Sunday 13 July 2008

Tagged: Top Ten Photos

Food blogging seems an odd activity sometimes when we spend so much time sharing recipes and meals and yet never tasting each other's food. Photos and words have to work hard to compensate.

So I thought it would be interesting (or some might say indulgent) to give you some insight into my photos when I was tagged by both Pixie of You Say Tomahto, I Say Tomayto and Helen of Food Stories for my top ten food photos. I am no expert and my camera is just a point-and-click Canon Powershot A85. Nevertheless, it was not an easy task to pick just 10 photos from 278 posts, even accounting for some spectacularly dodgy photos. These are not necessarily my favourite recipes but are some of my most successful and meaningful photos.

1. Giraffe Birthday Cake
Strangely enough, one of my favourite photos on my blog does not come anywhere near my favourite things to eat. The cake tasted ordinary. The photo was spectacular. My green giraffe birthday cake was the picture I had always wanted for my avatar. I had looked for the right picture but sometimes it isn’t out there and you just have to make it yourself. And did I mention how much I love green!

2. Birthday afternoon tea
My birthday afternoon tea this year allowed me to indulge in baking some favourite treats – chocolate walnut fudge cake, grubs and cheesey almond muffins, plus grapes and Wendy’s lovely green apple tea. Of course I like the colours and textures of the spread as well. This photo is taken during the day at our kitchen table which has plenty of light in summer during the day. Wish I could say the same of the evenings.

3. Reconciliation Dinner
I love a good theme meal and created a dinner to celebrate last year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ Reconciliation Week. I used my childhood barbeques for inspiration and had my first foray into experimenting with Australian indigenous herbs and spices. I presented dinner so it looked like the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag.

4. Winter Solstice Dinner
Last year’s winter solstice dinner was based on the sort of roast dinner my mum used to make, with my nut roast where her roast beef would have been. It is always a pleasure to have the table spread with interesting food, and to have an opportunity to use some of the good serving dishes. E and I often light a small candle while we eat dinner but it is less often that we light up a candelabra. This candelabra is one I bought cheaply as a student and lit at many a share house dinner party. I took the photo at our kitchen table where we eat. Unfortunately it is in a dark corner of our house and not very conducive to food photography in the evening.

5. Peanut Stew with Colourful Vegies
Stews and casseroles taste delicious but they really like look like a pile of mud. My Peanut Stew with Bananas tasted really interesting but you wouldn’t have known it to look at it. I used the time honored trick of adding a garnish. Then I was lucky to find some purple cauliflower which looked so cheerful with some broccoli on the border. I was particularly pleased to pep up the photo because it was for my very first blog event. I also like photographing my dishes with the side vegetables because it gives additional colour and context. This photo is taken in the kitchen directly under the fluorescent light – one of my favourite places for photos when I don’t have any natural light.

6. Mole with Tacos
This photo of my borlotti bean mole with roast pumpkin and silverbeet had the same problem as the above stew. Fantastic flavours but looks like dark mush. So I liked this ‘action’ photo of me holding it in a filled taco. You don’t see much of the mole but that doesn’t matter. You see how it is eaten and in the background is the spread of dishes of accompaniments. This photo is taken in the backyard in summer when we ate outside a lot and had long hours of daylight for photography.

7. Still Life with Fruit
Much as I love chocolate, this picture was really all about the fruit. Fresh fruit is one of the most beautiful images in the kitchen. But I still thought some linen and a gorgeous bowl would add pleasing colour and contrast. The bowl was purchased in Istanbul about 10 years ago and is the one I usually keep my fruit in. The condensed milk fudge sauce was also delicious but it was cold in this photo so I could shoot in daylight, rather than warm and gooey for dipping chunks of fruit in.

8. Vampire Birthday Cake
Another of my favourite novelty cakes is the vampire cake because E requested it for his birthday last year and I created it without any template to follow. I had been thinking of starting a blog and this was the tipping point. I wanted to share it partly because I was proud of it and partly to share it with others. I hope that it will give some guidance to others like me who are asked to make a vampire birthday cake. This was my first blog entry and unlike the giraffe cake, the actual cake recipe was one of my favourite gluten free cakes I have made.

9. Posh Butter Biscuits
Biscuits and cookies come into a category of seen-one-seen-them-all (see here if you don't know what I mean by biscuits). They are not that attractive alone and need context or props. I always enjoy seeing how bloggers present them. I like this picture of Butter biscuits with cocoa nibs and candied orange because I think it gives a feeling of airy lightness which is echoed in the taste of the biscuits. It also gives me some satisfaction because when I baked these biscuits they all spread and stuck together in odd shapes but I managed to stack them in such a way that they looked like lovely round biscuits. Was anyone fooled?

10. Pancakes for Brunch
One of the joys of posting about brunch foods is that there is lots of daylight for photographs. You can see this in my photo of oaty pancakes with berries. I also like it because the close-up shows the texture of the pancakes and the light captures the lovely deep reds of the berries.

I am not going to tag anyone but would welcome hearing from anyone who is interested in doing a top ten of their photos.


  1. The fun thing about this is that I remember many of these photos and posts. As you said, we all share our recipes and meals and yet from a distance-- but this morning I find myself thinking, "oh I remember that Giraffe cake! and that stew! Yum!" just as if I had been there to eat them. :-)

  2. Loved learning about the background to all the photos! The fruit w/ choc sauce photo is gorgeous, and how lovely to hear about the bowl. And your wee giraffes in the afternoon tea pic--how adorable!! I agree about stew=mud, too. And I use the same trick as you with the only fluorescent light in our house, the stove light!

    It was fun to see all of these again and read the stories, but I have to admit that your green giraffe is still my favorite, too!

  3. your pics are so fun. gotta love that vampire cake!!!

  4. I think your Giraffe cake is definitely my favourite, but I enjoyed looking through the entries. Boy do those cookies look light! You have also reminded me that I wanted to make that Mole. I might take up the challenge, it is a good one as I never feel I have much to say in a meme, but this one is a bit different.

  5. Hi Johanna - I'm so glad you did this! I had no idea you make the most awesome cakes! The giraffe really is something special. A great 10 picks I think.

  6. You are always so creative with your cake my dear!

  7. Wonderful photos. I think it's the memory behind a photo that carries so much meaning and that's what's so valuable about. Then there are those very few that are just technically perfect. Love all of these but those two cakes are pretty special!

  8. That Vampire...he's so much fun!

    Isn't it amazing how much we all learn from taking photos - I adore that natural light in your images.

    Fav? For me it's the Reconcilliation Dinner. But then it is hard to choose. Might just take you up on this...

  9. thanks Gay

    Thanks Ann - it does feel like a photo succeeds when it gives a feel for the taste of a meal - unlike those frustrating moments when a meal tastes good and the camera disagrees!

    thanks Ricki - a friend has downlighting in his newly renovated kitchen and I found myself thinking how excellent it would be for food photography! I thought this post was a nice excuse to talk about some things that get overlooked in posts

    thanks Bee - Glad you share my fondness for the vampire - actually I think I was inspired by a cartoon pic I found on the web

    thanks Holler - would love to see your top 10 photos and it is a fun meme to do because photography is the unsung hero of food blogging

    thanks Helen - I like this meme also because it alerts others to meal they might not have seen - I have found some recipes through seeing others do this meme - glad you have discovered some of my cakes (and thanks for the tag)

    thanks Anh - nice to see you back in the blogosphere!

    Thanks Tanna - yes, I am more about meaning than technical perfection - but I just tell myself it gives a photo a heart!

    thanks Lucy - it is interesting to compare the photos and see the difference that natural light makes - hope you do take up the challenge as would love to see your top 10

  10. My favorite is #7, Still Life with Fruit, but they are all wonderful.

    Great blog!

  11. thanks Katie - I think I agree with you about the still life with fruit being one of the best


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