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. πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

Photography Styling Challenge #8: Patterns

Photography Styling Challenge

Photography Styling Challenge

Patterns – this month’s theme for the photo styling challenge.
Wow! I loved the idea of stylin and shooting something creative and decorative. Yea.. so excited. But I did what I do… procrastinate. Now dear friends, we have to submit the first monday of every month, and here I am… staring at my screen, fidgeting, twiddling my thumb and getting easily distracted by my itchy painful throat and a very sore head. Oh! I am a day late.

I decided to do the challenge with food this time. I spotted a braided bread on one of the blogs I stalk, and I was so eager to try them out. What better way to utilize this month’s theme and give a go to a much awaited recipe?!!
My only hitch was that I could not make variations in the braids to add more to the pattern.

Since my numb head will not let me write any more, without much ado, here are the pictures:

Braids

Braids

Criss Cross

Criss Cross

I made some tiny bite size poppers too

I made some tiny bite size poppers too

petals on patterns

petals on patterns

If you wish to join this lovely challenge, please click on the Photography Styling Challenge button in the side bar.

To check out more creativity, visit my co participants:

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

Would love to hear your feedback/comments/critiques!

Namrata

Photography Styling Challenge #6: Order/Organization

Photography Styling Challenge

Photography Styling Challenge

This month, M chose Order/Organization to shoot for the Photography Styling Challenge. Next month is Chaos. But Order and Chaos go hand in hand. There are two sides to every coin. Love Hate. Life Death. Order Chaos. There is a bit of chaos in order. The line is too light. The transition in a flip. The eclipse, illusionary. The perspective, personal. The result – in the mind. Er.. too deep? Well, not if you think about it.

The more I staged my scene for Order, the more chaotic it looked. It’s like, we try to create order, but chaos still reigns. Sigh. But then he walked in.
‘It sure does look busy’ he muses.
‘But if you look scrupulously, it looks quite orderly’. hmm.. Big help!, I scoff.
Shoot closely. Get intimate was his offhand remark as he walks out. And well, so I did but can you catch any order to my organization?

Hugely inspired by M’s link, I decided to play with some of my most favorite things – Art and Craft Supplies. I’m in the midst of making scrap book of a recent family vacation. I had loads and loads of material, the only thing required was styling and skill to shoot the set up.

The whole big picture looked messy, busy and too chaotic. But a little closer, things seem to make sense. I choose some of my favorite shots for this challenge and post it here for you. A complete picture is averted for obvious reasons.

My love for supplies

My love for supplies

Freshly Sharpened Pencils - who doesn't love them!

Freshly Sharpened Pencils – favorite shot!

Glitter tubes - Arrayed.

Glitter tubes – Arrayed.

Scrap Book in making

Scrap Book in making

Treasuring memories

Treasuring memories

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
Hooked on homes

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

Photography Styling challenge #5 : Bedroom

β€œA picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”
― 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. Β In reflective moments, I’ve concluded that my sense of de clutterΒ is an intrinsic fear to clean more πŸ˜‰

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.Β 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 #4: Morning

β€œLet me wake up next to you, have coffee in the morning and wander through the city with your hand in mine, and I’ll be happy for the rest of my little life.”

― Charlotte Eriksson, Empty Roads & Broken Bottles

This month’s theme of Mornings has got me nostalgic and in a very small way stopped my morning mania and forced me to smell my coffee.

That one elusive cup of brew that I crave to have in peace but so impishly eludes me. That one cup of caffeine which starts on the kitchen platform, moves to the dining table, gets carried to the room, is left on the dresser, a sip less every time it moves. And finally when its cold and dry, a little run in the microwave and back in the comfortable clasp of my fingers, standing in my balcony and sipping in content only to find that not much of it is left.

The challenge refreshed those beautiful lost mornings when my house was smaller, the husband less busy and life not very complicated. Things were simpler, we had less, enjoyed more and a simple coffee made our day – usually, mostly.

I miss those morning moments. Sharing a hot cuppa along with little tit bits of juicy news was adequate to pull us through the day’s daunting tasks. Sigh! But its not the same anymore. In a rush to excel, to fly, to run, I’ve left behind some of life’s simple pleasures.

In an effort to recreate some magic. Lost magic. I set up my room in my idea of an ideal morning. The way I would quintessentially enjoy my morning cup of coffee… where there is no haste or celerity. Where peace reigns and my morning would once again be elementary, uncomplicated and facile. Oh! how I wish.

Shooting this theme was a huge learning experience and of course a whole lot of fun. I did have glitches and hiccups during the styling, shoots and with the props, but four repeated mornings and some close to 120 shots later, I think I have chosen some decent clicks for you. But you know how it is, when you have so many to choose from, its really difficult to pick the right one.

I went experimental and shot half of them in black and white. The results were encouraging and helped me focus on a lot of topics like lighting and placement of props.

To see more pictures, please click here.

To know more about this challenge, click here.

Perfect Mornings

Perfect Mornings

A closer view

A closer view

One of my favorite shots

One in black and white

My most favorite shot

My most favorite shot

Please do check the other wonderful entires to this challenge:

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

Photography Styling Challenge #3 – Wall Vignette

It’s time for another round of photographs.
Wall Vignettes is the theme decided by M, founder-creator of this very challenging challenge. The previous two(Food and Table Setting) had all of us on our toes, till the very end. After stumbling, bumbling and falling(and failing), I had decided I am not going to mess it up again. I shall be fully prepared, in fact well in advance.

But old habits die hard and the fact that, I am particularly not too lucky adds enough salt to my wounds.

I was on a hunt. Aesthetically designed walls, with maybe murals, abstract designing, striking, haphazard yet deceptively organized was what I had in mind.
But my search turned futile most of the times. And whenever I did find something interesting, I had a main element missing – my camera. Now you know why I call myself unlucky.

Well, like the last two times, I scrambled at the very last moment to get something decent enough to put it out there.

M if you are reading this: The challenge details asks us to submit 1-5 photographs of the same subject matter. Does it mean, 1-5 photographs of the same “wall”, as in this month’s theme? Are assorted pictures of different elements but same subject allowed?

I have blogged 5 pictures of different walls. Er.. Hope I adhered to the rule..:)

Here are the following Clicks-

This picture is of my neighboring apartment.
The podium wall has an embossed mural in the shape of a tree, along with huge scattered branches.  I took many shots, but somehow this one where you get to see only a part of the whole thing appealed more than the other clicks.

An Apartment wall Mural

An Apartment wall Mural

Next, since I was on a lookout for something different, other than wall paintings and photographs, my friend suggested this handsome house, which has very interesting wall vignettes and murals. It indeed was a visual treat. My only regret was how I wished I had a better camera!

This particular wall is a part of a narrow passage. with light coming in from the two ends, the long rectangle passage offered very little natural light and space. But it was intriguing and interesting enough for me to not let it go. Hence I try to capture part of it with many lights on(thankfully they were white lights!).

Interesting Vingettes

Very Aesthetic

The house has a fascinating study, where ‘Warli Art’ is beautifully hand painted along the book shelf –

Warli Painting

Warli Painting

An exquisite serene metal embossed Buddha meditates on the other wall:

Striking Buddha Embossed

Striking Buddha Embossed

I chanced upon this art work done temporarily in a friend’s place where they celebrated “Krishna Janmashtami”, birthday of Lord Krishna. The entire set up was far away from natural light, hence after some permutations and combinations, I could get one or two clicks right.

God Krishna surrounded by peacock feathers

Krishna

The other participants of this challenge include:

Redesigned By M
redlovinpixie
At the Corner of Happy and Harried
Pies and Puggles
A Woven Life