Friday, April 27, 2007

Not food porn... more like food saltpeter

You know, I do take pictures of things other than my pets. It’s just that I’m such a crappy photographer, and the pets have that photogenic thing going on that will save just about any lousy picture, because they’re just so damned cute. And, OK, if I’m going to be really honest here, Jeff took most of the photos I’ve used for this blog anyway. Credit where it’s due; he has a good eye and a steady hand and the animals just plain act cuter for him.

I mean, I cook all the time, and I bake, I make these fancy-ass custom baked goods, but I cannot take a good food porn shot to save my soul. I have got to be the world’s worst food photographer. Part of the problem, I think, is that I do 90% of my cooking when it’s dark out, necessitating the use of the flash – and flash + food is just never very appealing. No matter how good dinner looks on the plate, no matter how pretty the cakes or cookies, they always look vaguely unsavory in my pictures.

Case in point: This cake I did for my dear friend, the wonderful artist Meridith McNeal. She has a terrific show up at Figureworks, in Williamsburg – it’s up through May 27, so all New Yorkers and those within a reasonable radius should go (yes, I know no one actually reads this blog, but I can dream) – and I agreed to bake her a cake for the party after the opening last month. A themed cake, of course, based on her artwork – so being basically a lazy girl I picked the simplest one, which turned out to be the piece she used for the mailer so rather than lazy I just looked clever. It’s good when that happens.

Here is her piece:

It’s a silhouette cut from vintage wallpaper, which doesn’t begin to do justice to its essential beauty and elegance but that’ll give you a little context, anyway.

And here is my cake:

It was chocolate, with chocolate raspberry frosting and a layer of raspberry jam in the middle. Over that I used a thin layer of egg white mousseline buttercream to color and decorate with, and then after a night in the fridge I cut a silhouette down to the chocolate frosting. It came out rather nicely, for a quickish labor-of-love job.

But see how lousy my picture is?

OK, granted, it’s not particularly well set off by the tablecloth, which was lovely in its own right but not as a backdrop. And there’s the flash factor. And the couple of glasses of wine factor. But still. I really need to figure out how to shoot food, especially my baked goods, just a bit better. Maybe I need a fancier camera, which isn’t gonna happen anytime soon… mostly I think I need to think a little harder about using what I’ve already got.

At any rate, I can always go back to taking pictures of the animals. Or using Jeff’s and taking credit for them. Maybe I’ll just get him to take my food photos.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Kitt said...

Funny, I just posted about food photos in dim light. The secret is to turn off the flash, set the shutter to "slow" ... a full second or longer, and use a tripod or brace the camera against the plate and use the self-timer.

My camera has a self-timer setting that if you hit it twice, it will take the photo about two seconds after you click the shutter, which means you focus, click, then hold the camera as steady as you can. It cuts down on the movement you create by clicking, if that makes sense.

In really dim light, even a second-long exposure is too short, but at least you can see the food.

2:43 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Ah, smart. I'll have to try that... no tripod, but I'm sure I can make do. Merci.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Susan said...

that is an amazing cake! and beautiful art. HEY I did not know you had a blog. I'm excited to explore it.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks, Susan! It's not exactly much of anything at the moment... I've yet to hit my blogging stride. Now that I have a couple of readers I might just have to produce.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Kitt said...

You produce, we'll consume. Wish I could taste that cake.

3:02 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Well... you are going to have a housewarming party, right?

4:14 PM  
Blogger Kitt said...

Indeed I am! Probably sometime in July. If the move doesn't kill me.

Come visit!

11:04 AM  
Blogger Kitt said...

If you don't post something, how can I justify my packing procrastination?

("When I've finished checking all my blogs, I'll go fill another box.")

11:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Yes, I know, I'm a shitty blogger. But I've got a long one coming up. So in the meantime, get packing!

7:00 AM  

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