Sunday, August 4, 2013

Bend it like Bhindi

When I was learning to knit, I would study pictures of knit garments for hours, especially when ravelry started up. I read blogs of knitters, checked out scores of library books, and probably did some early damage to my eyesight admiring the enviably even, tiny, stitches. I progressed as a knitter, confident in my own stitching, and the pictures began to look completely different. There were models, backgrounds, light, and even an odd farm animal or two during my Rowan phase. Had these things not been there before? Of course they were always there; nothing had changed except the scope of my attention. Suddenly noticing a detail you had overlooked for a long time can be disconcerting, and difficult to live down. For two years, I had no idea my car had cruise control until I was a passenger. I simply could not see the button under the curve of the steering wheel. Who knows what else I've missed all these years?! Frankly, it's a wonder my children haven't wandered off and been lost on outings. Oh, wait, that's because I'm the one that wanders off and gets lost. Oh, well, let's chalk it up to my appreciation of, rather than attention to, detail.

Scope is defined as the extent of an area or subject matter something deals with or to which it is relevant. Trying to learn better techniques for photographing food, I began to look past the subject matter and to the broader scope within the frame. I'd study a photograph and think, the cake is lovely, but what makes the whole picture so pleasing? This questioning led me to search for stylists and photographers who have no qualms with sharing their tricks and techniques. These people are quite the opposite of the Oz artists, you know the ones, the "pay no attention to the man behind the curtains!" sort. Thankfully, there is plenty of good info out there for creating backdrops, some as simple as using different fabrics, and my new favorite - foam board.

In the three photos here, I used two pieces of black foam board, each a few dollars from the craft store. On one board, I rubbed white chalk gently over the surface and erased it to give a chalkboard effect. I like the way it reflects a soft light back into the photo. The contrast of black makes the food pop. I look forward to experimenting with white and neutral boards for a softer, more feminine effect. The okra became Bhindi Masala, as satisfying to eat as it was to photograph.

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.
- Dorothea Lange

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