Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Do not adjust your sets!

Clutching my tiny Leica in my hot little hand, we take lots of photographs in an impressive indoor market in Niort. Rather curiously Roger informs us, Niort is the Angelica capital of the world, though we saw little evidence of this. I never cease to be amazed in France not just by the sheer quality of the food but the enormous effort they make with the displays. There was a wall of lemons with all the lemons lined up, pointed the same way that must have taken an age to arrange. The fish are not just tipped into a shiny heap but instead carefully lined up with all their heads facing in the same direction making an iridescent carpet of glistening scales. The French laws on privacy are very strict; you cannot photograph someone without their permission and ideally a written release. I'm not concerned by this as I'm not planning to gather a lot of 'Robert Doisneau' style shots of photogenic French couples kissing each other in the street and fortunately, artichokes don’t seem to be camera shy.

However the fishmonger is intrigued by our interest photographically of his wares and modelled his impressive catch for me anyway. He also very kindly briefly liberates a lobster and crab from their tank so we can get a couple of action shots.

(Thank you to K for the inspiration of the 'smiling crab'!)
After all the snapping we went in search of lunch and despite many
possible places being shut we eventually found somewhere where the wafts of garlic beckoned us in. Feeling keen to get a garlicky hit I ordered Snails in a Pastry Case. I was only slightly disappointed when it arrived sans pastry case and instead in the more typical ceramic garlic dish. At least there were lashings of garlic butter to dip my bread into.

As a 'special treat' for me we head for a tomato farm, Roger is feeling deprived after removing them from this week’s menu but after I convince him that I can be in the presence of them as long as I don’t have to ingest he leaps off eagerly! K and I head off to the poly tunnels to take artistic pictures of lettuces (as you do) but rather curiously the owner pounces upon us, as he believes us to be ‘Turkish farmers or spies (or both!) stealing his ideas’! I cannot actually say how far K and I are from looking like Turkish farmers – I am wearing Chanel for God sakes! But it does serve to show that my limited French doesn’t include “we are not Turkish farmers spying on your poly tunnels” and luckily Roger can be torn away from the tomato fields to rescue us. When he realises we a students of digital photography and not remotely interested in agriculture other than aesthetically he eagerly shows us his special tomato houses – oh goody, more tomatoes! Though I am intrigued that to ensure pollination in these huge glasshouses where there is no wind for airborne pollination they ship in boxes of large bees to perform the job. The bees live in little cardboard hives and make a tiny little bit of tomato honey – ugghh! But as tomatoes don’t produce enough sustenance for the bees they have to be fed syrup to keep them working for the good of the tomato harvest.

The afternoon was spent persuading artichokes and mushrooms to pose seductively.

After a day toiling over both a hot camera and equally hot Photoshop we were ready for Roger's meal.

He'd opted for a lighter feast after last night's bathing in both duck and goose fat and we had huge Artichokes in a piquant Vinaigrette, followed by Cep and Girolle Pasta with Cheese and a plate of very fresh Pineapple to finish


I really think with Roger's ministrations that my photography has come on leaps and bounds and I can finally be proud of some of my food photography.

I have to give some of the credit to the Leica also. As I expected, it maybe tiny but size is not everything and it has hidden depths. When I bought my new camera who knew that it would have a food photography setting? I’d seen it in the manual but no one really reads manuals so I just thought it was curious but it does help considerably with adjusting the light and white balance (do I sound more professional?) when shooting under artificial Tungsten light – so now I understand what it’s doing I am going to make fine use of it!

So don't adjust your sets I intend to have many more delectable and mouth-watering photos on this site going forward. Say cheese or maybe artichoke!

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