Chili with Sweet Potato, Black Beans & Quinoa

by Bethany Plonski January. 14, 2019 349 views
Diffused LED lighting only

Diffused LED lighting only

This weekend was cold and rainy, so it was perfect weather for crockpot chili and a movie marathon. While we didn't get as far as planned with the movie marathon, the chili was delicious and I got a chance to practice with indoor lighting.

Food photography is hard! For one thing, it's full of a completely different kind of failure than missing a nice shot of a bird. There are an incredible amount of details and artistic choices to consider, and you're responsible for all of them. Every time I practice, I walk away with all these mental notes of what I need to do differently next time.

Some things I learned this time: I need to plan ahead a little more and think through the composition and layout on a more detailed level beforehand. And I may need to consider a slightly wider lens or a larger workspace to give myself more flexibility in how I can arrange things. Also, utensils. Duh!

Natural and diffused LED light

Natural and diffused LED light

Almost the same setting as above but +2 EV

Almost the same setting as above but +2 EV

If you want to try the recipe, here's what you need:

2 sweet potatoes, diced

1 sweet onion, diced

2 poblano peppers, diced

3 red chili peppers, diced

1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 15 oz. cans chili-spiced diced tomato

3 tbsp tomato paste

6 cups vegetable stock

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup quinoa

Cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, paprika, coriander, and salt and pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients in the crockpot and let simmer for about 4 hours or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

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There are 18 comments , add yours!
Can G 1 year, 1 month ago

I can feel you there. Having tried food photography myself, I know how hard it is to get things right, especially with arranging things and having a nice background to make everything looks like a delicious dinner table you would like to sit at. I never managed to get this right so far, so I'm pretty in awe by your work.

I also find it pretty hard to take food shots when they were just made and are ready to be eaten. The more time you take for the pictures, the food cools down and the stomach is demanding input. How do you manage that? :)

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Can G 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you for your kind comment! I think it will be a long time before I feel anywhere near proficient at this, for sure. And it’s definitely more of a rush with hot foods - not only is it hard not to be hungry, sometimes the appearance of the food changes for the worse when it cools down. For this recipe, I knew I’d have to work fast, so I tested a few things with lighting and setup while the chili was cooking to save time. And still, I felt pretty rushed!grinning I also did two sessions, one at night and one the following day with the leftovers.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Pete Fitzgetald 1 year, 1 month ago

great colors, I love my crockpot just did corn beef and cabbage in mine and this weekend some kind of soup. Nice shots

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Pete Fitzgetald 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks! We left our crockpot at a family member’s house for a few months and just got it back, so it’s been nice using it again. Sure makes things easy!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Russell Smith 1 year, 1 month ago

Quite lovely and delicious looking. I love #1 and #2 is quite nice too. Thank you for the recipe I will have to give this a try in the near future.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Russell Smith 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you, Russell! I always find inspiration in your photos and enjoy picking up recipes and tips from your posts, so it makes me happy to hear that.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue 1 year, 1 month ago

If I wouldn't be stuffed with potatoes and trout, I would go into the kitchen and try this recipe. Appetizing photos!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you! I’m really glad to hear that. blush I am a sucker for any recipe with sweet potato!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Björn Roose 1 year, 1 month ago

#2 is definitely better than #3 (the colours are much more profound), but I like #1 best. The "decoration" there is closer, as is the whole dish, and not putting that whole dish in sight, does give it a bigger photographic quality.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Björn Roose 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks! I liked that one the best in terms of composition, but I took it at night and wish I’d taken the time to try the same shot again with natural light the next day.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Jay Boggess 1 year, 1 month ago

Nice work on the food fotos! Very artistically arranged! # 3 is a little to bright for my taste! #2 looks much more apertising to me! Recipe sounds yummy! Love the avocado and cilantro garnish, as well! Bravo!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Jay Boggess 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks, Jay! I appreciate hearing what you think about them. I agree on #3. I see that really bright lighting as a trend in a lot of recipes online but didn't really like it in this particular setup.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 1 month ago

Yeah.....the chili & avocado colors seemed a little washed out in #3, as compared to those in #2.....

ps...thanks for "liking" my early morning hometown images....

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Jay Boggess 1 year, 1 month ago

My pleasure!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Andi Saw 1 year, 1 month ago

#2
You did a great job sweetheart! blue heart

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Andi Saw 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you! Lots of trial and error, but at least there's something good to eat at the end!smile

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Heidi Egerman 1 year, 1 month ago

Really nice work. Keep it up.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Heidi Egerman 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks, Heidi! It's a good thing I enjoy cooking so much, or I don't know that I'd have the patience to stick with it. smile

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
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