Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring is Here

Zeiss Ikonta 520/2

Il passato e il presente
Past and present

Technology is good and useful for sure and I'm really having great fun these days with my new Canon 5D mkII (that I used for the shots in the last post).

Two sundays ago, with Springtime that finally showed its warm sunny side, I took out from my photographic closet one of my oldest cameras willing to use it "on the road" again: the pre-war Zeiss Ikonta 520/2 equipped with a Novar Anastigmat 105/6.3 lens.

I did put on it a roll of Fuji Reala 100, a manual lightmeter with me, and I went out in the green fields and the flowery trees that live in a park upon the hill where I live.

The developed roll arrived to me just a couple of days ago and I must say that, even if digital photography is so convenient and practical, the sensations, mood and colors of good color film are still a world apart, especially when one likes to play with the "weak" features of an old uncoated lens and the abberrations of its triplet optical scheme, using it wide open.

It was some time since I was searching a camera and film couple able to deliver such results, especially this tonal range that looks so old fashioned but modern at the same time. A successfull experiment I dare to say.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Penne Pasta with Cauliflower

This recipe should be popular in Palermo, in Sicily. I found it in an old cooking book I bought in a flea market and, out of curiousity, I tried to cook it. Well, the result was excellent despite I'm not that great cook!

Ingredients for approximately 4 persons: 1 medium sized cauliflower, 1,3 lbs. of penne pasta, 2 ozs. of pine nuts, 2 ozs. of dried raisins, 2 ozs. anchovies paste, 1 onion, 1 clove of garlic, 1 sachet of saffron, breadcrumbs, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Preparation: boil the cauliflower let it "al dente", but keep the water where you boiled it. In the meanwhile put the dried raisins into some lukewarm water to make them softer. Fry lightly the onions and the garlic and when they'll become browned put into the pine nuts, the raisins, the anchovies paste, the saffron and the cauliflower and let cook until this one will melt in a sort of cream. Make boil then the past into some salted water to which you add some of the water used to boil the cauliflower. Strain the pasta when it'll be cooked well "al dente", put it into a baking tin, dress it with the cauliflower sauce and sprinke it with beadcrumbs, previously browned in some oil.
Put the tin into the oven until the pasta will be well cooked "au gratin".

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chestnut Dumplings with Bacon and Sage

The post of this week is about cooking again with a simple but "unexpected" recipe which uses traditional ingredients of my region.

Ingredients for approximately 4 persons: 2.2 lbs of potatoes, 0.5 lb of chestnut flour, 0.4 lb of bacon, a twig of sage, ditch's cheese, butter, salt.

Preparation: boil the potatoes, peel them, and mix them together with the chestnut flour to produce a homogeneous dough. Shape then the dumplings rolling up small pieces of the dough upon a fork. Make them boil in salted water and when they'll come to the surface take them out with a skimmer.
In the meanwhile fry lightly the bacon, cut in small pieces, and the sage with some butter. When the bacon will start to brown, add the dumplings and let them get some flavour for a couple of minutes. Serve the dumplings sprinkled with grated ditch's cheese and some fresh sage leaves.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Backstage - Tomato Killing

The set

This post also isn't about food but photography instead, even if the subject is about the most traditional ingredient of the italian gastronomy: the tomato.

I thought for some time about shooting this subject avoiding the traditionl sets like the kitchen or the food market, I had also the idea to exalt its deep red color, so I decided to use just completely white props in preparing a scene that looked like a "horror" style parody.

A detail about whom I'm not very confindent still is the knife: I wanted it full white so not to have any color beside the ones of the tomato, on the other side plastic knives are pretty ugly. All in all I think it works well to take out any seriousness from the tomato "killing".

After prepared the set I had to decide the lightning. I needed a very diffuse light because there shouldn't be any strong shadows on the whites, but still it had to be directional so to avoid flat rendering of the scene. I placede then a softbox behind, tilted down about 30 degrees, so to create the reflex on the tomato sauce and showing its texture. Another softbox at the left of the camera was needed to give tridimensionality to the tomato and the ceramic pots.

La macchina con il Flektogon inclinato verso il basso
The camera with the Flektogon tilted down

Another problema was the depth of field. I wanted a very extended DOF, from the start to the end of the scene, and it was very hard to achieve it with a 35mm camera without using a wide lens, with the related problems of perspective distortion.

I used then a tilt adapter for my Nikon with a Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 65/2.8 for Pentacon Six mounted on it, a nicely sharp lens. Tilting the adapter down toward the table plane and closing the aperture to f16 I managed to get the DOF I needed.

L'immagine finale
The final image

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