Monday, January 9, 2012

DHSPC #5-Creamy Cauliflower Soup


The result

In case you didn't know, I am a total Donna Hay's fan, willing to spend $10 a month to get my hands on her magazine.  I just realized I missed last month's magazine, I think my local store stopped carrying it, I better find it soon as it has lots of cookies in the front.  I love her magazine and books, and I have cooked from them quite a bit, with great success.  Her cooking is simple, most recipes only have few ingredients, and are easy to make.  But more than anything I love the photos on her magazine, they make you drool, they make you want to become a food stylist and photographer, they make you want to bake.

I love Simone's DH styling and photography challenge, it pushes me out of my comfort zone.  Every month Simone, the author of the gorgeous blog Jungle Frog Cooking, has chosen something very different, not only as a food choice but as a study on styling and photography.  I actually participated to last month's challenge but I struggled with the pictures, run out of time because of the holidays,  so I never put up a post.  The recipe was really tasty, mini corn cakes with prosciutto and sage, to see the photos that were submitted check Simone's post.

This month I am early, getting it out of the way right away.  This month's challenge is a wonderful creamy cauliflower soup,  published in Donna Hay Magazine issue #51, which I don't have.    The soup was really tasty, and not too heavy, you can find a printable version in Simone's post. I only made a half batch and it was plenty for four people, maybe Australians are big eaters....  Below you can see the photo, shot by Ben Dearnley, that we were challenged to replicate.  The colors are beautifully dark, mostly black, the light comes from a 1:30 direction and doesn't seem to be bounced, so the bottom left, the opposite corner from the light, is pretty dark.  The styling is rather simple, but it highlights the light color of the soup and the delicious topping. 

The Challenge

Now for the creative process...I noticed that the light was coming from 1:30/2 o'clock, and it wasn't from a huge source, notice the white reflection on the bottom surface, the top left part is darker, how they did that I am not sure.  The light, which doesn't seem diffused, is reflecting on the black fabric,  on the top left corner, creating a whitish hue, something that I noticed other times I photographed black backgrounds, sometimes it ruins the picture, in this case it lighted the overall composition.   That gave me another clue on where the light came from.  The light looks natural to me, but impossible to know.  I have no clue on how they got that whitish patina on the photo, maybe they used a high ISO setting?   I will never know.

I was able to find all the right props in my house, incidentally I bought the black table set in December because I love dark moody photos so I wanted something really dark to showcase the food.




Below is a series of photos I took, all in manual mode, the camera was set on sun light, low ISO that were increased with the last photo to 400, and I used a tripod, with a 2 second delay so the camera wouldn't shake.    Big aperture was f5 (I can't go lower than that with my camera), and different shatter speed depending on the time of the day.


This picture was taken early morning, the light was bright, but the color were all wrong, and the light reflected too much on the soup and the spoon.  I decided to wait.  The angle of the camera was also wrong, too high.


Early afternoon,  sun was too high in the sky, it created even more reflection on the soup, something the original photo didn't have.  I decided to wait again.


Once the sun went being a big redwood tree I knew I hit the jackpot, however the camera read the new light differently and imparted a bluish hue.  I didn't change the camera settings, I just adjusted the color on i-photo.  The light was coming from the right direction but wasn't harsh any more nor created too much reflection.
 This picture was taken early morning, the sun was still really low and the same bluish hue was seen, I love it but it was not real nor close to the original photo.
















Simone would love if any of you joined this group so if you are inclined please follow this link for the how to.

12 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A great click and lovely soup! Great job.

Cheers,

Rosa

Laura said...

Thank you Rosa! I hope you join this month.

Junglefrog said...

Yeah! You're the first in!! And you;re post came through allright. I do have to approve every one of them otherwise we would be bogged down with spam links I'm afraid.. ;) Now I love your results. It's a bit bluer then the original but you've come pretty close.
If I had to pick I love the one you took in the morning even better. (even though it is too yellow) It showcases the soup in a different way and the light is warmer, more pleasing to the eye. That was not the challenge though..lol..
Do you ever work with a grey card in setting your color right? That way it makes it easier to achieve a neutral color or the color you're aiming for.
I love the shimmer on your soup. I want to dive in again (and yes, those quantities are pretty big aren't they? I divided it for 2 people and I had it for 2 days!)

Lisa said...

Oh, Laura...that cauliflower soup looks so creamy and comforting! Your photos are gorgeous..I hope you win or at least place in the photo challenge! Simone has an amazing eye..such a talented photographer! Now, did I forget to wish you a Happy New Year?? I got so bogged down, and 'blogged' down, I think I missed some very great blog friends like you. SO..Wishing you and yours the most wonderful, best 2012 ever! *hugs*

Laura said...

Simone, I adjusted the color in i-photo, making it less blue, maybe I could have pushed it a little bit more or try photoshop. I hate to do editing too much. It was fun to join as always.

Lisa, thanks! It is not the winning but the process, pushing me to figure out lighting and composition. I just realized I missed your new year's eve post, I have too many blogs I follow and sometimes I miss some great posts, like the virtual pot luck. Anyhow, happy new year to you too, I look forward to more inspiration from you.

Ilva said...

That looks very good, I actually prefer the first shot Simone though I think the DH light came from a lower angle than what you used Laura, the shadows in front of the soup on the lower left are pretty deep. I'm very impressed by your thorough presentations! I really hope to have the time to do this but I'm going back and forth to Milan for the rest of this month so I'm not sure...

Laura said...

Ilva, thanks for the feedback! Yes, the light was probably lower, however there was no way for me to have the same as I used natural light and it was pretty high still. I learned though, and that is what it is important. I hope you can join us. Grazie!

Magda said...

Good job! I agree with Simone, morning photo is my favourite. You came with very similar photo :)
i have a feeling that your photo is a little bit crooked (but I'm not an expert in this) and you can also see the slight soup line above the soup level. At a workshops we had at Irish Food Blogger meeting a food stylist told us that they pour a soup at a location when everything is set up and ready to shot. They often use funnels, or just clean it with a tissue.
I was about to take this challenge early this month, but I need to find some dark textile. And this weekend I was having still big pot of soup that needed to be finished. Goof you mentioned that portion is quite big, I don't think I could eat another soup for a week.
If you using DSLR you should use software provided with your camera to edit RAW photos or try Lightroom. They are so easy to use and you don't feel like editing, just correcting. A few clicks and it's done :)

Nicole said...

You did such a nice job with this. I especially love all your textures and the little extra sprinkle of cheese on top of the cauliflower adds a little something. I love that you held to the feel of the original, but added your own personalized touches. I have to admit going into this challenge that it looked like it was going to be really easy. It was harder than I expected. Already looking forward to the next one. Hope to see you on future challenges.

Laura said...

Magda, thanks for all your feedback. I didn't notice the line around the soup until you mentioned, lovely trick.

Nicole, thanks for stopping by. It was harder than I thought too, however I love the challenge and hopefully I will be able to keep joining.

Jenn said...

I think you did a wonderful job on this challenge! I think the styling is great, and loved reading about all of your different trials at different times of the day to find the right light - that is the hardest part about natural lighting I think - it's always so variable...

Aparna said...

Great photograph though I think I like the warm tones of the first one too.
Like Simone said, the blue-ish cast could be because of white balance issues. You could correct this a grey card, or in-camera WB settings or with software.

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