The lockdown period has made some of us discover hidden talents, baking being just one of them, so many of my friends and colleagues are showing their baking prowess online – to be fair, some better than others. From Politicians to Celebrities, photos of home made cakes are appearing throughout my social media news feed and I am sure the same applies to you as well.
I’ve been having a go at baking too, the results have been mixed with a good few disasters along the way but I am getting better, with most of my recent attempts being pretty good. Like everyone else I am taking to social media to show off my new found skills in the kitchen, obviously I never talk about the disasters.
So, this got me thinking, I am lucky in that I have a photography skill to make my efforts look their best, not everyone can show their baking off to its best potential and I want to help change that. Mobile phones have pretty good cameras on them these days and I am certainly not dragging my DSLR gear from the cupboard to take a quick snap of my latest victoria sponge so with a little thought, and a decent phone camera, you can take great photos of your baking prowess too.
Stage one – make sure the cake or whatever it is looks good to start with, there is no point in using a sunken banana loaf that is undercooked (which sadly was my last attempt).
Stage two – think carefully about the setting and the background. If your cake is a light brown coloured sponge cake, don’t put it against a light brown coloured background, go and find a lighter area or put it on a white plate. Imagine you are back in your favourite coffee shop, how would they present the cake to you, it would likely be on a plate with a fork beside it so cut it open, neatly, put it on a plate and set a fork beside it, unlike I have done here where I left it on the chopping board.
Victoria Sponge recipe courtesy of Lochside Lodge
Stage three – Lighting, in our kitchen, we are luck as we have bright white LED lights below the cupboards so the worktop area is brightly lit, in fact if you look closely at the above photo, you will see the icing sugar on the top has gone so bright it has lost all detail. Thats a limitation of the phone camera. On that same topic, the area to the right is also out of focus, again another limitation of a phone camera. But lets not worry too much about that
Stage Four – get in close, a photo taken of the entire cake looks bland and uninteresting, just like these scones, nice enough but boring looking, I also broke the brown on brown rule again. However, a wee tip re lighting, if you look at the left hand side of these scones, you will see they are lighter than the right, I used tin foil to create that effect. Take a sheet of foil, crumple it loosely into a ball then open it up again, hold it to one side of your subject and it will reflect light back onto one side, this creates shadow which in turn creates depth.
The second scone photo is not great but more interesting than just a photo of a load of scones on a rack.
Stage Five – Editing, On my phone I use a great app called snap seed, its free and very easy to use. Open a photo in snap seed and you can choose different looks, just play around with it and see what you like. Don’t go too far, over processed photos look terrible, less is more is very much the mantra here. I will try and do a blog post on snap seed separately over the next week.
This is a banana loaf using the recipe from the Cornerstone Deli in Blairgowrie
Don’t be like Angus and break the brown on brown rule but do get in close, cut your cakes open and show them off.
Finally, this is a bit different, this is Macaroni cheese, one of my favourite comfort foods. I was half way through eating it when I decided to take a photo of it so it’s on the table with a glass of water in the background and a fork in the side, being half eaten it also shows off the middle part. I used the tinfoil trick again here.
Good luck with your baking, have a go at taking photos and if you want to send them to me for comment you can do so by putting them on social media and tagging me
Stay safe everyone and please share this post so everyone can get lockdown baking and taking photos