Photogenic fruit
June 29, 2011

Last night I tried something new: food photography. Most times, I prefer eating the food immediately instead of hovering over it and letting it cool while I photograph. It was late at night, as so, I was unmotivated to cook up something and similarly unwilling to eat another meal. As I walked about the kitchen, an interesting fruit caught my attention with its distinct and pungent aroma. Sitting on the counter for a few days already was a quarter of a jackfruit, also known as nangka, depending on where you come from.

For those of you who know, have seen, enjoy or do not enjoy eating this fruit, you may need no background on the puzzling looking food. A background, nonetheless, will be provided for those who do not commonly come across it. The fruit is recognizable from the outside for a number of reasons: the dark green skin, its spikes, overwhelming mass and sweet scent. Basically, it is like a large durian, except less smelly and with more moderated spikes. My interest in the fruit is not for its appearance as much as it is for its taste. Inside the spiky rind sits the smooth and yellow bulb-shaped flesh. Unlike the durian, these edible sections are firm and hold their shape more effectively. Each section holds a seed, that at a glance looks like a smooth brownish-gray pebble.

The process of opening the fruit is a bit slow due to the viscous sap that blunts the knife and glues fingers together after a few minutes. Once inside the rind, cross-sectional cuts reveal the array of edible parts among less edible white fibers.

Although highly interested in consuming the fruit, I also had planned on photographing it. It dawned on me that taking a picture of it would not be difficult, but making the food seem appealing or edible to others may be the challenge. Color, the first consideration, was adjusted via white-card adjustment. Shininess also seemed to be an appealing factor, and was adjusted through re-positioning the plate. One aspect I did not adjust was the lighting. With only an overhead lamp, the shadows cast on the object were slightly darker than I had predicted, but then again, shadows cast away from me via flash might make the scene seem unrealistic.

The end result is shown here in the picture. Firstly, it looks more like shumai, which might actually help with the appeal. Secondly, it would have been nicer to use the diffused gloomy lighting from earlier in the day to balance the shadows seen here. Thirdly, I'm not sure this picture is convincing. It would be biased for me to point of that I would definitely eat it, simply because I did actually eat these three and many more.