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Wednesday, 11 July 2018


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I’m not very well-versed in this but, aren’t you supposed to eat some protein in evey meal, including breakfast?

[Not if you buy the China Study / whole-food plant-based (WFPB) agenda, which I do. It's impossible to eat a varied WFPB diet and not get enough protein. The one supplement you need is B-12. But I acknowledge that diet is essentially ideological in our current state of scientific ignorance, so other people will have loyalties to different stories. I try not to tell other people what to do, but just go my own way. The omnivore's dilemma is still very much with us. --Mike]

I often find myself pondering this issue. I certainly sit very close to the documentary end of that spectrum - maybe a dash or two in. What exists is often at its most unique as it is. I would prefer the unique to the perfect in almost all areas of my life. I prefer to see and find images vs "making" them, which I know can be a controversial subject in photo circles. Like you, I am not that interesting in exerting maximum control over that scene.

I've Been taking supplemental vitamins since the 1970s—it works for me.

I've shot a lot of food, both for print ads, and TV commercials. The photographer doesn't pick the "hero bun," the food stylist does. She also picks the "hero patty." And the food stylist also places the meat on the bun 8-)

For an Amour Star Turkey shoot they flew-in a person to airbrush the partially roasted turkey the perfect brown 8-) You can't make this stuff up!

BTW Huntington Beach grows a lot of strawberries—nothing tastes better than fresh strawberries.

Reminds me of this:

Only the bishop gave the baboon the bun
The only bishop gave the baboon the bun
The bishop only gave the baboon the bun
The bishop gave only the baboon the bun
The bishop gave the only baboon the bun
The bishop gave the baboon only the bun
The bishop gave the baboon the only bun
The bishop gave the baboon the bun only

(Lancelot Hogben - The Vocabulary of Science)

Thanks, Mike, I really appreciate your take on snapping photos of your food. It definitely is that for me. Thanks and appreciation and grace for what I am about to eat. A celebration!

Can't remember where, when or who anymore, but I was once regaled by a food photographer about the problems of shooting pizza. Apparently, pizza in a photograph doesn't look like something you'd want to put in your mouth.

My kind of food photography:

One Bad Apple, 2012

I like that graph. Makes me feel better about how lazy I am when it comes to lighting and setting up the shot. I'm a documentarian. :)

Bacon or it didn't happen.

"The one supplement you need is B-12."

I think you will also need to take a folic acid supplement, the two need to be in balance.

I tend to a slight B12 deficiency myself - it's my excuse for regular steak and salmon. ;-)

"how do ya' like them apples?"

When you do commercial work, it is not really about the photographer's preference, you are often presented with a layout and asked if you can make it happen.
That is very different than personally directed work . Both can be fun, I did it for pay and loved the problem solving aspect of it, now I do it for fun and change basically nothing except perhaps the light or direction of approach.
In the old days of food photography there was a great deal more 'manipulation' of the product (including things lit partially filling the bowl with gravel so the vegetables in the vegetable soup appeared more plentiful. There was artificial steam, thickening agents & other stuff. While client preference still drives the look of food photography, the trend has been toward much more realistic presentations. Including the presentation of raw ingredients and lifestyle queues.
For Chef Prepared dishes the chef's presentation is usually honored with minor fixes. The choice of shooting angle and plate rotation being the main tools.
Though rejecting piles of a product in order to find a 'hero' for the shot had some distinct benefits. We had Cutty Sark as a client and we felt obliged to call and tell them that they better check their label machine because we had to go through quite a few bottles to find one one where the label wasn't slightly skewed.......
Of course by the end of it all WE were slightly skewed.
A long time ago........
There is actually a reason for the attempts at perfection, once photographed imperfections are exaggerated, your eye goes there rather that on the product the client is trying to sell.

I had exactly those same bowls.

It would be interesting to take your continuum and merge it with Dennis' at 90 degrees to the middle for a 2D chart.

A possible third part is that of snapshot vs deliberation. Sometimes a photo must be taken in the instant or be lost (Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico is the classic example) but others reward deliberation, care & time (Weston's Pepper No. 30 at f/240 with an exposure time of 4-6 hours!) It could be interesting to explore this as a z axis to that previous x:y chart and see how various photographers plot out - or perhaps even more interestingly individual photographs - in that 3D view.

Fresh ground black pepper on strawberries sounds weird tastes great

Are black raspberries blackberries? Also, didn't some scientists discover that rats fed on a diet of blueberries grew younger and started to dance?

Nutrient density. Per 100 calories of a specific food, how much protein is available.

Check out Romaine lettuce. It might surprise you.

The two ends of the spectrum are not mutually exclusive, especially for a subject that moves: you can set up an area with perfect lighting and details, and let the subject do their thing so there is still a large element of spontaneity and discovery in the photo. I'd argue that even for static subject like food, there is quite a bit of discovery possible if you try to work all the angles to the subject.

I subscribe to all things in moderation.

I'm about done reading a Steve Ambrose book on the Lewis & Clark Expedition on my Kindle. One of the more difficult aspects was figuring out what to take on the trip that could last through the lean times when they couldn't fish or hunt for game, which was plentiful in many locations along the way.

Even then, they almost starved to death in the Rockies, and also had severe dietary problems when subsisting on nothing but buffalo and similar game meat day after day (elk, deer, beaver, and even dog and horse). Scurvy and other vitamin deficient diseases haunted them, and it was really no better when they then subsisted on nothing but 'roots' (vegetables) or sometimes only 'roots' and fish. They really ended up punishing their bodies with the extremes in diet they put themselves through.

As I said, "everything in moderation, easy does it."

I am more Documentation than Perfection on your scale as I shoot a lot of weather scenes. It's a bit difficult to rearrange the clouds to get a better composition.

Your breakfast photo is making me drool! Although I live in the desert southwest now, I grew up not far from where you live. I was raised (spoiled) on fresh produce. When late summer/autumn comes around, make sure to check out grape pie. It's one of the things I miss most about the Finger Lakes.

And ...
The baboon gave the bishop only the bun.
And so on, ad infinitum. Hahaha!

Half eaten Moldy fruit with flies, wasps, worms and grubs. Click!
Super wide macro of course.

YB Hudson III

The sister of a friend was an assistant in an advertising agency when I was an undergrad... so early 80's. They had the McDonalds account for Australia.
None of the food was real, it was all crafted carefully from synthetic rubber to be reliably perfect, day in, day out. I got to hold a french fry and, aside from smell and grease, it looked absolutely 100% real.

“It's easy to be critical of the Instagrammy practice of people snapping quick pix of the food they're about to eat. But I don't know—I consider it kind of touching and human. It's a quiet little celebration, isn't it? Almost a secular way of saying grace.“

Beautifully said.

I don't quiet get the scorn for people that instagram their food. Sure, there's a good dosis of boast out there, of "look in what fancy restaurant I'm eating", but theres' also what you mention, thanks and praise for the universe, and also, little celebrations of love and friendship, and of the humble art of home cooking. I my self mostly do it to save a memory of my wife's cooking, to remember later that otherwise normal afternoon when she gave me love in the form of a cutely arranged salad. Also, we have learned a lot about food and cooking watching those pictures on Instagram, they are a marvelous window to the world's food that wasn't available just a decade ago.

Finally, let's not forget that famous food instagramer avant-garde: Edward Weston.

I like to think that I use the camera to see and show what is, so I see myself to the left of the scale as well.

But documenting an expressive or suggestive presentation, such as presentation of food for the table, or in a store display, is different from documenting the things that are being thus presented.

So, the way I see it, even strictly documentary food photography can appear to be all over the scale, depending on where exactly the intended subject falls on the continuum of things and ideas around the word "food".

In response to the comments about food photography and faking it.

Sometimes I think I really should have gone into food photography instead of pets.

I had a friend who was working as a food stylist for a while. She quit because she couldn't take the detail work. I love detail work.

I have boxes and boxes of 'props' for my pet and HO scale people work. I've bought and or made fake food myself. And on some of the items, if it's not exactly right, I grab my paints and brushes and enhance it. I made my own 'roasted' marshmallows once using foam and paints.

Google "fake food" sometime. You'd be amazed at what is out there.

My aunt is an artist, works in oils, acrylics and now pastels. She started out painting set ups of fruit and breads. She had to learn to work fast or would take a simple photograph and work from that. Now, she borrows the food props I have and can leave it setup for days if need be.

I love progress.

Want to see a perfectionist freak out? The folks who keep their photo equipment ‘pristine’, have them look into one of their ‘perfect’ lenses with sunlight backlighting the lens. Even a brand new, right out of the box, high ticket lens will look just awful. A bit mean I admit, but there a little bit of devil in the best of us, and that too bad I guess.

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