I have been so excited to watch your entries come in, with beautiful photos of the things you've cooked and baked for the Delicious-in-Focus contest.
Throughout the entry period I've been snapping my own shots along with you, familiarizing myself with the lovely HTC One (which one of you will be receiving shortly - contest winner announced at end of post!).
These are Hippie Cookies - so named because they're packed with crunchy-granola type ingredients, like flax, oats, rolled barley, millet, sunflower seeds, raisins... and more. Recipe coming shortly!
I did most of my shooting with the macro camera effect I briefly told you about.
You just put what you want inside the focus circle (which you can make bigger or smaller depending on how close you are to your subject, or how much you want in focus) and everything outside it is seamlessly blurred out. Very natural looking, and delivers gorgeous food photos.
The photo below might look familiar...
I was playing with the HTC One while shooting the Weeknight Pulled Pork, and loved the images it produced - so I thought I'd share one. I edited it using the in-camera editing function - you can perform enhancements, straighten a crooked photo, and crop it however you like.
I cropped in tight on this shot and used the "auto enhance" effect.
I made scrumptious Sour Cream Lemon-Blueberry muffins with the intention of freezing half for when baby arrives (only 3.5 weeks left! EEK!). But none actually made it to the freezer.
They were really, reeeeally good. Recipe coming soon.
I have been going from 0 ("comfortable") to "FAMISHED!!!!" in a span of 5 minutes lately. No warning. Just sudden onset ravenousness, accompanied by lightheadedness, fury, and a baby pounding hungrily on my ribs from the inside.
I made this "Moussaka Penne" in a moment of starved panic, from whatever I happened to have on hand. I love happy accidents like this!
It's cinnamon-scented ground lamb in marinara sauce with penne, layered with broiled eggplant and zucchini, and topped with bechamel sauce, mozzarella and parmesan. It was incredible, and I didn't write any measurements down... I failed you.
I wanted to play with the camera a bit in bright outdoor light, too, so I brought my iced mint tea out onto the patio with my reclining lawn chair, sunhat, a cookie and the latest issue Bon Appetit... rough day, I know.
I edited this one with the "cooker" effect (basically a warming filter).
One cool thing I discovered is the ability to adjust white balance. Yes seriously. On a phone camera!
White balance corrects for the temperature of the light, so that the whites in the photo actually appear white - you may have noticed that indoor lighting can cast an unnatural yellowy tint, and natural light can make whites blue-y.
I set the white balance to "daylight" for this granola photo as well as the samosa pie (both recipes to come!) beneath it - you can see it breathed a lovely warmth into the photos. I shoot in natural light, with grey-taupe walls that bounce more cool light onto my scene; adjusting the white balance to "daylight" on the camera made the photos pop right away (I usually have to adjust for the blue cast in photoshop).
A feature I loved but didn't play with here is a super cool little 3 second video called a "Zoe". After you shoot one, you can go back through the video and save the frames as individual photos. It would be perfect for capturing the elusive perfect shot of ice cubes splashing into a glass, parsley showering down onto a plate of hot fettuccine, or hot fudge being drizzled over a scoop of ice cream. Can't wait to try it out. I love when situations necessitate hot fudge sauce.
OK, so now on to the important business at hand - the contest winner! It was a tough decision, with so many gorgeous entries to drool over - like Rhubarb Dutch Pancakes, Black Bean & Sweet Potato Tacos, Olive Oil & Fennel Seed Cupcakes, Spicy Lakhsa and more. But the winner is... drumroll please!
Nireesha Prakash, with her lovely NY-Style Mini Cheesecakes, in Wild Berry & Peanut Butter (what a yummy spin on PB & J!) and Chocolate Pecan.
Judging was based 30% on photographic skill (lighting, composition - angle, subject placement, focus, etc.) and 70 % on food styling & preparation (the scene, props, colours, garnishes, etc.).
I love her choice of overhead perspective, soft lighting, the symmetry of the scene, her beautiful job garnishing those cheesecakes, and the red-pink colour theme that weaves its way through the berry sauce, the adorable plate, and those sweet flowers peeping in.
Congratulations, Nireesha - check your email!