Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Mmmmmmmmmmmm.... nachos. Nachos used to be a staple for me before I got married. Nachos, beer and a bad sci-fi movie: the perfect recipe for a perfect evening.


Now that I'm married, I don't get to watch too many bad sci-fi movies. But every once and a while we do make nachos (not often enough).

I tried playing with the lighting on this shoot, using some gels I had just got. It isn't the most successful shoot I've done, but I need to get out of the rut I've been in and start experimenting!

The Food (Jhan)

I admit that we don't have Nachos too often and I know that Tony would probably eat them night after night if it wasn't for his pesky wife always worrying about his cholesterol or something silly like that. I love Nachos too, but I don't think they're particularly healthy, so I rarely make them.

When I do make nachos I usually make them with ground turkey or shredded roasted chicken instead of ground beef - that lightens them up a bit. I also add a lot of fresh veggies and herbs to the meat mix - green onion, chopped tomatoes, handfuls of chopped cilantro, peppers, etc. The added veggies cut down on the need for a lot of cheese.

And while I'm always thinking about cutting calories out of a dish, I'm also rather addicted to guacamole so I can't have Nachos without guacamole (and don't forget the sour cream!). I guess everything's a trade off.

I thought that Tony did a great job of styling these nachos. Even though I knew that they would be delicious no matter how they looked, he made them look very appealing.


The Plating

Normally when you make nachos you just toss some chips on a plate, pile with cheese, olives and salsa and then repeat as many times as you want. Unfortunately, in a purely visual sense, that's not necessarily very appealing. A plate of nachos can tend to look a bit 'pre-digested', if you get my drift.

So for this dish, I actually spent a fair amount of time trying to make the nachos look appealing. I started by going through the bag of chips chip by chip, anally selecting only perfectly whole and unbroken chips for the plate. Then I carefully arranged each chip to make two perfect rings upon which I carefully spooned out meat and salsa. I sprinkled cheese on top of that and individually placed each olive. A sprinkle of cilantro, and voila! - it looked just as messy as if I had just tossed everything on the plate. Oh well. I tried!


The Lighting and Photography

Nachos Lighting
The day we made nachos was also the day I received my Rosco Strobist gel set (cool!) and figured I'd give them a shot right away.

I decided to go with a 23 orange filter to create a strong colored background. I put the filter on my 420EX, which I set on an overturned trashcan under the table I pointed it at the backdrop and hoped for the best.

The key and main fills were to the left and right of the dish, shot through reflectors. They both needed flags to prevent their white light from spilling onto the geled backdrop.

Overall, this worked OK, but only OK. I certainly got a colored background, but I'm not sure that orange was the best color. Also, I had a hard time getting the white balance on the images right when I converted the RAW files, and I was never really happy with the color of the food.


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