Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup

by Bethany Plonski January. 30, 2019 305 views

I struggle to focus on more than one thing at a time when I work on any kind of project, so I’m starting to think the best way to practice with food is to have one simple goal for each shoot. Hopefully all those little lessons will start to add up into more skill over time. Plus, the disappointments I feel at the end of each session can give me direction on where to go next.

After screwing up my last attempt with soup pretty royally, I decided this time I was going to work on lighting. I wanted to test out some small spot lights, and after about 30 really ugly photos, I learned enough to make some progress controlling those.

I found that I liked the spot lights better when the rest of the room was completely dark. They also came with warm and cool light filters, and I liked the warm ones a lot better.

Next time I want to think more about plating and setting. These are pretty minimal.

I’m still getting a feel for what I want my style to be, and there are so many things I don’t know. Like how much clarity and depth is appropriate in food photos. Or how the heck people have the foresight to amass entire collections of bowls and plates and tabletop decor to create a setting or feeling that suits each different subject.

Anyway, that’s a little about what I’m learning, and of course I’m happy to hear any feedback or tips you might have!

Here's the recipe. I always wing things a little bit, so I estimated the best I could.

1 cup wild rice

2 cartons Imagine "No Chicken" vegetable broth

1 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced

4-5 large carrots, cut into coins

4-5 stalks celery, cut into coins

1 large onion

salt and pepper to taste.

Saute the onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil first (in the pot you'll use for the soup). Once they soften, add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the rice and simmer about 45 minutes (or according to directions for the type you're using). While the rice is cooking, saute the mushrooms in a separate skillet and then add them to the rest of the soup once the rice has cooked.

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There are 21 comments , add yours!
Ho Kim 1 year ago

I love mushroom and it looks yummy. It's such a pity that I cannot taste it but can imagine...  I scarcely have any idea on the indoor still life photography but you may need more than two light sources to make it look lively. One soft box (or bouncing light from the ceiling) and one spot light may work for you but I love your three pictures as they are. They look kind of plain but look very healthy, giving me a feeling that they came from the farmers not from industrial plants. smile

1 year ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Ho Kim 1 year ago

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I have a lot to learn, especially with lighting, but I am happy to hear the photos look healthy and appetizing. That is important to me. Many thanks!

1 year ago Edited
Jay Boggess 1 year ago

#3 does it for me! Love the colors, composition & lighting! Looks very appealing! Yum!

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

Thanks, Jay! Much appreciated. smile That one was my favorite one too.

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


1 year ago Edited
Camellia Staab 1 year ago

I really like what you have captured and I really would like to see the recipe as well. Looks delicious! 😊

1 year ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Camellia Staab 1 year ago

Thanks, Camellia! I just updated the post to include the recipe. I've tried this with a few different kinds of broth, but the one I linked in the recipe goes really well with the flavor of the mushrooms.

1 year ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year ago

Thank you Bethany for sharing your recipe. Most Sundays around here are soup and bread nights, all homemade. While I have a few soups in my repertoire, there are times that I look for something new and your soup seemed the right one to add to the repertoire smile

1 year ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Camellia Staab 1 year ago

How funny! In winter, Sunday is always our soup day too. We usually make a big batch so we can have easy dinners the first few nights of the week. Glad to share the recipe! smile Hope you enjoy it.

1 year ago Edited
Pete Fitzgetald 1 year ago

I think you did a great job, between you and Russel Smith I am always hungry, the 2 of you do great job on food photography, something I myself need to work on.

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

Thank you, Pete, that is such a nice compliment. I love Russell's photos and learn a lot from seeing what he's up to. Always looks delicious!

1 year ago Edited
Sherry Hill 1 year ago

these are great, no glare, rustic wood surface, the colours of the soup pop.. never mind that the soup looks delicious..

1 year ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Sherry Hill 1 year ago

Thank you, Sherry! I always feel like it's a win when I can get rid of the glare. smile  And it's such a yummy soup. We make it at least once a month while it's cold.

1 year ago Edited
Can G 1 year ago

Nom nom, the soup makes me hungry. I like them all three pictures, the presentation of the soup is well done and the slice of roasted bread in #2 certainly adds some more nice detail to it (and imho, is the most mouth watering of the 3 pics). Some quick thoughts: I had wished for some more depth of field, i.e. have the complete bowl in focus. And you have such a wonderful structured wooden table, maybe it could also be more included in the presentation along with a spoon and a napkin. Also, I find the "rill" (or notch, or however you call it) in #2 and #3 a little distracting.

Gosh, I'm hungry now... smile

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

Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback! I appreciate that so much and totally agree on #3. That was one of the last ones I took, and when I started looking at larger versions of the photo I really wished I’d taken more time to get the entire bowl in focus (of course, my stomach had other ideas!). It’s funny you mention napkins too, because I have been thinking those would be a nice touch, but we usually only have paper ones in the house. When I've looked for them in the stores, I haven't had much luck finding nice cloth ones yet. Anyway, many thanks for your comments!

1 year ago Edited
Antonio Gil 1 year ago

My favorite one is last one.

1 year ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Antonio Gil 1 year ago

Thank you, I am partial to that one too. smile I always lean toward close-ups.

1 year ago Edited
Björn Roose 1 year ago

#1 came out best, although #2 is a good runner up. I'd say: don't put your subject too much in the middle (the slice of bread nicely compensated for that in #2). And about the spot light and darkness: perfect. That's what I do too, except of course that I, because I like big contrasts, use a black surface under the subject (for real food photography, a table is certainly more fit).

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

Thank you, it’s really helpful to hear how other people think about composition. I've been struggling with this 50 mm lens in small spaces, it can be hard to get a wider view to better position the subject. I wanted more dark space framing the whole image in #1 and #2 but it was pretty much impossible where I was working. Thinking about trying a 35 mm prime. Nikon has a pretty nice one for cheap.

1 year ago Edited
Lynn F Medley 1 year ago

I think you are doing great! The soup looks so good 😐

1 year ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Lynn F Medley 1 year ago

Thank you, Lynn! I love this soup, we make it all the time during winter.

1 year ago Edited
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