Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Indian Rice Pudding/kheer, I was almost going to sell my camera.

If I have anyone to blame it is my friend Sophia. She started my obsession for rice-pudding, last week she shot an amazing (read bold) image of rice pudding. We started talking about rice pudding and realized there is so much common between our cultures and the symbolic meaning of rice, “ we also use rice as a symbol in our tradition (Bulgaria and Greece) and especially on weddings - symbolizes the pure virgin bride that is fertile to bear lots of healthy children and continue the generations of the family…” Rice in India is a symbol of Brahma, the creator and when you think of Brahma you think of purity and white, the use of rice in wedding as a symbol of prosperity and abundance is not new in our culture. 

We had Ilva join us in our madness. I don’t think I even need to introduce Ilva, she’s an amazing photographer and a great friend. She has taught me how to librate my art, not everything you see needs a critique ( I usually get over critical about my work) - enjoy what you create. That’s what I have learnt from her. …Three girls from three different cultures living in different countries as Ilva puts it, “We are all three expats, Sophia is Bulgarian but lives in Australia, Simi is Indian but lives in USA and I’m as you know Swedish and live in Italy” Three different rice pudding, a recipe that has been passed on to all of us. A thread that binds all humanity food and love. I hope you do enjoy our pudding as much as we enjoyed creating it. 


#RiceKheer, #IndianRicePudding, #RicePudding, #PuddingRecipe #FoodPhotography
 This post was a cause of a lot of heart burn, ( not from the rice pudding) I visualized the raw rice image as a white on white …little did I know what I was asking for. I would get a yellow overcast or a magenta refection and it was not pure white. Finally, after hours of reading on white balance and experimenting, I got the final image the way I visualized it. See the triptych and you will know what I am talking about. 

Who says white has no color, it’s one of the hardest things I have ever photographed. But loved the outcome. The thought of selling my camera did cross my mind when I was struggling to make this happen. 
#RiceKheer, #IndianRicePudding, #RicePudding, #PuddingRecipe #FoodPhotography

You think things would have ended well with the white on white. Not really! It just got worse. I usually visualize my images a day before I shoot, but I think I was thinking am too good for that, watch what happened, I propped all the stuff, took pictures, re- arranged, took pictures, changed prop took pictures, changed direction of light took pictures, changed the complete color palette, took pictures….nothing worked. They were all dull, lifeless lack luster images. By now I had at least a hundred horrible pictures,  since I cannot share hundred here, here are some better ones that were epic fail. (Click more to view). The last image of the first row, was not that bad and I thought it had hope and thankfully am able to post it. It took me eight hours to shoot this post. Was it worth it, every second of it. 
#RiceKheer, #IndianRicePudding, #RicePudding, #PuddingRecipe #FoodPhotography
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

365 Days of photography - July, 2014

I am surprised at myself, seriously! If you walk into my house you will see neutral colors,  you walk into my closet you will see color but nothing that will jump at you. You may not see me in a pair of red pants with a turquoise handbag and shoes ( that could be a great combination, now that I think of it, why not). I am beginning to get compliments on my photography for uniques color pairings, great color sense.  Not my forte really, I am very conventional as far as colors are concerned, try to stay in the norm ( read boring). Photography has opened my eyes to the creative world of colors. Am really getting tempted to buy a pair of turquoise shoes and red hot pants now…profile picture coming soon ;)

Here is the update on my 365 day photo challenge for the month of July, have been wanting to post this for a week. I really don’t see any exceptionally artistic color pairings, but am ready for some color drama in my photography. I am just loving this 365 days of challenge. 

here you go… leave me a comment, would love to know what you guys think. 

 Work from previous months : 

#365DaysOfPhotography, SimiJoisPhotography, #FoodPhotography, #photography

#365DaysOfPhotography, SimiJoisPhotography, #FoodPhotography, #photography

#365DaysOfPhotography, SimiJoisPhotography, #FoodPhotography, #photography
#365DaysOfPhotography, SimiJoisPhotography, #photography

#365DaysOfPhotography, SimiJoisPhotography, #FoodPhotography, #photography

#365DaysOfPhotography, SimiJoisPhotography,  #photography

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Rose Lassi

Lassi/buttermilk  has been my favorite beverage since my childhood, be it salted and mildly spiced or mango or kesar (saffron), you name it and I will gulp it down like a meal. My better half likes to sip his lassi over the course of the meal, savoring the taste with every bite of food. I am more of the gulp kind, I love to have my mouth fill up with gulps of lassi goodness. As a result I end up making a meal out of it and I’m not ashamed to say I have stolen multiple sips from him after I have happily had mine. I have been seen ordering multiple glass of lassi for myself :), you tend to get judged when you do things like that at a fine dining place. But in the comfort of your own home, you could be drinking lassi from a hose or your blender jar…it’s a perk you enjoy with only homemade lassi. 

This lassi is made from gulkand. Gulkand is a sweet preserve made from rose petals. It is available at any Indian grocery store and has a beautiful rose aroma. It has some great health benefits, I am not going to get into the details of that but let’s just say it tastes amazing and is really good for you. 

#Lassi, #Buttermilk, #FlavoredButtermilk, #FlavoredLassi, #RoseLassi, #GulkandLassi

#Lassi, #Buttermilk, #FlavoredButtermilk, #FlavoredLassi, #RoseLassi, #GulkandLassi
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Grilled Green Tomato Salad

It’s August already,  I find time slipping like sand from my fist. I am always conflicted, should I put my feet up and relax and enjoy the pace of life and let things happen when they should, or should I push my passion and make goals and enjoy the adrenaline rush. It’s strange how I can train my mind to do either. But as I grown older with each passing year, I love to push myself, to get more creative, to overcome my fears and to be more flexible and spontaneous. For those who know me personally will find it hard to believe I am not spontaneous.  Well, to be frank I am a hard core planner and if your throw an un-planned agenda at me, it bothers me and I will rant till the cows come home. Ask my better half and he will nod in agreement. Strangely, I have observed that am my best when I don’t think and just do something with a spontaneous flow (I love to over thing), be it photography, cooking or something as mundane as driving twenty miles from your comfort zone (don’t judge me people, but I am quite a chicken when it comes to driving out of my comfort zone).  Planning is a great tool for all my task lists but not my creativity. 

“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.” – Paul Caponigro

There is really no formula for creativity, there is no gadget or lens that can give you the desired results, that will evoke an emotion. Tools can help you express yourself, but how and what you express is your creative journey. 

I had to share this, you all know my obsession with food photography, this last month we had a photography challenge (in our food photo critique group on FaceBook), we had to reproduce an image from a classical painting (still life). The purpose to push our creative boundaries. It was really a creative high and if I may say so myself I was proud of myself. Here is the image, the top one the original painting: Morston Constantine Ream - Still Life Of Fruit And Flute On A Tray. The one below it is my photographic representation of the painting by Morston. 

We had Andrew Scrivani critique it for us and this is what he had to say about my image, “ This one was the one that I thought truly started to blur the line between painting and photography. The incredible softness of the surfaces in the photo really look painted. Also, the creation of this set is remarkable. It must have taken a lot of sourcing to find all of these props. Stunning shot. I am mesmerized by the green grapes in this shot. 


I just love fresh produce and if it did not involve as much work as it does, I would have had a huge part of my yard growing tons of fresh veggies. I just might end up having a huge space just for herbs.  Am in love with my tomato plants, which were gifted to me by a friend. Impatience got the better of me and I could not wait for them to ripe. After I took pictures of the raw tomatoes, I was thinking of making a chutney, but grilled them instead, tossed them in a salad and loved the outcome.

#SimiJoisPhotography, #GrilledTomatoSalad, #Recipe

#SimiJoisPhotography, #GrilledTomatoSalad, #Recipe

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Culinary Optics - Neel from Learn Food Photography: an interview

How does one interview an individual who has interacted with almost all of the top food photographers? Every food blogger knows Neel Chaudhary from Learn Food Photography - everyone! In case you don’t, you are either new to food blogging/photography or you live under a rock. Not only do we know him, but many of us have a secret aspiration to be featured on LFP. As far as I am concerned, it’s no big secret that that’s on my bucket list. (No pressure, Neel.) Jokes apart, what started as a collection of information has grown into a huge data base of knowledge. The site has close to two million hits: that speaks a lot about its readership and his vision for LFP.

It took me some time to frame my questions for Neel. He asked me questions in response to my questions; it was thought provoking even for me. Neel, thanks for all the hours you put in to do this for TNS readers and my column for The Daily Meal. I don’t think the man ever does anything with a casual frame of mind, you can see his effort even as he answers questions for an interview.

A little bit of trivia here: if you ever want to upset Neel, just send him an image of food shot with camera flash. He has mentioned it several times - it really bothers him. If you ask me, I think this is the real reason he started LFP - to send ALL images shot with camera flash into the historic realm of dinosaurs :)

To save the world from flash food photography Neel is hosting a 30 day online food photography workshop. I took this workshop last year and it changed the way I see through the viewfinder. It was really the turning point for me. I am eager to participate this year, can’t wait to see you all there. It starts August 4th. Just for the record, I have never used flash on my food.

Some of Neel’s images and excerpts from his interview.

 Growing up in India there was always a lot to photograph every where. In early days I was more inclined to photographing people and landscapes. In India I come from a city known for its street food and passion for food. The food streets there are massively crowded till 3-4 am every day. Some say people of Indore don’t have blood in their body but sev, pohe and jalebi - a typical Indori breakfast that you can get in every street corner of the city.  That’s how food came into my life - through my blood veins.

"My relation to photography has been very deep and profound. I often find photography very much like meditation. Give me a camera and I wouldn’t care about anything else. Me, my camera and my subject. That is it. Over the years this connection has become very strong and continues to grow. "

"LFP has grown beyond my imagination. With where we are now in the journey I can say that we’ve achieved some success and there is lot more left to be done. There are many friends we need to educate and ask them to please not use that on-camera flash or not to get so close of your food that it feels like a you are seeing a microorganism through microscope.
As I’ve said before elsewhere, every time I see a photo taken with on-camera flash, I cry a little. I can’t sleep at night. (Okay! that’s a joke!) We need a world without on-camera flash photos. Wouldn’t that be a great world to live in.

“Wow!! I am really moved by the megapixels of this photo” Have you ever heard that? or how about “The sharpness of this photo makes me cry”

"The key to an extraordinary food photograph is whether the photograph evokes positive emotions in the audience. I say positive emotions because at the very basic level, that is what food photography is supposed to do. A good food photo needs to invite you to experience the food.

Here is part of the interview exclusive on Turmeric N Spice.

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