Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the fantastic #BakedinStyle food styling and photography workshop at L’Atelier des Chefs sponsored by Currys and Neff.
I have been blogging for around 5 years and the pictures I took when I started blogging are truly terrible. The recipes may be delicious but even I look back at my pictures and cringe! I have improved a lot since I started but I know I have a lot to learn. Until recently I used a small compact camera but earlier this year after my birthday I treated myself to my first DSLR, a Canon EOS 1300D. I was immediately impressed by how much better the pictures are. Even so, I mainly use the auto functions and still have a lot to learn about both photography and food styling. That’s why this event was just perfect for me.
The kitchen at L’Atelier des Chefs
The event included 3 main activities: baking a delicious hazelnut torte, learning a little more about photography, especially being encouraged to step away from the auto function and finally it covered the basics of food styling.
After being welcomed at L’atelier des chefs with coffee and delicious canapés we split up into teams and watched a demonstration of how to make the hazelnut torte by chef, Fabrizio. It really is a perfect cake for autumn with flavours of hazelnut and coffee and filled with lightly stewed apple and apricot jam, although as @CakeandWhisky said, it would also be fantastic with a Nutella filling!
Chef Fab at work
I’ve rarely had oven envy before but somehow the Neff team managed to provoke it as they demonstrated how the sleek Neff Slide and Hide Ovens with Pyrolytic Cleaning worked. The door slides underneath the oven when you open it and they even have a handy drawer at the top for adding water and cooking with steam.
The Neff Ovens
Anyway, as we left the ovens to do the work of baking our cakes, there was a photography presentation by photographer and stylist, Carole Poirot of Mademoiselle Poirot. Although I have played around with my camera a little since getting it, there is often so little time that I am guilty of just leaving it on the food setting and not being adventurous enough with it. I found it great to have a little time to experiment without other demands.
Experimenting with my camera and taking photos of the props
The main point I’ve taken away from the event was that if you’re moving away from auto for the first time, then putting the camera on the Aperture Priority setting is the easiest one to experiment with first. You then just need to set the F. and the ISO. First set the ISO. If there’s less light, you’ll need a higher number. Then set the F. and for now I’m tending to use F.4 as it’s good for focusing on one particular thing and then giving a slightly blurry background. I’m sure a more experienced photographer would have picked up a lot more but as a novice this was enough for me! Now I just need to keep experimenting!
Once our cakes were baked we finished them off by filling them with the cooked apple pieces and apricot jam. Yummy!
Chef Fab filling his cake with apples and apricot jam
Mademoiselle Poirot then led a food styling presentation. A lot of the points were things you would know instinctively if you were trying to make a recipe look good for the camera. Even so, I found it helpful to think about these things consciously as I tend to be rushing to take pictures and often haven’t thought about presentation until the moment I take my camera out to photograph a dish. The main points were to balance the picture in terms of colour, scale and proportion, texture and movement and in doing so, make the picture tell a story.
Mademoiselle Poirot styling her cake
To make the picture tell a story, a mixture of props can be used such as ingredients from the cake, cooking utensils and items from nature, which connect the cake to the right time of year. In our finished styled cake you can see leaves, hazelnuts, apples and a cake slice.
Our finished relatively minimalist styled cake
Personally what I really need to do now is think about the styling before I get to the photography stage. This may involve having enough ingredients to use some as props or maybe not rushing to do all the washing up as soon as the meal is in the oven!
I have to say that this cake and the styling was not all down to my own handiwork, but thank to the three other bloggers in my team, Jacqui at Recipes Made Easy, Sandra at Cake and Whisky and Lucinda at Books Bakes and My Boys.
Overall I had a fantastic day. I made a delicious cake, learned some really useful photography tips and met some lovely people who I hope to see again at future blogging events. What could be better on a rainy Saturday afternoon? All that remains is to thank the lovely Joe Blogs team for organising it all and if you want to know more about the statistics of #GBBO and the rise in the popularity of baking then do take a look at this fascinating article too.
- 110g butter
- 110g caster sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- 110g self-raising flour
- 15ml milk.
- 1tsp instant coffee
- 2-3 dessert apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 2 tbsp apricot jam
- Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
- Icing sugar (for decoration)
- Grease and line and 20cm cake tin.
- Cream the butter and sugar together.
- Beat the egg yolks in.
- Add the self raising flour.
- Dissolve the coffee in the milk. Fold into the cake along with the hazelnuts.
- Beat the egg whites until they hold their shape.
- Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture then transfer it to the cake tin and smooth the top.
- Bake at 170c for 25-30 minutes. Let it cool then slice it in half.
- While the cake is baking, prepare the apples by cooking them in a saucepan with the apricot jam, lemon zest and juice. Cook them down quite a lot or just a little if you want them to hold their shape. Leave to cool.
- Fill the cake with the apple and apricot mixture. Add extra apricot jam if necessary.
- Dust the top with icing sugar.
I am linking to Brilliant Blog Posts at Honest Mum.