Behind the Scenes: Contest Cutting Board

I grew up being told not to play with my food. But I still do it anyway.

So yesterday was a morning spent shopping for ingredients. Today was a morning spent building out the idea and taking a lot of pictures.



A few days ago, one of the Instagram folk I follow mentioned the 2017 and John Boos Food Photography Contest. Now, as you may have noticed, I like taking pictures of cutting boards and food. Obviously. I did this first one when I was just starting to build this site.

Cooking real food, in a real kitchen, on a real budget. Visit to join the Supper Club!


And remember this one from the eclipse watching party? (And how, thanks to the clouds, the food ended up being the highlight of that day?)


But I am still learning to take pictures I’m happy with. I have a friend, Peaty, who can spend all of two seconds and snap a shot of a crack in the sidewalk and voilà it’s art worthy of framing. I’ve spent an hour trying to make a tomato recognizable.

I’m learning. I took a good class online. I’ve read a couple of books. And I keep practicing. For a regular blog post I’ll easily shoot fifty pictures and only use three to seven of them.



My camera is an entry-level Nikon D3400 that came with a couple of lenses. It was on sale last Christmas. I also added a 50mm/1.8G lens to the kit.

I try to use natural lighting as much as I possibly can. Sometimes I use an inexpensive piece of foam core board from the hobby store as a reflector.

If I absolutely need a bit more light, I have an inexpensive LED work light which I can throw a t-shirt or napkin over to diffuse the light.

Oh, and a copy of Photoshop software.

That’s it.


Build it

…and they will come. Hungry people, that is. The original idea came from these little cookie cutters I picked up last month. Though I’ll admit, it never occurred to me to use them on meat and cheese! But lo and behold, it actually worked!


It worked even better after the meat, cheese, and cutters spent fifteen minutes in the freezer.


Lots of my favorite different cheeses, some dynamite summer sausage, all sorts of little tomatoes, a handful of cucamelons, and some gherkins. Basically a lot of our favorite things to eat.


You can see the light was not cooperating.


I started out trying to take the shot from overhead while still fighting with the sunlight coming through the clouds. So I climbed up the little ladder we keep next to the pantry and went at it. It wasn’t too bad, but I wasn’t happy yet.

first try photo


I thought it looked nice, but it didn’t make me hungry. It wasn’t … inviting?

So I took another set from a closeup angle and finally got what I wanted. (The picture at the top of this post and the one I am submitting as my entry.)

I also made sure I took a proof of originality shot.


And, fingers crossed, people will enjoy it. But I had a lot of fun and that was the point.

I get to make some art and then we get to eat it. How great is that?

And it was so good.

Take care.

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