This is my most difficult assignment, EVER. I was so stressed about this challenge, that I almost backed out. Almost.
Table setting, food styling, making things pretty is a herculean task for me. I am no natural. It may sound funny, but I have an eye for beauty and aesthetics but find it immensely difficult to recreate it. And a table setting themed challenge was intimidating to say the least.
I am trying with my little point n shoot, but still have a very very long way to go. Trying is not enough. Have to really buckle up and maybe read more and play around with the camera more. Hence the entry into the challenge, a way to keep me on my toes where the camera is concerned.
A South Indian Table setting
Truth: I forgot about the challenge until Anjana posted hers. My hands were full with in laws coming to visit us for a few days, husband travelling and me falling sick.
Anjana’s entry was a wake up call. Then my absent mind even forgot about the submission date( first monday of every month)… so bad.
M (of redesignedbym) did give me an option to back out or chip in occasionally, and I almost considered it. But I didn’t feel good about it. I wanted to try. I had to do this.
A complete South Indian Meal – on a banana leaf
There are two reasons for my apprehensions:
1. My indoor pictures suck. Big time. I have taken to shoot most of my food on my terrace garden during the day time, but a table setting theme doesn’t give me luxury of setting up a table there. Simply not enough space. And then I decided to do a picnic style theme replete with sandwiches and canapes and Indian chaat outdoor on a mat, not a table. But rains like to play games with poor souls. It was a huge risk. So, that idea went out of the window.
2. My dining table is not very appealing. It is attached from end to the wall, and thus immovable. It is away from many natural sources of light and with all the switches on, the entire setting makes for a very unwanted bright picture. Not nice at all.
After a lot of ‘I can do this, or that.. or wait.. maybe this…. or no no.. this is better’ ideas, I finally zeroed in on a South Indian Themed table setting. The husband argued that South Indians have their platter spread out on the floor… and this was a ‘table’ setting theme, but I still stuck on. Nowadays, the meal is served on tables too.
Use of green banana leaves, white jasmine flowers, orange marigolds got me little excited:
Jasmine braids for little steel tumblers
Since I made such a ruckus, husband and a few friends joined in to help. My bet is that they did their bit so that I would stop whining and cribbing 😉
I planned the menu out, a simple wholesome lunch of some steamed hot rice, spicy sambhar, tangy rasam, crunchy poriyals, fresh kosambari and spiced buttermilk.
I got extra banana leaves and my friend helped me cut out small coasters from them. Red dinner napkins, rolled and tightly knotted with strip long leaves, with a marigold stuck on it, added color to the bed of green.
The highlight for me was my fruit wooden tray, which was scrubbed clean, and layered with clean leaves and then filled with hot steaming rice. It proved attractive and inviting.
Buttermilk, rice and poriyal
It’s all about lighting:
I have no direct chandelier above the table to give direct lighting. There are many myriad fancy lights around the table, hence all need to be switched on, else one portion dulls out and the other stands too bright in contrast. This is one of my most pressing concerns where indoor photography is concerned. There is too little or too much light.
So, what do you guys think? The setting and all was in fact very pleasing and aesthetic. But I was not so happy with the pictures. In spite of trying from varied angles and directions, something was amiss. Too much light? The immovable table? The camera?
Well. I finally tried and put my entry in. That is what I am most relieved of, as of now. It was a huge learning experience, not so much in photography, but in setting the table. The myriad ideas to present food and lay an inviting and delightful spread is surely an art.
Make sure to check out the other participants of this challenge:
At the Corner of Happy and Harried
Inge Kathleen Photography