tool with absolute caution. There is a thin line between natural and overdone. And the more you sharpen, more noise in the image will also come to the fore. Hence, be careful and not carefree..in this case. :)

Although, there is much change from the initial file, there is still a heaviness in the image overall..and that can be fixed only at the time of shooting a picture. No matter how good you are at Post-process, if you don’t get your exposure and focus accurate in the first instance, it’s not going to help later. There will always remain an area of wanting.

I used the new picture over an image I pulled from Google to create a mock dummy for a package of chicken legs. Let me know, what you guys think?

And a quick shout-out to my dear friend, I’m coming over for a meal..happy cooking ;)

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Diptychs and Triptychs

It’s the sixth of the month and it’s also the second post of the month. Nice, to have enough to talk about within a span of less than one week..it’s quite commendable (by my standards and if I have to say so myself :p)! Super, but let’s not get all excited, lest I leave rest of the month all bare. Hehehe.

We first spoke of the term DIPTYCH here and that’s what I’m going to talk to you a little more about. As I have already mentioned a series of photographs put together to tell a story is what makes a Diptych and two to be exact about the number. Triptychs contain 3 as the first three letter indicate.

Okay, so..it’s a very straightforward concept. When it comes to food photography, these can be very useful tools to tell the story of the dish being prepared or as one of the examples I have included, it can be used to give the viewer two or three different perspectives of the same dish.

Here the image shows off the contents inside of the tart shell and also how it would look at eye-level. I have included the technical details of the image here.

Yesterday was quite hectic at home. Along with some ‘Fall-Cleaning’ of the house, my mother (almost a regular passive participant here now :)) decided to try her hand at baking some Indian savory tea-time snacks. We had been discussing making these for quite sometime but unless it’s done spontaneously, it keeps getting pushed. On the spurt of the moment, we put the things together from a recipe which I found at this blog. Shweta does a wonderful job at explaining how this made so easily at home and she also has some step-by-step instruction photos as well. Ha! Another good use for dips and trips (pun intended)! Here in a three step Triptych I show how the samosas looked just before it went into the oven, while it was being baked and finally hot off it.

They make stand-alone images as well as tell a small story when put together. Setup, if you ask me was barely minimal. Natural window light, wide open aperture with a 50mm lens and a steady pair of hands so as to capture the image at between 1/15 – 120sec shutter speed. ISO was high at 800, but because enough light managed to come in..noise in the image is not very visible. Images with such techniques are quite plentiful to find across the net to give you an idea what all purposes they are used even within Food Photography.

Here’s still another example. Here’s combining two images. One of a fully prepared dish. Another of the key ingredient used. Variations are multiple so have fun and experiment. A combination of a close-up and far off shot are also good uses. Try, try..it really is very simple.

Olan – A traditional South – Indian vegetarian dish made with Cowpeas and coconut milk and tempered with green chillies and curry leaves

I know, I know.. I seem to be on a trip of laying out my images in a book style presentation, lately. But hey, like I said, options are immense for learning, one never knows what more one can learn from doing something new. Until next and hopefuly soon..Cheerios! The cheesy variety!

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File Recipe No:1

Hello!!! I’m back after a month long hiatus! Yes, yes. There’s lots that happened over the last month and I’m quite ecstatic about one very encouraging milestone! I dropped the kilos and have reached my ideal two digit number!! Yaa..y! I’m all set to drop another four, so that once the rigorous regime is tapered down gradually, even if I do put back some, I can still maintain my ideal weight! Phew..I feel so much more light! So that was one big moment. But wait..here’s the funny bit. My Mother says, (oh! welcome back, mommy), Food Photography seems to be injurious to my wieght control not for any other reason but the food that is prepared to be shot need to be also consumed instead of being trashed. That definitely is not happening! And from my little expedition,  I seem to be photographing more of desserts and flour based items!! DANGER!! To whom?? My palette craves and so does my heart..be it a for a mug of cake or a lemon curd tart!

Another very motivating news! I don’t know if  I initially mentioned anything about a home office makeover project I was wanting to begin with! Well, if I didn’t earlier, I just did now! Heheh! The biggest hurdle was to have a lot of junk trashed out. And after months and weeks trying to find some one to bring a vehicle to have it cleared out…it got done!!!!!!!!!!! That was a double treat for me on 29th..just to close a slow starting month! And how does August begin?? August begins with my image on the calendar! Yes, yes..I finally have my few minutes of fame.

So, all in all I’ve been waiting for August!!

After a few hectic days of being out in the sun on work, added to early mornings of intensive workout sessions at the gym, I finally got some much required rest last Sunday. Earlier in the week, mother and daughter decided to bake but as the week progressed daughter was expecting to do a 7 day week, but a small change in one of her client’s schedule gave her a day off. Without much on the mind, after waking up in the morning, and starting out a bit lazily, I suddenly thought of doing some baking. After so many days of hesitation and procrastination of wanting to try my hand out a basic pie crust dough..I pushed myself to just go ahead! And go ahead I did! When I was told that my mother already had a file from her baking course..stacked some where in a book shelf that needed more dusting than any other part of the house..I jumped up and grabbed it, dust et all..to see what treasures hid in between those yellowing pages. And VOILA! There was everything I always used to surf for on the internet. Basic Pie Crusts, baked and chilled. Pie Fillings..including the very lemony lemon curd, profiteroles, choux pastry for eclairs and basic puff pastry and various fillings for the same..I didn’t just find a whole file of recipes from a baking course. I found a a master skill that was not being tapped, a skill of a mother that was buried once children and husband became utmost priority!! A gush of nostalgia hit me. All those days, when we had an endless supply of bread, cakes, pies and desserts…all kind of Indian savory snacks and accompaniments such as the wonderful array of chutneys..innumerable bottles of ketchup, even more in number juices and jams..it all was made by my mom! And then..life became more complicated. Two of her children grew up and started having issues that needed to be sorted. Husband’s career and occupation demanded more of her time in attending to his social obligations. Gradually, she buried her own self..skills and dreams to nurture those of her family. Mom!! I’m so proud to be your daughter. I don’t know, if you will be as proud of me.

If a piece of pie can evoke such sentiments..I challenge myself to make a dish a day or a week from that file and at least give back to her a bit of what she has done for all of us. Endless arguments of starting a bakery/ or taking culinary classes has now given me a reason to learn on my own and at least prep to own a small diner. Be it a small simple one..it will be my mother’s one dream come true. Of spreading her hospitality to a greater number of people.

At the time, I started enjoying baking (desserts to begin with), I never thought, perhaps one day along with my passion for photography..it might be a calling of some sort to reach a wider audience and to be able to giving back to my mother all that she has done for us so unconditionally.

So, recipe no:1 starts! Lemon Curd Tarts!

I waited quite patiently, when I set my eyes on this beautiful lemon growing in our garden, to include it in a dessert, rather than just in a salad. I’ve always had a taste for a bit of tanginess in most of my food..be it in any cuisine. I absolutely love a fresh cold glass of lemonade and my all-time favorite has to be lemon sorbet. When I started hearing about Lemon Chiffon Cakes and Lemon Muffins..I used to drool over countless images over the net but never took to making any. Finally, I tried these Muffins, I simply wanted more! Lime or lemon..I must have it in any form, shape, color or taste!

At the time, I decided to test out the Lemon Curd Tart Recipe, this lemon had turned ripe yellow and was picked. Perfect! Everything was freshly, home made and baked. All the required ingredients were also readily available. And thus, a very satisfying journey began.

There’s not much here to talk about setups..but more of experience and the whole sentiment attached to it. It was a bright sunny day..the power was steady and constant and there was nothing to stop me from being indulgent.

The basic pie base came out to the Tee. The only glitch that I made was to not prick it. The center of one did not rise and it formed a very nice cave. But even though the center of the others did rise.. there was no change in its lovely flaky flavor. The curd was also of just the right consistency. Not too thin nor too thick. Once, it set together in the fridge..it was a treat like no other! I already miss them so much but am confident I can repeat a batch with the same great taste.

Exposure Program: Manual, Exposure Mode: Manual, Shutter Speed: 0.5 secs, Aperture: f/5.6, ISO: 100, Focal Length: 50mm, Metering: Matrix, Lens: Nikkor 50mm, f/1.8, Camera: Nikon D90

Once, it came out of the fridge I tried my hand at a bit of styling. But to show that styling and perspective can make a lot of difference, this is the immediate shot I took at first.

Exposure Program: Manual, Exposure Mode: Manual, Shutter Speed: 0.5 secs, Aperture: f/3.5, ISO: 200, Focal Length: 50mm, Metering: Spot, Lens: Nikkor 50mm, f/1.8, Camera: Nikon D90

For the next image, all I did was to place two of these tarts on an upside down black tray to give it a bit of a height and definition from the background. This setup I placed out in open shade. And took the shot just under the 90 degree angle which we spoke about in our previous post here. After importing the RAW file into Adobe, all I then needed to finish the image was to slightly bump up the blacks which brought about some saturation and vibrancy to the lemon curd colors. That’s it. Here’s the finalized image, which is one of my favorite ones from the series.

Exposure Program: Manual, Exposure Mode: Manual, Shutter Speed: 1/30 secs, Aperture: f/5.6, ISO: 400, Focal Length: 50mm, Metering: Spot, Lens: Nikkor 50mm, f/1.8, Camera: Nikon D90

Notice how the powdered sugar is getting soaked into the curd. Aah..blame it all on the moisture in the air. I had to really play fast here. Here’s what one calls a diptych of two more images from the series. All it means is it a series of two images that tell a story. If it has three, then it’s called a triptych. Hopefully I’ll continue with my baking/cookery escapades a little more this month than last. Especially from ‘The File’.  Until then, here’s another version I experimented a bit with the layout and presentation. Many thanks for stopping by. Do tell me, which one you liked best! Cheers! and have a fabulous month.

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Filed under Delights

A View From Above

Hey, hey, hey! A week exactly after July 4th! So much for my foresight! :)

How are you guys? I’m very excited about today’s post, not because I’ve managed to sign much earlier than last time, because it’s exercise time again. Oh, yes. Thanks to Aparna’s initiativve with the photography bit on her blog My Diverse Kitchen, I’m trying to at least stick to all the projects. To be really honest, I haven’t been clicking much recently because of my event engagements, which I like to pursue as well, and although this time’s exercise is quite an easy task..I’ve slackened up a bit and am posting some earlier images of mine.

Also, I’m just not being able to give the blog more time than I would like but nevertheless have the assurance that I will keep this going. I have managed so far, which in itself is quite unexpected by my own lazy standards (lazy to use the writing muscles). I’m happy. As the saying goes, a drop of water can make a mighty ocean..a post at a time can make a postbook :p (what a poor analogy)!

Alright, the pleasantries all done, lets get to the more visualy appealing part. As per the project exercise, this week’s theme is bird’s eye view or simply shot from above the plated dish. It could be in a bowl, so don’t start panicking about it being ‘plated’. You get the idea..just get to it!

I have a few submissions for this topic, one not only because I tend to take a lot of images from this perspective (also called the 90 degree shot or the aerial view) but I like the way certain types of food capture better from this point. Especially, if they happen to be Indian style breads, lentils, soups, etc. basically those dishes that are not layered or doesn’t have much height. Think pancakes. However, if you go through Aparna’s images on the same topic, you’d notice how cleverly she’s stacked the salt crackers and still shown a layer technique shot from above. That’s something I’d love to experiment and try on my own.

So, to begin with, a simple image of some orange slices, placed very randomly and without any forethought. However once I picked up the camera to shoot this, I found the orange a bit too overwhelming in the low light and all I did to break the monotony was to introduce the green of a kafir lime. That’s another topic to be covered altogether and I’m quite sure it will pop up soon but for now, just played around with different placements of the lime and found this as a good option. The brown mat underneath balances the overall image with its earth tone.

The technicals were: Exposure Program: Manual, Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority ISO: 400, Shutter Speed:  1/4secs, Aperture: f/8, Metering: Center Weighted Average,

Focal Length: 48mm, Lens: Nikkor VR 18-105mm, Camera: Nikon D90

Notice here the ISO has been kept high and since I chose aperture priority of f/8, the camera’s shutter speed was automatically set to 1/4, which makes hand-holding a tad difficult. But I still did and there was a slight blur to the image. Hence, with a bit of post-processing I salvaged the image by giving it an abstract appearance. Job done! :) :)

The next two are my all time favorite. Can there be more than one all time favourite?? Hmm..One wasn’t staged while the image with the chillies was but was not part of the initial plan. I’ll explain. Here’s what I had for lunch once.

Exposure Program: Manual, Exposure Mode: Manual, ISO: 100, Shutter Speed: 1/60secs, Aperture: f/1.8, Metering: Pattern,

Focal Length: 50mm, Lens: Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D, Camera: Nikon D90

Everything about this image is simple and just came together. I guess I should be capturing more of my simple lunches.. ;) when things don’t need so much of an effort. And trust me, for the hottest summers, it just tastes so right as well! Give it a shot, both via your camera and for the tastebuds. Wish, I had posted this for the Less is More concept. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll find a whole lot more ‘From Above’ pictures in due course! An image captured and exported straight off camera, except for the watermark addition and a slight extra blur to the mat. Given a focal length of 50mm and a wide open aperture, lots of light ensured the background went into off-focus quite a bit before adding a pinch extra!

And now, the piece de resistance, if I may say so myself! Chuckles.

Exposure Program: Manual, Exposure Mode: Manual, ISO: 4o0, Shutter Speed: 1/80 secs, Aperture: f/1.8, Metering: Spot,

Focal Length: 50mm, Lens: Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D, Camera: Nikon D90

Yup! That’s one with a trump card. And I say this because this was not the initial setup. The initial setup included a variety of hard spices and oil. After getting my shots for those, I was clearing up the prep table and all but the chillies were put away. In this staged image, I had placed a white plastic cutting board for enough light to be thrown up. When, I saw the red chillies against the white, I had an immediate idea to set a very oriental composition inspired by the shape of the chilly itself. Quickly rummaged the kitchen to find an appropriate enhancer and found this soup spoon fit the detail best. Diffused light came in from top and behind the subject, had a foam core board placed on top (hand-held) to open up the shadows inside the spoon since it has an edge. Corrected for whites in post-process although I did over-expose the image and the use of negative space came to the forefront rather satisfactorily! Apart from the color, composition, minimal style (all elements contribute to general photography principles as well), I just love the feel. All in all, happiness! What do you guys think??

Before I sign out, a quick shout to all those who’ve been stopping by my site and supporting the post by liking them. I appreciate your appreciation and would love to hear your comments as well. Please feel free to put in your two cents and a dollar too, if you care to ;)! Happy happy July days!

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Filed under Main Course