Photography Styling Challenge #12: Personal

Photography Styling Challenge

Photography Styling Challenge

I signed up for the challenge without batting an eyelid. I never usually do things like that. I am a very conscious girl to the point of being negative, that I review the decisions I have taken a million times before actually taking them. So when I signed up for this.. so simply, I knew I had myself in trouble! But impromptu choices like these are what make my life so interesting. Stumble and fall I did in the first few, then a few encouraging words from M, a bit of practice, a bit of reading and observing and I find myself actually loving it! I finally enjoyed the process and yeah, the results too. ๐Ÿ™‚

So the finale is to be shot with anything or anyone you consider Personal. The theme is vast and so I was pretty clueless for some days. But here is my take on the concept.
I have been journalling snippets of my life. Though not as regular as I would like to be, I still write when something special happens to me. Happy moments and some sad. Few successes and some failures. The beauty of life and its ugly side…my journal has seen it all. Emulating the mother, my 7 year old daughter jots down precious moments too – of course in her diary.

Here are a few typical scenes from the table:

My Study

My Study

My glasses hold a very special place at the writing table!

Can't do much without them

Can’t do much without them

So, she barges in when I am trying to do a shoot, insists on laying her diary and paraphernalia too.

She writes too :)

She writes too ๐Ÿ™‚

Now that is my favorite pen, a fine micro tip gel.

Personal

Personal

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. To check out the other participants, click here:

Redesigned By M
At the corner of Happy and Harried
Inge Kathleen Photography
City Girl Searching
The Delicious World Of Chefette Spicy
A Tree Grows In The Bayou
I Live Under A Rock Called Table Mountain
Hooked on homes
Samta Photography
Miss Wang Photography
SimplyVegetarian777
Coconut Craze

So what started off unpremeditated and turned out painful and despairing in the beginning, ultimately proved to be fruitful, gratifying and a wonderful experience for me. I am just so glad I could be a part of this. This is the last post of the challenge. I hope M comes up with another series of such challenges, and again I would be a part of it, without batting an eyelid ๐Ÿ™‚

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Disclosure, Photography Secrets Revealed – Guest post on The Tummy Tale.

Hello Dear Friends,

Elson asked me to do a guest post for his on-going How To series. I was excited and eager. Elson writes beautifully and his love for food is evident in his words and his posts. Well, he wants me to cover a topic which brings out the biggest critic in me. He loves the pictures that I take and I for one am highly critical of my own work.

We eat with our eyes first. A picture speaks a thousands words. Quotes like these kick me in my butt every time I shoot my food. If truth be told, I have drooled over and stalked many a sites purely for their outstanding photography. Desperately trying to figure out styling and photographing ideas, I struggle and stumble with my limited resources. They say you can take excellent pictures even with the most basic digital camera, you really don’t need an SLR. So with that motivation, I make use of the resources around me. I try to take shots where each picture tells a story of its own. I aim really high, and for those who frequent my blog know that I still have a very long ladder to climb.

Still, in spite of all this, the little that I have learnt in my one year stint, I would love to share it with you. Thank you Elson for giving me this wonderful opportunity.

Let’s get started –

1. The camera –

I have the most basic one. Learn to ditch the auto mode and start fiddling with the manual settings. Learn all about ISO, aperture, shutter speed and white balance. Read all about it here. Just learning the basics can have an alarming difference in the quality of your photographs.

Doesn't really matter what you have.

Doesn’t really matter what you have.

2. Light/Setting/Studio –

Ideal food pictures are shot in studios or you could make one for yourself. Since I don’t have the expertise or the space for it, I mostly go natural, that is, take my pictures out in our terrace garden or in the balcony.

I play by one basic rule… lighting. Too much light spoils a photograph, too little makes for a very dark one. Inside the house, there is glass and shiny surfaces which reflect a lot of light rendering a not so good picture. Evening or night times with the tungsten bulbs all on, again the picture quality suffers.

So, I prefer taking my food cutlery and all to the garden outside my house which is covered by walls on either side and a roof on top. Light flows in only through one side making it ideal for my photographs.
The best time I have noticed is mornings and early evenings as the sun rays are warm and not so harsh. Once it gets dark, I refrain from photographing.

The terrace is covered on 3 sides and only has light coming in from one. Ideal for photographs

The terrace is covered on 3 sides and only has light coming in from one. Ideal for photographs

3. Background Props/Boards and Work Surfaces –

You can surely make mundane boring food look sexy and gorgeous. I secretly lust for props like these. But we make do with all that we have and can find, coz buying antique and silver ware is not easy on our pockets.

What we can do is make optimal use of stuff at home. Do not ignore old well used scratched metal or wooden trays. My garden provides me with a wonderful wooden bench ideal for placing my food.

My work station :)

My work station ๐Ÿ™‚

Old baking trays, an extra board of laminate left or your child’s wooden study table, all make great backgrounds.

They make great backgrounds. The older, the better!

They make great backgrounds. The older, the better!

4. Cutlery and China ware

Now for the food to be placed in. Silver, brass, antique and expensive crockery make great photographs – FACT. Decrepit copper bowls or cups make excellent pictures. Your red sauce would look more sanguinary in rich china ware. But since they are difficult to procure, I have found solace in inexpensive china ware, mostly in white!

White bowls, chutney pans, cake mounts, platters – buy them in white, as food displayed on it looks best. Visit your dollar store or your local market and pick one of all the serve ware that you use. It will be mostly enough to complete a pretty picture.

Keep an open eye for newer variety of cutlery or forks or platters, especially when you are traveling. I usually get very good stuff where I am least expecting it.

One look at my crockery section and you can see how WHITE it is ๐Ÿ™‚

white dominates

white dominates

An attractive wooden soup bowl often makes very good pictures. Be it rice or some curry or stew or soup, it serves as a perfect container to be photographed.

One good pair of soup bowls is a must

One good pair of soup bowls is a must

5. Other props

So its been a year or so since I have started blogging, and I have collected twines, twigs, coils, brown shopping paper bags, ribbons … anything you name. My most prized finds are these small cute little gunny bags which we use here in India to gift or as wedding favors. One time, my MIL was coaxing me to take a pair of beautiful anklets which she got as a party favor, but I was more interested in the bag. ๐Ÿ™‚ I let her have the anklet and was ecstatic with the little bag.

Essential props

Essential props

Scarves make such pretty pictures! I use my colorful stoles as a mood enhancer in plain pictures. Your child’s little toys can prove to be a wonderful place to pick your ware from. I have used Milee’s toy spoons and little plates and no body could tell. ๐Ÿ™‚

scarf in a basket

scarf in a basket

Crumpled baking paper or brown paper makes very good background for your baked food dishes. So you baked a beautiful loaf of bread? Now wrap part of it with brown paper and twine, set it against a well crumpled baking paper and there you have a great picture waiting to be captured!

Paper, Ribbons and Twines

Paper, Ribbons and Twines

Use your dish cloth, or apron or kitchen napkins and dinner napkins to good use by laying them in an informal way against the food.

Creatively use the dish cloth

Creatively use the dish cloth

6. Important Pointers/Tips

  • The first on my list is to pull back. A newbie photographer will have the impulse to “move in” on their subject. Get that beautiful crumbly crust of a muffin as close as can be. But really, the most beautiful shots are when you can “pull back” from your subject and make the intended focal point “pop” as opposed to “fill the shot”. It’s a simple phrase to remember when shooting: “pull back” – taken from here.
  • Think of what you want to do, how you would like to shoot, what cutlery you would like to use. Imagine. Create a scene. First in your head and later on paper. Roughly sketch it up, so that you have a clear vision when you execute it. I am going to be honest, I don’t always do this step, but all those times when I plan and create, the results are much better than expected.
  • Partial photographs of food look more enticing than the whole picture. I learnt this a tad late.
  • Rule of Thirds – The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts. The lesson is that a direct face-on, centered shot is not always the most interesting or pleasing to the eye. You want your photo to have movement and flow. Basically it means, you place your focal point of interest not in the middle but on the intersections of the imaginary lines, that is, on the sides of the pictures. Here is a good tutorial on the rule of thirds.
  • Color and shapes are a great way to add beauty to your scene. But be subtle. For example, if it’s a very plain looking dish, try and season with a twig of some bright green herb or if it’s a dessert, which looks very boring, fruits or sugar dust or drizzled sauce can create a very inviting atmosphere.

So with all said and done, here is one of my most favorite shots –

Choliya / Fresh Green Channa

Choliya / Fresh Green Channa

Thank you Elson for giving me this wonderful opportunity to write and share my stint with photography basics. I would not have had the courage to do it ever but this guest post makes me contribute, share and help many a novice newbies out there, drooling and lusting after those gorgeous food photographs ๐Ÿ™‚

Photography Styling Challenge #9: Fashion

Photography Styling Challenge

Photography Styling Challenge

This month’s theme for the photography styling challenge is Fashion. Now fashion sure is interesting but really vast and comprehensive.
Ideally I would have loved, if I had some beautiful model to work with, but guess I need that kind of skill to photograph a stunning face too. And I, my dear readers, am still an amateur.

So I play safe and go with some of my favorite junk jewelry and my two most loved scarves for the shoot. I decided to picture on white background – a first for me.

Well, I have to be honest here, I have started enjoying these monthly challenges and it gives me greater pleasure when a theme challenges my creativity. I did enjoy the shoot this time butย somehow am not that elated with the results. I think I could have done it better. Maybe I will do another shoot and this time with a pretty face ๐Ÿ™‚ But for now, this is what I have –

Charm Bracelet

Charm Bracelet

Hand Painted Scarf along with my favorite natural stone neck piece

Hand Painted Scarf along with my favorite natural stone neck piece

Big Ben on my scarf :)

Big Ben on my scarf ๐Ÿ™‚

My favorite ring

My favorite ring

Junk Jewelry

Junk Jewelry

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. To check out the other participants, click here:

Redesigned By M
At the corner of Happy and Harried
Inge Kathleen Photography
A Woven Life
City Girl Searching
The Delicious World Of Chefette Spicy
A Tree Grows In The Bayou
I Live Under A Rock Called Table Mountain
Hooked on homes
Mera Kitchen

If you would like to join in the fun please click on the photography styling challenge button in the sidebar!

To see my previous challenge entries, click here

Hope you all have a beautiful day!

Namrata

Photography Styling challenge #5 : Bedroom

โ€œA picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.โ€
โ€• Diane Arbus

This month’s Photography Styling Challenge required us to shoot Bedrooms. The bedroom theme is the first theme to really highlight true interior styling/staging. We have a living room coming up later, but bedroom it is now.

Now, like it happens in all my challenges, I freaked out for this one too. Diwali preparations and my child’s annual day rehearsals added to the mania.

To shoot interiors can get very very challenging especially for novice photographers like me. I like to believe I was born without an aesthetic sense of styling, so my fears are compounded when I am required to stage or style. If you ever happen to visit my house, you will notice we don’t clutter and have spare, minimum furniture. No fancy vases, no lamps. Not many decorative pieces. Sigh. ย In reflective moments, I’ve concluded that my sense of de clutterย is an intrinsic fear to clean more ๐Ÿ˜‰

Well, after myriad arrangements, stylings and shoots, here I am choosing my simplest photograph. I shot this initially and later went on to stage but after some very frustrating, harrowing innumerable moments with the stuff inside the room, somehow, this picture just spoke like a thousand words(quoting Bonaparte).

I have a host of adjectives describing this single photograph of mine but would love to read your interpretations.ย So what does the shot say to you, does it tell a story or has it made you curious or is it too plain and boring. Anything.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

To check out posts of other participants:

Redesigned By M
redlovinpixie
At the corner of Happy and Harried
Inge Kathleen Photography
Pies And Puggles
A Woven Life
City Girl Searching
The Delicious World Of Chefette Spicy
A Tree Grows In The Bayou
I Live Under A Rock Called Table Mountain

If you would like to join this challenge, click on the Photography Styling Challenge button in the sidebar and join in the fun!

Wishing all my readers a very Happy Diwali and a Prosperous New Year!

Photography Styling Challenge #1 – Food

A photography challenge could not have come at a better time. Exploring the nuances, techniques, styling, plating, lighting…( I could go on and on) has me hooked on to the camera .. like all the time!

Redesigned By M and Red Lovin Pixie, 2 amazing beautiful blogs, have issued a monthly Photography Styling Challenge starting in July. This month’s theme is FOOD(What a way to kick start a challenge!).
The rules are simple. No photo editing apart from cropping is allowed.

I chanced upon their amazing invite through another blogger friend Anjana of “Happy and Harried” fame. Anjana has posted interesting inviting pictures of her simple vanilla cake served with tea. Very English.
Grabbing this opportunity, I decided to chip in too. I have been fiddling with my camera for sometime now. Time to test it a little.

I baked a Dark Double Chocolate Walnut Brownie today(recipe to be posted later). The pictures were clicked on my terrace garden in the afternoon. I clicked several pictures, but since the requirement was that of pure unadulterated photographs, I have only a few to send to the challenge.

Making use of the abundant natural light, here are some of the pure shots:

Sinful Indulgence

Sinful Indulgence

A close up:

Dark Double chocolate walnut brownie served with warm milk

Dark Double chocolate walnut brownie served with warm milk

One with a tilt:

Hello Kitty eyes the treat

Hello Kitty eyes the treat

And a couple of unadulterated shots from a very recent post of mine:
Date Nuts Fig Energy Rolls

Again shot on my terrace garden –

Simple, beneficial, nutritious

Simple, beneficial, nutritious

Up close:

 salubrious layers

salubrious layers

Well.. this is it. I have a point and shoot Canon SD1300. The ISO was on Auto when I took the pictures(a mistake? any suggestions?). Hoping to fine tune my clicks and learn a lot through innovative challenges like these!

Please do check out beautiful photographs over at:

Redesigned by M
Red Lovin Pixie
At the corner of Happy and Harried

Love,
Namrata