Let's start with summer atmosphere. This is how our home in Poland looks like in May. It's pure magic there especially at this time of the year. Different world with secret garden filled with beautiful flowers, hidden from civilisation - heaven on Earth. Why choose some expensive faraway destinations since your family home makes you feel so good? Check the pics below:
So we have kinda big news, today is one year since we started this website. A lot has happened since then, our lives have changed. Bart prepares new posts, cooks, foodstyles and takes pics. Janusz is a technical support, he designs the website and makes sure its attractive and functional. So we decided to make a short summary and just to make sure that our blog will get better with time and if you have any suggestions just leave them in the comments below.
Actually first photographs I started taking some time in February last year and was posting them on facebook, some of them you can see below. Light, composition, not really knowing the camera settings, wrong white balance were the huge problem. But everyone has to start somewhere and so did we. Than it is a constant challenge, pushing yourself, taking inspiration from magazines, studying images, reading and analyzing, all this to make a progress and my advice is to shoot everyday or as often as you can.
So just few more words here about how we improved the photographs. I am in no way an expert but why not share some ideas that we learned along the way. First I studied what I could possibly find online and offline about photography and styling. Styling is important and I often cook dish twice - first time to take the photograph and than I finish it off for our actual dinner. There is many tricks that you can use to make the food look more beautiful on the photograph. Like often, for example, vegetables are cooked only for a a very short time, removed from the heat and covered with ice water to stop cooking process and to retain beautiful colours. Than vegetable oil is spread on meat or vegies so they look attractive and shiny to the camera eye. I have to admit I like to glorify food, make it beautiful and capture it all on the photo. Btw, here are my top five books on food photography and styling:
- Delores Custer: "Food styling: The art of preparing food for the camera"
- Helen Dujardin "Plate to Pixel"
- Denise Vivaldo: "Food Stylist's Handbook"
- Bill Brady: "More digital food photography"
- Nicole S Young: "From snapshots to great shots"
As well we started collaborating with Irish number one culinary magazine Easy Food last year. You can see some recent images we shot for them below, it was for the herb feature and I am sure I will be posting some of these recipes here soon. You get to work from home, cook food, take pictures and be creative and than have it all for dinner, sounds good to me!
And this is the "behind the scenes" of my last pancake session. So food is always prepared for the camera eye. You can see how pancakes actually looked from the back, I used cotton pads to make them look leveled and to build this perfect and straight stack of pancakes. I made sure as well the biggest pancake was on the bottom and smallest and most beautiful on top. Than I used few more tricks, first the syrup was a bit frozen in that way it was pouring forever and it was easier to take some great shots. Same with butter it was frozen inside, than I used hand torch to heat it up a bit - in that way it was melting beautifully while retaining nice shape. In the picture you can also see how I set lighting. I know the light is the most important part of photography and natural light is simply the best. So if you are lucky enough to live in California catch the sun and diffuse it with piece of white sheet for example. I started working recently with strobes, because unfortunately the weather in Dublin does not spoil us. Still it is kinda black magic to me but I try to copy lighting setups from the books and observe how light hits the subject and than do necessary adjustments. One of the lights I set on the right and bounced it off bent in half white foam. The second light was bounced off white wall from behind the food and than used another fill light with softbox from the front. I got this kit on ebay and it was actually very good value for 3 x 250W lights I paid slightly above 200 Euros. Before I worked with continuous lights - 2 softboxes they were great to begin with, however I wanted better quality and think strobes are much better, you have to learn more here too and experiment but they give you great texture and much better control. Already working with one light placed behind or on one of the sides from the subject can give you great results, you can than just use a fill card (white foam board to bounce the light back onto the subject and reduce the shadows in that way). Besides strobes best mimic white light and have temperature of 5500 Kelvin, they can be easily combined too with natural daylight for even better results.
So a good food pic consists of a few components: vibe - story- atmosphere - what we want to say, then the most important is of course light, composition, props and backgrounds (props I just buy in charity shops and backgrounds you can find interesting looking wooden boards anywhere) than we have to think about food styling and last but not least post editing with Photoshop. I usually take between 50-100 pics of each dish and move constantly stuff around so when I am finished I have many different pics to choose from and one or two than have this extra something where everything seems to be working perfectly. Also as far as Photoshop goes I learned that less is more, just go with little adjustments - colour, contrast, exposure are all you need. You can check out some tutorials on youtube and another website that I recommend for courses is lynda.com.
Oh and finally, we wanted to show off some statistics from this year. Our website was visited 323061 times by 149280 people. I learned something here too. When I started blogging I had this pressure to post as often as possible to get more visits. And was posting sometimes just for the sake of posting, in a hurry - not good at all. I became more relaxed now about the whole process since anyway visits are the same whether you post one, two or three times per week. So I decided to post in my own time, when I am ready, when it all makes sense, no pressure, no promises, just to go with the flow, think it is a healthy approach isn't it? We want to share with you best recipes, our passion for cooking, creativity, keep it simple. I guess I need to work more on my writing, cause it can be boring and chaotic like this loooong post, but anyways I hope you managed to find some useful info here today. So do visit us often and today we present you with our 1 year birthday cake! See you all very soon! Recipe comes from June issue of Easy Food, recipe sent by Jane Rushe, co.Roscommon.
Boiled Fruit Cake
- 150g butter
- 200g golden syrup
- 150ml milk
- 550g mixed dried fruits (currants, raisins and sultanas)
- 100g mixed peel
- 225g cream flour
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 eggs
The night before you plan on baking your cake, combine the butter, golden syrup and milk in a saucepan and melt over a low heat. Whisk well to combine. Remove from the heat and add the fruits and mixed peel. Stir well. Cover and leave until the following day.
The following day, preheat the oven to 150˚C/130˚C fan/gas mark 2. Butter a 23cm, deep-sided cake tin and line the base with a disc of parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the tin with aluminium foil (this prevents the cake from burning while it cooks). Sift together the flour, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl.
Beat the eggs in separate bowl and stir the eggs through the fruit mixture. Fold in the sifted dry ingredients. Turn the cake mixture into the tin. Place on the lowest shelf in the oven to bake for two hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake looks to be browning too quickly, cover with a hat made from aluminium foil.
When baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin before turning out. This cake gets better with maturing. Store in an airtight tin or box.