Beef stew and mushrooms color problem

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by redbourn, Apr 28, 2016.

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  1. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Recently decided to go through all the photos that I have for my book in order to find out which ones are good enough and which ones I need to reshoot.

    This photo is kind of problematic because it's hard to see the mushrooms. But reshooting it wouldn't help because stewed beef and mushrooms are so close in color.

    Imagine this in maybe a 7"x7" photo in a cookbook.

    I can't separate the meat and mushrooms because it's a stew.

    Any ideas?

    Braised Beef and Mushroom Stew

    Prep time 10 min
    Cook time 1 hour 20 min
    Total time 1 hour 30 min

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    2 lbs, 900g beef sirloin or chuck, cut into cubes
    2 lbs, 900g roughly chopped white mushrooms or mushroom of choice
    3 cups beef, beer or vegetable broth
    10 oz, 280g cream of mushroom soup or substitute
    1/4 cup tomato paste
    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    2 tsp dried parsley flakes
    1/2 tsp dried oregano
    1 1/2 tsp coarse salt or to taste
    1/4 tsp ground black pepper or to taste
    4 cloves garlic, crushed
    Butter or olive oil

    Rub salt and ground black pepper into the beef and let it stand for 10 minutes.
    Fry beef for 3 to 5 minutes in oil or butter until meat is light brown.
    Set beef aside and fry mushrooms, onions and garlic until mushrooms are soft, about eight minutes.
    Return beef and cook for 2 minutes more.
    Add tomato paste, parsley, oregano, and broth and bring to a low simmer for around 90 minuntes
    Check once in a while, and add more stock if needed.
    Add cream of mushroom soup, and stir for 2 to 3 minutes.
    Transfer to a serving plate, share and enjoy!

    Goes well with tagliatelle.

    * Cream of Mushroom Soup - Substitute
    10 oz, 280g milk or 18-20 cooking cream
    2 fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
    1/4 cup all purpose flour
    2 tbsp butter
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1/4 tsp coarse salt

    Heat butter and oil then add flour and salt, stirring to make a roux (paste).
    Add mushrooms and cook about a minute, just to soften.
    Add milk or cream and stir until thickened. Stew and mushrooms.jpg


     
  2. chuasam

    chuasam Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Your garnishing is sharp, your main ingredient isn't :(
     
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  3. Rick50

    Rick50 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I agree with the sharpness comment. This may be why the noodles don't look right to me. Not sure. Might be the lack of shadows on the noodles as well.
     
  4. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    Get the right equipment, lens in this case, learn how to style and then light your subject, and how to determine the appropriate DoF.
    Do you use black flats to subtract light?
     
  5. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Maybe a lens problem.

    A Nikkor and not a Nikon.

    Thanks for responding.

    Sadly my Nikon D3300 doesn't show DOF - if I'd know the shortcomings, I would have spent a $100 more.

    The difference between the parsley and the meat must be 1/8 of an inch at most so not sure if even manual focus would help.
     
  6. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    thanks for the response.

    Since the distance, depthwise, is a 1/4 difference maximum.

    How can I solve this!
     
  7. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'm going to be very blunt: You're still thrashing about blindly hoping to 'get it right'. That's not going to work. You need to actually study and learn the theory. This would be no different than me getting some noodles and cubed beef and hoping to produce a dish like you show above by guessing at times/ temperature, etc. I would get something, but it would probably taste like Hades and not look anything like the polished plates you're producing. You're using a lot of knowledge, practice and experience to produce the meals... Photography is no different. There's the theoretical side and artistic side.

    You need to take the time to learn the theoretical side; how to control depth of field, lighting theory, etc, etc. The artistic side is coming along, but you don't seem to be putting the effort into the theoretical You know what your set-up was, how far the lens was from the plate, and what aperture was used, therefore you can easily determine your DoF, and whether or not it was sufficient.
     
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  8. chuasam

    chuasam Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I don't often agree with tired iron but he got it Perfectly right here

    Take a class in food photography.

    It's not the Camera. It's understanding plating and how to make food look good.

    [​IMG]shot with a point and shoot right before eating it haha

    OK my point is to style your food but make it look like we just chanced upon it
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
  9. astroNikon

    astroNikon 'ya all Bananas I tell 'ya Supporting Member

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    This has been rehashed in all of your other threads.

    I believe you bought the Lighting Bible book. You just need to read more of it and experiment with each diagram with something.

    For lighting though it can understood far more easily in a basic concept.
    Grab a bright flashlight. And go to a mirror. See how at angles the light reflects off of the mirror. If you are directly in front of it it will blind you .. thus what is happening to the sensor with direct reflected light. Now use some object, notice the reflections off of the object.

    If you take an translucent milk jug and cut out panels of the translucent white panels. Put a panel in front of the flash light. Notice the dispersion of light now, much softer. This is diffusion. Try 2 panels now but separated. Notice how much softer it is, and less reflected the light becomes against the mirror or a object. This is what you need to do with the food to minimize reflections. Even practice bouncing the light off of a white wall onto a subject, another method of diffusion with and without a diffusion panel in front of the light.

    With DOF, as mentioned. grab a tape measure and use a DOF calculator. Measure from your focus point (in AFS-S right?, tripod, remote release.) It will become easier the more you calculate it A Flexible Depth of Field Calculator.

    Each plate may have a slightly different lighting setup depending upon shadows, etc.
    Maybe take notes on each setup that you take (take a camera phone pic of it for your records) and then evaluate changes.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
  10. redbourn

    redbourn No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree with you and with others who are posting similar things.

    Plating is slightly different because I think much of that is personal taste.

    Below is a reply that I posted to you just now about specular lights.


    Have been bettering my PS and LR skills which is good but would obviously be better if I got the photo better in the first place.

    I am moving to another town in Portugal next week and will have a separate room for photography with a lot of natural light.

    So I need to read up on using natural light too.

    I will take a couple of weeks off shooting the photos in order to get a better understanding of the basics.

    Thanks.
     
  11. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    Using window light is going to substantially increase the complexity of lighting food adequately.
    Combining window light with constant or strobed (flash) light will add yet another level of complexity.
     
  12. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I made that same comment on this very same picture when he posted it a few month ago...
     
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