I realize I’ve been quite remiss in posting, but friends, after two weeks of traveling, holidays, and a persistent head cold, it felt SO GOOD to just watch a Monday go by without worrying about recipe development or photo editing. It feels extravagant and lush to spend a day at leisure without any guilt (this is a problem I often have), and so I’ve allowed myself a bit of that these past few days.
It’s time to come back to reality, but I’m letting myself edge back into the pool slowly, lightly. Today, I want to offer you two things. First, a bit of a photo review – some of my favorite shots from last year, and why they rank so highly – and second, the project I’ve decided on for 2016.
Let’s start with the photos.
The one is all about color contrast. I love the deep rusty sunset color of the carrot soup, with the bright drizzle of coconut milk resting on top. The dark color of the table sets off the whole thing, and I like the homey weave of the napkin in front, with the bowl set back and out of focus, almost as an afterthought. I’m shooting in late morning on an unfinished table in the back corner of my backyard, shaded by several trees, that I’d hastily wiped off just before this shoot.
I’m crazy about the look of the mushrooms here. It was a quick picture without much planning, but there was something about their uneven roundness and the way they tumbled and clustered across my cutting board that appealed deeply to me.
Here it’s all about brightness and sharpness. The edges of the radish – bright pink into tinted white – are just as sharp as the peppery radish itself. The slices are so thin they are almost transparent, and I dig the overhead perspective with the pale, unfinished table surface underneath.
This is my desktop background on my computer at work – partly because the reminder of the existence of chocolate during a tough day is a pick-me-up in itself, and partly because I love the depth of field. I had just started seriously experimenting with aperture mode on my camera when I took this, and I was so happy that the focus came out exactly where I’d wanted it to, right at the closest point of the bar of chocolate, and fading out of focus as the bar extended, which I think makes it look far bigger than it actually is.
Again, I love the color contrast here, but also the textures you can see – the uneven grain of the wood beneath the stark white ceramic plate, the random drizzles of dark balsamic and pale olive oil, and the bright basil leaf drowning underneath the warm peach slices. It was exactly the photograph I wanted to capture, and those always delight me.
I find salads one of the hardest types of food to photograph attractively, so I was thrilled by how well this came out. There was a lot of careful placement work for this image, adjusting the leaves and the vegetable slices to ensure a varied stack rather than a homogeneous pile. I also resisted dressing the salad until the last possible moment, as a dressed salad begins to wilt instantly, and crisper leaves seem to make for a better photo.
The blistered skin, curling back from where it has snapped from the pan’s heat, made such a nice play of different shiny surfaces here, and because I am outside (the kitchen was losing light, so I went for the neutral background of our paved back patio area), there’s a blueness to the light of the photo that I really like with the plums. It was a dessert with a play of temperatures – warm fruit with an ice-cold pastry cream – so the coolness of the photo and my memory of the very hot day on which it was taken heighten my appreciation for both the dessert and the image of it.
This one might be my favorite. I love the play of different sizes and colors here, and the fact that there are no defined borders. The seeds are tumbled together in a large cookie sheet, but my shot is tight enough that you can’t see any of the sides, and I think that makes for a better final picture.
The mottled, uneven look of the ancient, battered cookie sheet here makes a nice contrast to the sharp, new metal of the measuring spoon and the dark, wrinkled peppercorns. The detail here thrills me – I love photos that remind me how sharp and powerful my camera is – it is lovely to be able to see so sharply the pocks and pits in the peppercorns.
There you have it: my favorite photos from 2015. It was hard to choose, and as you can see, hard to narrow them down.
Since we’re now into the first week of 2016, I’m excited to share with you this year’s project. One of the features WordPress allows me with this blog is to check a statistics page, and in addition to page hits and number of views, it often shows me search terms – what words or phrases people have used to find the blog. Sometimes these are easy to figure out – “apple oatmeal bread” is a pretty common one that leads people to this quickbread I made for a Twelve Loaves challenge – but sometimes they are odd or hilarious, and sometimes they are inspiring – I’m driven to imagine what such a dish would be like. What ingredients would I use? What would tie it together? How would I assemble it? So that’s the project for 2016. Once a month, I will create a dish inspired by search terms someone has used to find this blog. It will, I think, stretch my imagination, and that requirement of originality without a real plan will be an entertaining challenge.