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