Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Biscuits with mushroom beef gravy - the photo

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Remember the struggles I had photographing blood orange curd a few months ago? Today's challenge was even harder: biscuits with mushroom beef gravy, also known as "cat food" to food stylists and photographers. (Thank master food stylist Denise Vivaldo for that lovely visual, which came up in her presentation at Camp Blogaway this past weekend.)

And I think I nailed it. Well, you tell me:


Denise's advice for photographing cat food: Stay far away from the food, put something recognizable on top, use an interesting vessel. Check, check, check. I also decided on a black background to set off the color and design of the plate. It's a piece of black posterboard from the art store - I have a portfolio in the kitchen with posterboard and foam board in a bunch of different colors. A good $20 investment for those of us who take food pictures.

I also used the photography advice from Art Ramirez, another Camp Blogaway presenter, in this shot. Took the darn camera off auto. Set the white balance to "cloudy," as it was early morning in foggy Santa Monica. Bounced some light with a big piece of white foam board to fill in some of the shadows. I still haven't bought a tripod, but that's next on my list.

I'm going to write about this dish for The Mushroom Channel in a few weeks, so stay tuned for the recipe. But at least now I know I've got the photo in the bag.

Thanks to @rockenwagner for the naming advice - I couldn't call it "Cat food with mushrooms," now could I?

13 comments:

SMITH BITES said...

Great job! I have yet to master a decent shot of pasta or egg dishes - will try some of these suggestions and see what happens. Want to attend Camp Blogaway next year as I had a traveling conflict this year.

Patti at Worth The Whisk said...

OMG - you totally NAILED it. I agree, shooting a chopped meat food is soooo hard, (no matter how absolutely yummy it is in real life). The lessons you applied to this shot really WORKED. Congrats, excellent job!

craig geller said...

not so sure. still looks like chipped beef. I would have shot from an angle with a narrow depth of field that highlighted the biscuit and part of the gravy. also, making it more of like a neat sandwich would have given some order to the amorphous mess that is said mushroom gunk.

Erika said...

Craig - well, it IS chipped beef, more or less. That said, I have more biscuits and gravy at home and will try it again tomorrow morning in sandwich mode, if I can get it to play nicely and stay upright.

If I were really a food stylist (as clearly I am not), I would have sauteed some mushrooms separately and scattered them atop the gravy. Too late. All mushrooms in sauce.

Nancy said...

Hi Erika

WOO HOO!!! Nice photo!! I'm not much of a food stylist - had a little training in Culinary school but that's about it. This is a great dish to work on because it's a toughy - not lot's of color. I think your idea of the mushrooms would work well - give the shot some movement. Can't wait to see what you do next!!!

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

Erika, so wonderful to spend time with you this weekend at Camp! Great job working with your new photo tools. I need to get some foam core asap. xo

Sippity Sup said...

Yes I can see you were listening to the folks at camp. This is an elegant plate and cat food or no, I'd gobble these shrooms up. GREG

Erika said...

@Smith Oh please come to Camp Blogaway next year! It was fantastic and you will love it!

@Patti Photographing cat foor = only one of the amazing things I learned at Camp Blogaway. I am so grateful and can't wait for next year.

@Craig I forgot to mention that as I will be writing about this dish for The Mushroom Channel blog, I didn't want to focus the photo on the biscuit to the complete exclusion of the mushrooms.

@Nancy I seem to have a knack for cooking and wanting to eat and thus having to photograph food that looks like sludge (e.g. stew) or is wobbly and shiny (e.g. blood orange curd, rice pudding). Ah well, now I know my fatal flaw and can continue to find workarounds.

@Marla Likewise!

@Sippitysup "Elegant" is a huge compliment coming from you and I am honored! It may have looked like cat food, but it sure tasted good.

Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro said...

Agreed, you nailed this one! Way to directly a lesson or two.

As an aside, it was lovely to meet you this weekend. Let me know when your calendar is free for a dinner get-together! [K]

Erika said...

@Kim - likewise, I was so glad to meet you in person! Cannot wait to come see your garden. I'll DM you to find a date. The end of the school year is tough so it may be a few weeks or even a month....

Lentil Breakdown said...

Wow, that is a nice shot! I am planning to buy some foam core board and a portfolio of backdrops. Thanks for the reminder!

Erika said...

Thanks @LentilBreakdown! I bought one of those huge flap-top envelope portfolios and about a dozen pieces of posterboard and foam core in different colors. It now lives in the kitchen near my desk. The nice thing about posterboard is that if I accidentally spill something on it, I can go to the store and get a brand new one for a dollar!

Anonymous said...

I think the picture is excellent. Nothing you can do about the color of the mushroom gravy. I bet it tastes delicious! Mom

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