Monday, February 20, 2012

Shooting Continental China

Images for this project varied from slightly abstract, to closeup to styled food. The image on the right is Jean's Caprese Salad. Yes, all the food tastes as good as it looks. (C) Danie Nel Photography cc

So a while back, Jean Nel, Lindi, his assistant, and I got together to do some additional images for Continental China's new website, and future print media. Last year, no in fact, 2010, in conjunction with the good people at Bletchley Park , we did the initial catalogue shoots.
Tearsheet from the Continental catalogue, 2010

Philip, my assistant at  the time, had the lovely task of deep-etching in the region of 500 pieces of crockery. To say that his pen-tool skills became marvelous would be understating the fact. The styled images were so well received by the client, that they ended up printing hords of the images as decor for their factory office, and banners for all their exhibitions and general PR and marketing use.

Also, around the time of doing the latest shoot, Clay Ant Creative pulled together the beautiful new site, to tie into the printed book catalogue. Our new images would now augment the older ones, web first, and once another print run is made, the images will go into the book.

Tearsheets from the Continental China website, featuring my work. Design by Clay Ant Creative. Styling by Jean Nel and Susan Bosman.
This time around it was a 2 day shoot, as we were not building the whole catalogue up from scratch, but just adding on. I won't bore you too much with details, as there wasn't much, except that the food was good, we laughed a lot, we didn't break plates, and Jean nearly fainted at the unadulterated beauty of his Caprese Salad. Having finished the deep-etching and product images a couple of days before, I was familiar with most of the product and also ready to get into some creative image making.
Herewith some images, memories and insights:

The beauty of working in your own studio. Comfort.
Fresh ingredients are a must for shooting food. (C) Danie Nel Photography cc
Keeping the focus on the plate and product is not always that easy with beautiful food adorning it! (C) Danie Nel Photography cc

Things can get manic in a studio with all the prepping and setups taking place.

Jean doing his thing.

Here I am, not doing my thing, yet. Jean is still prepping.

Jean and Lindi. They are quite an effective outfit.


Scattered "collection" shots are needed for general design. (C) Danie Nel Photography cc

I'm still not sold on squid-ink pasta. Black pasta just seems weird to me, but it looks great in a plate. (C) Danie Nel Photography cc
(C) Danie Nel Photography cc


Next time, we'll head back to the Zambezi, for part 4 of The Zambezi, Luxury and Food.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Mighty Zambezi, Food & Luxury Pt. 3

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Royal Chundu Lodge, Zambia: After stepping off the boat we were ready to have some food stuck in our faces. And loll about while waiting. For guys like Clayton Morar this was used furtively updating Facebook statuses, submitting stories, Tweeting and keeping up with work at home. I decided early on that I wasn’t going to worry too much about what’s going on at home. Except a call to my kids every night, I purposely decided to focus on the job at hand. Chill-working.

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The good folks at Blaauwklippen was kind enough to send along some bottles of their aperitif, Before and After , a deliciously yummy sweet wine, with rose notes and all sorts of other wine tasting jargon that means “lekker”. They also supplied us with some Potstill Brandy and Zinfandel, a Californian favourite, made here in Stellenbosch. This set the tone for before and after dinner drinks, with some people opting for some cocktails instead. Zambia2011__0350What was in store for us was quite a treat, Zambia style! We were escorted to the dining area, outside, much like a lapa for us of South African persuasions. Don’t however assume that means Kurt Darren blaring from a hi-fi atop the lapa-bar, a Blue Bulls jersey mounted somewhere or braaivleis. Not that there is anything wrong with any of the above per se, but this is not what we got. We got a David Livingstone daydream:

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And we got food. This was our opportunity to taste some Zambian delicacies, while Jenny was going to cook up the next evening’s menu. For those of you not residing in Africa, I wish to highlight that although outdoor living is a huge part of South African culture, it’s not like we get to do outdoor dining every day of the week, except the mandatory braai, which is for all practical purposes an organised religion. We live in urban, sanitised environments with frozen foods and Grey’s Anatomy, like most other people.

Zambian food draws from somewhat East African flavours, despite being landlocked, with prawns and the like being prominent, along with local fish from the Zambezi, like tiger-fish.  European influences by now is felt all through Africa, because of Portuguese, Dutch, German, English and French colonisations through the past two centuries bringing cuisine onto the continent and marrying it with the local produce. Zambia2011__0453

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What is dinner without a show? Well, it turns out we were to be enlightened into some of the traditional courtship dances and rituals of the ancients in Zambia.  This includes guys in masks and woman shaking parts of their bodies where most people don’t have parts.

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After such a show, both Jenny and Liezel were sufficiently star-struck to be photographed with the dancers.

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At this point, most of us were pretty bushed, and opted to head back to our respective rooms. For us that meant a beautiful midnight boat-ride on the Zambezi.

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Once we got to our cabin, not much but sheer will-power was keeping our eyes open, especially after the gentle murmur of the boat’s engine, the sway of the river and the food and wine becoming one with us.

The day after held a lot more in store, among other things, the great Victoria Falls, but more about that, next time.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Mighty Zambezi, Food & Luxury Pt. 2

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For most people I don’t need to show the rest of the facilities at the Royal Chundu Lodge.  In fact, I would’ve been quite pleased if this was it. A good book, a view over the Zambezi from my bed…, I’ll take that now, in fact. The book I was reading at the time was “A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson, and I think that qualifies as a decent enough piece of reading material. But that is not all there is.

This is a quick overview of the feelings from the guest and the things we got up to while here.

This was our humble little cabin. Like, really private. Below that you see the pic of a Zambian wood bell, that gets banged to make you aware of a steaming cup of coffee ready for you in a little hole in the wall by which your beverages gets served at the front door.Zambia2011__0178

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Zambia2011__0473As you arrive at your cabin in the evenings that very bath is drawn for you, infused with spices and all sorts of deliciousness. In the morning you lay in it, watching the velvet monkey’s eat the cumquats in the tree in front of you. Or you can open all the windows in the shower and sit on the window ledge, having a shower and looking at the trees and monkeys around you. And they’re wild, so no worries about them trying to bother you in the privy.

This is roughly the view from the shower.

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The folloiwing couple of images are just some of the main facilities at the main lodge, where we spent most of the days.

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Ok, so a rough overview of what the accommodation looks like. Back onto the ferry to the mainland we go before getting back onto the boat, a sunset cruise, and a video.

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Zambia2011__0214Aland Ford, John Maytham, Liezel van der Westhuizen and Clayton Morar shooting the breeze. Not that there was much of a breeze on the river.Zambia2011__0215

Team Giggling Gourmet chilling out for a change.Zambia2011__0217

It’s a hard life, but' it’s a sacrifice we were willing to make.

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The closest I’ve been to Zimbabwe up to that point. Later I would walk over the bridge into Zim a the the Vic Falls.Zambia2011__0223

John Maytham spots a bird, one of more that 6000 or so he has seen world-wide (that’s like Grand Master in chess), recalling the name and Latin name, regional name and meaning, nesting habits and a couple of interesting insights on Julius Malema. Those familiar with his radio show would understand.

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Birds. You can call John and as which ones they were.Zambia2011__0229

Carmen Niehaus and my wife. Birding. Zambia2011__0230Zambia2011__0238

And then the sun started to set and the G&T’s were poured.Zambia2011__0255Zambia2011__0254Zambia2011__0259Zambia2011__0261Zambia2011__0266Zambia2011__0268Zambia2011__0273Zambia2011__0277Zambia2011__0298Zambia2011__0302

Eventually we had to get back to camp.Zambia2011__0323Zambia2011__0338

These are to wipe your face as you come from the boat. Very very civilised. Almost too civilised for us.

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Eish, we’ve run out of space already, so next time we’ll be looking at dinner, night 1 and some of day 2. Watch this space.