Pizza Friday and Tips on Food Photography

Pizza Friday was excellent. By the skin of its teeth. We almost  stopped at the Pizza Bianca.  ‘Good with beer’ was the response from the peanut gallery.  High praise actually.

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Now we know that pizza bianca is not really an appetiser for pizza but there you are. I hate rules. Don’t you hate rules?

So I used the same dough to make a  regular pizza. If you can call mozzerella and  beetroot drizzled with  a balsamic and strawberry glaze, that  Eva  gave me last time I saw her, a regular pizza.

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Cooked and topped with fresh greens from the garden.

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So simple and so beautiful, because the dough took days and the cheese took time and the beetroot, well the beetroot grew all by itself actually. But I did use good Californian olive oil.  We will be making pizzas more often now that I have discovered this dough. The September Home Grown Challenge has certainly pushed me into previously unmined areas of culinary delight.

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And these pickled eggs were just great. Though they scared the tasters with their Brightness! (ok, I laughed!)

And now that we have reached the end of the Food Photography Week and I have to say at this juncture that no-one can learn much in a week –  but we had a good time and that is the most important thing SURELY! Imagine getting run over by a bus if you were miserable. That would be rubbish don’t you think? Not that I see too many buses out here! Well, there is the school bus, that goes past a mile or two away ,but she knows me and I am sure she would not run me over or at the very least she would ask me if my underwear was presentable first.  My mother used to say that to me. “You can’t go out looking like that. What if you are run over by a bus!” And I would laugh, tripping over my flares in her (borrowed?) chunky heels! Well we don’t want to get into a discussion about knickers, do we, we are talking about taking photographs of food.

OK.

This is what I have learnt in my ‘shortest of the short’ study of food photography. 

What kind of camera you have is not the most important thing – how you use that camera is. So get to know it. I have learnt a lot about my camera this week. I just googled my questions, made notes, practiced and practiced.  Know your camera.

Use a tripod. Get a really heavy one. I am now saving to buy a video camera tripod, this sminky dinky one I have now would make a better bobble headed owl  in the grape vines than a tripod. My image needs to be sharp. Clarity is critical. Not all images Have to be in focus but as a viewer we hang our understanding of a shot on that area that is in focus so clarity is not negotiable with food.

Bracket your exposures.  Shoot one stop above and one below your correct aperture.  This gives you some wonderful choices. Or if you have little pictures on your dial, shoot using them all, one after the other, you will be surprised! Who drew all those little pictures anyway? They should be ashamed.

Ignore everything I said about light. If you have light, any natural light, you will find a shot. And  reflected natural light is your friend. Flash is not your friend! Neither is the overhead dining room light. Find a window with a little light and put your food there then see above.

When I was in art school (yes, I know I was the life drawing model but I was still  in EVERY single bloody drawing class, just .. well.. wearing no clothes.. but no need to dwell, my ears were not closed!)  –  they talked a lot about negative space. The space around the image. The resting space.  Look at that shot of the eggs, everything but the eggs is what they called negative space. I think I have this right, I may have fallen asleep and missed some bits but I try to use the negative space as I understand it.  OK. If you want a dramatic analogy -‘ Negative space is the straight guy.’ He is there to make the funny guy look funnier. Yes, that was me as well,  sigh,  always the straight guy, but I was wearing clothes when I was on the stage.  Stop laughing. Negative space is powerful. 

And lastly your image needs to tell a story.  It needs to have weight. You have the story, it is with you, now share it with me. Your story is incredibly individual.

And last-er but not least-er. By NO means the least actually. Once you have learnt all the rules  – BREAK THEM!

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Daisy’s dinner. Pumpkin time is her favourite time of year. Have a lovely day.

Your friend on the farm, celi

P.S.  Senior Son has issued a challenge. An October Challenge. I shall tell you about it tomorrow as I am still trying to work it out.

45 Comments on “Pizza Friday and Tips on Food Photography

  1. That pizza looks fantastic – great pictures!
    Don’t buy a video tripod unless you want to shoot video – photographic and video tripods are different and specific to the job. A Manfrotto tripod would be a good start – you can choose which head you’d like. Maybe the 055 legs and and one of the Three Way heads:
    http://www.manfrotto.co.uk/photo-tripods
    or buy a Tiltall:
    http://tiltalltripod.com/Aboutus.html
    I wouldn’t recommend any cheaper tripods than these.
    If you win the lottery buy a Gitzo 😉

  2. You were the model in the art class, nude, and yet you still had your ears open listening to the lesson?? Now that I admire… I took all the photos of Linda’s coffee shop food for her menus, and yes the first mistake I made was used the flash… the food looked terrible… secondly natural light and they were a lot better… but the final ones I took with natural light, but good natural light and had a sheet or board of white paper cardboard behind the food out of picture which we used to reflect light to give the food a bit of a 3D effect… the reflected light definitely improved the photos…

    • I learnt a lot in those classes! Reflected light is easy to do and makes a surprising difference. Everyone loved the pickled eggs. I shall be making more this weekend! c

  3. Far too busy too make pizza dough, I thought . . . but your combination of mozzarella, beetroot, greens and balsamic is totally irresistible!! Hmm ~ model in art classes: what else exciting are we going to learn about you as time goes by??? And lucky Mum-to-be Daisy – what a wonderful extra for her baby . . . Am yawning: have not really had time to stop since I posted a comment on your yesterday’s blog this morning . . . almost Sunday morning here and the gales have died down, so with a huge smile ni-ni 🙂 !

  4. Wow your pickled eggs are beautiful. Question-do you do anything to your beetroot before you put it on the pizza? Definitely something I would love to try.

    • The beetroot was roasted in a little oil with a sprinkling of dill. I have some left over too, for a beetroot salad tonight.. c

  5. Good Morning Celi, waht an artistic week you have had! You pictures are worth a thousand words. SO glad you enjoyed the pickled eggs – they used to be on the bar of every good pub in England so I am surprised you haven’t had them before.
    Have had a few mishaps over the past few days. Hit the deer (which you knew) so had to get car fixed (more money). Got bitten on the eye lid by bug, so one eyed for a number of days as it was swollen shut. Then somehow smacked the middle finger of my left hand so much so that it is swollen and wont bend! Oh well life goes on LOL
    Busy week here – Centrefest today in the town, when all the artists, and lots of others vendors fill the streets of Bedford for the whole day. So will walk around and see what unusual things I can find. Plus they have four stages with bands/groups playing on each all day as well.
    Then I have a lot of pet sitting this week, dogs and cats, so early mornings and late nights ahead. Garden is slowly grinding down, did plant a load more cabbages, broccoli and brussles yesterday and will be planting garlic over the next couple of weeks. Thinking of planting potatoes to see how that will work, maybe then get early start in the spring? Looking forward to finding out what your October Challenge will be (something we can join in with?)
    Hugs, Lyn

    • You are going to have a fantastic winter garden, our growing season will soon be over.. so sad.. no wonder you injured your finger if you could not see out of your eye. i do believe that is the THREE things though. So things should be quiet for you for a wee bit. Hopefully. Your market sounds lovely. And yes as many pubs as i was in in England (many) I was never brave enough to try the eggs.. Should have though! Have a lovely day.. c

  6. You make me laugh:-) love the underwear comment-I do think of that sometimes-lol. Your picks are looking mighty good up there…and I love your best suggestion of all “once you learn the rules-break them”…lol..I was a modern dancer + art major in my undergraduate, so I do get your comments about the “model” in class…we had them all the time—as for stage, good you had clothes on-lol…witty post!

    • I was nursing at night, so being a life drawing model in the day while the kids were at school, worked well for me.. I did fall asleep often though, missed those lessons! laugh! c

      • lol..we had a few fall asleep on us in the class, too…Oh, I can relate to going to school with kids…those were the days, but these days I have no excuse to be falling asleep!

  7. Pingback: Pizza Friday on Saturday | Garden Correspondent

  8. Nice looking pumpkins! I love the way they lean into each other as if to say…”Is she serious? Do we have to really say cheese?” I have so many pumpkins this year…more than I anticipated…for sure! LOL Have taken a bunch of photos because they are so gorgeous this year and very large…very large…did I say very large? 😀 Considering a fork lift to get them out of the garden! 😉
    Nude model! Well, I am soooo impressed…I am such a modest little virgo! No bravado here! And to think I used to have the body to do it!!!! Ahhhhh…..youth!
    Pizza sounds and looks delicious! Didn’t grow any beets this year. Have enough jars of pickled beets in the larder. In fact…I have to find more storage place for my canned pumpkins and buttercup squash!!!! Uffda…
    Pizza lovers here!!! A great gluten free pizza crust is my biggest challenge these days.
    Some of my best photographs were flukes! How they happened I haven’t a clue! I’d just shoot shoot shoot from many angles and distances. Some were good, some fair, and some needed deleting! I am really good at deleting! LOL And then I’d get one that I truly loved! Ahhhhh success! Plating is a work in progress for me and the lighting in my kitchen depending on time of day is always an issue. So I often move from place to place or room to room and hope I get good results!
    Have taken to collecting odd pieces…plates, glasses, cups and saucers, platters and bowls! All mismatch…but so fun! Hubby? I simply explain that they are tools!!! That he gets!
    I enjoy it and I can see that you do too! So arrange and shoot away! That’s what I do…of course I also listen, read, take advice, and try my best to make it happen! I get so happy when I get lucky! For me… it is for my own sheer enjoyment in capturing the moment of food, the farm, and all life on it. I love to share!
    Have a great day Ceci and everyone out there! It has been raining here all night. So early this morning…I went for a walk in the rain and spoke softly to all my trees, gave them each a gentle touch and some words of encouragement. Especially my Clapps Favorite pear tree I have been nursing this precious tree along for three winters now…and it is going to be another long hard winter here…as usual.
    Your blog is the one I look for every morning! Love to read all the news and enjoy everyone who posts too! Thank you for sharing your life on your farm!

  9. Thank you kindly dear Celi for the shout out! My favourite pizzas are usually the kind that are thrown together either to use up ingredients or because there is nothing else. I’m very pleased that you enjoyed the glaze, I shall have to remember that trick with some pomegranate glaze my friend Barb gave me.
    I have only one rule and that is that rules were meant to be broken! Live dangerously. I have been very lazy lately, using my lovely iPhone camera with Camera Awesome app but you’ve inspired me to pull out the Canon and learn to use it all over again. I forget so easily what those little diagrams mean, and you’re right, shame on whomever drew them.
    I took life drawing class at university but I was on the other side if the easel.

  10. Did every Mum in the whole world utter those words at one time or another? It’s a wonder any of us dare to wear shabby undies at all! 🙂 That pizza looks like we could just reach in and take a piece..hmm, wonder if it has anything to do with the fabulous photo of it? C. did you post the recipe somewhere of the dough? If you did, I must have missed it…can we have it again or just point me in the right direction?? Oh and love those gorgeous pink eggs! 🙂

  11. Your food photography learning has truly paid off – these are all stunning. I would love to have a tripod – Christmas list, I suppose. Learning the rules and then breaking them is what I tell beginner poets.
    Have a good weekend.

  12. I loved the photos; again, I want to take an axe, chop open the screen, and partake, alas, alack, this I cannot do; you are one mighty talented lady!

  13. You’ve captured a nice bit of negative space between the stems of the two pumpkins: almost a heart forming between them. Now that picture seems to have a story in it somewhere. You’ve also got some nice light in a couple of those shots. My consciousness has been raised by your photography posts – thank you.

  14. I’m no photographer, but if you lack a tripod, you can always steady the camera on a bottle of wine. There’s usually one of those in the house. 🙂 Or in this case, a beer stein.

  15. It looks perfect, really perfect. I agree with you about light. I would add that I think the nicest pictures are the ones that have a sense of real life about them, food really about to be eaten and not messed or preened to much – like that first shot. And yes, break all the rules, Rxx

  16. Very impressive pizza….surprising ingredients, but certainly not without funk. Photography is very like writing…..as Bernard Malamud said ” You write by sitting down and writing”. Taking pictures is easy, it’s recognising a good one that is difficult.

  17. I can see I’ve been missing out on all sorts around here – pizza Friday’s, food photography and pants 🙂
    lovely dinner for moo, great photo too

  18. Daisy would have to share those pumkins with the G.O. – he would request I make soup from Daisy’s dinner 🙂 mmm balsamic & strawberry glaze on beetroot on pizza. We use a plain balsamic glaze or fig vino cotto on tomatoes on pizza. The eggs are stunning colours… I now have a cunning plan for Christmas pickled eggs.

  19. Your food photography works for me! Can’t wait to find out what the October challenge is. Daisy and I have a lot in common, if she loves pumpkin as much as I. Can I get that pizza “to go?” Looks yummy!

  20. The beetroot pizza looks really appetizing, Cecilia! Do you have a recipe for your crust on your site somewhere?

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