Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blood orange curd: Calling all food stylists

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I think I've shared with you my acceptance (more or less) of my mediocre photography skills. I have limited time and limited patience. I do the best I can.

But the blood orange curd is really sending me over the edge. It's a pink blob. It didn't look good in a bowl. It didn't look good on a spoon. It looked better on toast, but this was the best I could come up with:

And even I'm not deluded enough to think that this is at all good.

So here's my challenge to all of you. Tell me how you would style this photo. I will try just about anything I have the props and lighting to execute. The method that works best will earn both my undying gratitude and a dozen brownies shipped or delivered to your door. Because seriously, people, I need help.

For those of you not familiar with curd - it's got the consistency of mayonnaise. And it's highly reflective.



Update: Another try

Based on some of the advice in the comments and from my good friend and master photographer Rachel Kaganoff Stern (visit her blog Inside the Kaganoff Kitchen if you want to see some truly spectacular food photography), I did a second round of photos this morning. Here's what I got:

Better, I think. Still not fabulous. I had trouble getting both the curd and the blood orange slice in focus. I wonder if that's me or my camera?

Tomorrow morning I'll try some of the other suggestions, with fuzzy oranges in the background.


Dawn said...

I can feel your pain on this one. I took about 20 photos for my Fruit Curd Mania post and finally settled on a photo that doesn't begin to show the consistency of it. After I finished the post, I thought about putting it in jam jars which, duh, is how I stored it in the fridge! Maybe an old jar lying around with a spoon in it to show the consistency?

craig geller said...

first of all, I would bounce the flash off the ceiling or a white surface as the shadows are killing you. then i would scratch that whole grain bread (and not because it makes for horrible sandwiches but that is for another time) and go with something very white to bring out the contrast. also if it is thick enough, try to put some delectable, frosting-like spread marks. either that or put it in a white ceramic spoon and see if you can get a peak (a la Dairy Queen sundaes). that's all I got right now.

Rita Anne Smith said...

Hello Erika:
How about putting the curd in a small crystal bowl and garnishing it with the blood orange slice. The clarity of the crystal may complement the color of the curd.

Patti at Worth The Whisk said...

E - I'd attempt to shoot it indoors, on that wonderful oak table of yours by the diningroom window, afternoon natural light, put the oranges way in the background for depth, curd in a shallow white bowl, a butter knife across the bowl edge, some curd on the knife. Use the "light bounce" tinfoil-wrapped cardboard to help point a little light where needed.

Kate @ Savour Fare said...

Hmm. Definitely whiter light would help even that. The blood oranges themselves look messy and bloody, so you could go in that direction, but that's not my favorite style, so I'd nix the orange slices entirely (though some whole oranges in the background might look nice). In a bowl or basket. I'd probably put the curd in a cute glass jar with a big window behind it and a bounce in front of it, ideally on white, but on a wood table on a white plate would work too. And maybe spread it on a shortbread round with a tiny silver spoon.

Erika Kerekes said...

@Dawn - I thought about the jam jar too. If I'd been smart, I would have poured it into a jar at the beginning, so it would have set up in the jar. But I didn't. I will look for a small jar (not that much left at this point). And then the spoon - where? Across the mouth of the jar? Next to (but depth of field problem, maybe)? Actually standing up in the jar? And shoot straight on, or straight down?

@Craig - not using flash. That picture above was in filtered sunlight. So are you recommending white bread? I assumed the texture of the whole grain would be better, more contrast. It will not peak - not stiff enough.

@Mayazmum - this morning I tried it in a small wineglass with a slice of blood orange hanging over the side (thank you Rachel S for that suggestion). Have not uploaded those photos yet. Will let you know how that works out. I don't think I have a small crystal bowl. Maybe small silver, or small plain glass.

@Patti - I am hampered by the fact that I don't get home until 6pm, when the nice light by that window is mostly gone. Oranges whole in the background? White bowl resting on what, just the plain table?

Anonymous said...

I make a lemon curd that I use as a layer in a cake - it really looks lovely between the layers of white cake, and you can see the consistency as well. The cake is from Cooks Illustrated (lemon layer cake), and they have a lovely photo of a single slice of cake with the light shining through the lemon curd from behind.

Erika Kerekes said...

Okay, I updated the post with my second round of photos. Better, still not great. I fear I am just doomed to a life of mediocre pictures. Also, I know I am not getting the most out of new Canon G11. There must be a better way to use it. I feel like I need a tutor. Volunteers welcome.

craig geller said...

here's an idea: delegate. make a batch, put it in small jars and send them to anyone who wants them for the price of a photograph.

Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro said...

What about shooting with a small basket / trio of whole blood oranges, and cutting one blood orange in half to show it's cross-section, then add the glass to the frame?

And, I know how you feel. I hate a lot of my photos. AND I live on the shady side of a hill. My opportunity for natural light is 8 AM - 11 AM. Boo.


Kate @ Savour Fare said...

I like the glass pictures. The first one is great but the background is too distracting. The second one needs to have the whole glass in the photo or just the cup, and the light is too yellow (can be fixed in picnik, maybe). Martini glasses are hard to shoot b/c there's so much non food stuff in them.

Paula Rosenthal said...

I like Craig's idea! :)

Erin said...

When I get back I'm coming over to help with the G11!

I think you need a simple martini glass, a reflector to bounce light and possibly a mirror for the glass to be on or as a background.

Could also hollow out the orange and put the curd in the orange.

Erika Kerekes said...

Apologies to all of you who sent followup ideas - this week got crazy and I had no time for more photos. And the blood orange curd will be gone as of today. But I'll make Meyer lemon curd next, and I'm sure it will present the same problem. Stay tuned.

Rachel Kaganoff Stern said...

Erika: Thanks for the nice comments about my blog. You need to be attentive to what is behind your food. Even little things can be distracting unless they are completely out of focus. The shadow in the second photo isn't helping and the first photo has distracting stuff behind it. Can you control the F-stop on your camera? If not, it will be hard to throw the whole background out of focus. I will absolutely come over and give you a lesson. Let me know when.

jaden said...

LOL you're too funny! well, it sure tasted fab!

kisses! jaden

Lauren said...

that last one looks cool. I would try in a small glass jar (like those ones from yogurt that some people seem to have) very rustic looking, maybe set on a piece of wood with half an orange next to it?

gerry furth-Sides said...


Why don't you try a much more contemporary dish (the container I mean)....

if the curd goes on a cracker or bread cut into a shape... do the curd in the (square or rectangular for interest, and yellow or a contrasting color?) dish in the middle of the plate with a blood orange garnish, and the crackers overlapping around the plate.


Karen said...

Came here for the green garlic hummus and started clicking through, great site! When I have this problem I look to the pros for inspiration. I'm thinking of this photo I saw in a class I took from Matt Armendariz. You should look at his portfolio- he has a jar of jam that he made look beautiful so maybe it will inspire you! There aren't too many photos on there to go through- the jam is in the portfolio under "latest work"- http://www.mattarmendariz.com/

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