Photography and cookery

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Roger Hicks, Jul 2, 2006.

  1. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    I though of putting this in the lounge but it seemed more philosopical.

    Photography seems to me to be uncommonly like cookery, and indeed, some of the ingredients are the same.

    In both cases, too, it's the result that matters: how you get there is distinctly secondary.

    Third, both are a state of mind rather than a matter of precisely following recipes: we've all met cooks who do everything by the book but whose meals are never inspired.

    How many other photographers are also enthusiastic cooks? And for those who are, where do they get their ideas? I've just started posting recipes in my blog on www.rogerandfrances.com, with brief notes on where they came from. Frances and I have done a few cook-books but now it's mainly a hobby.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  2. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Absolutely untrue. I will cook a three course meal from basic, fresh ingredients while you microwave a TV dinner. Tell me which end result you prefer.
     
  3. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Eh?

    What is 'absolutely untrue?'

    If the food is good, it's good. How did TV dinners get into it?

    And what can you cook that fast? Admittedly I don't know how long it takes to microwave a TV dinner, but I'd be surprised if it were more than 10 minutes. Three courses at three minutes each? I'd be surprised.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  4. eumenius

    eumenius Member

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    Oh yes, and I always called biochemistry a dead end evolutionary branch - see, we take meat, sometimes put it through grinder, salt it, even place everything in fridge... the only thing we don't do is eating our end result :smile: I think that those photographers who are good in lab should also be good cooks :smile:

    Cheers, Zhenya
     
  5. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Reply from Frances:

    Fascinating! When are you going to post the recipes?

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  6. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I am not. They were taught to me by my mother, I shall teach them to my kids.

    Although why you would want the recipes is beyond me, you have stated that the final result is more important than how you get there. So surely you will be happy with a microwave and whatever frozen processed ready meal rubbish you can find? You will have a meal at the end of the process.
     
  7. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    i am lost, how did we get to "who likes to cook" to microwave and frozen foods?

    I loved to cook and to entertain my friends over an evening of food and talk.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2006
  8. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Roger said: "it's the result that matters: how you get there is distinctly secondary"

    I said this is untrue. You can use good fresh ingredients and make a meal from scratch, the end result will be vastly superior to a meal made using frozen, processed garbage and a microwave.

    The statement that 'how you get there is secondary' is patently untrue.
     
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    I don't know if Andy is deliberately misunderstanding this or not. I can only assume that he must be.

    "The end result" is good food. This could be almost any ingredients; it could be cooked over an open fire; or baked in an oven; or steamed; or shallow- or deep-fried; or stewed or cooked in many other ways.

    It can be in the classical French style, the Szechuan style, the Mexican style, the Mediterranean style and (once again) more: all are a state of mind and a collection of ingredients, not a recipe.

    You can cook it for five minutes or five hours; you can add garlic or not; the variations are endless. And what matters is the end result: how you get there is secondary. In fact, even a microwave has its place: a superb means of cooking crispy bacon.

    Likewise in photography, the end result is a good picture. It doesn't matter whether you use Tri-X or HP5, or make enlargements or contact prints or use alternative processes. Good photographers make good pictures the same way good cooks make good meals, and it always goes beyond following recipes blindly.

    As for Andy's refusal to share these recipes, perhaps we are suffering no great loss if they have made him the fine figure of a man that appears under his signature. Note to the slow of thinking: THAT IS A JOKE.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  10. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Ann,

    You think YOU'RE lost? How do you think I feel? I am completely nonplussed at Andy's reading of this, which is about as far from my intention as can be imagined.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  11. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I love to cook. What is a recipe?
     
  12. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    I have lots of recipes for "finger foods", and I won't share them because they are digital. :D
     
  13. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    So you think the end result would be good food if you used a microwave and poor ingredients? I don't think it is me being deliberately misunderstanding here. I will spell it out for the obtuse:

    You... will... not... get... good... food... if... you... rush... the... process... and... take... shortcuts... , therefore... the... process... is... as... important... as... the... end... result...


    Did I write that slow enough for you to read Roger?*



    *for the deliberately obtuse, this too is a joke.
     
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  15. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Claire,

    Developing for 33 minutes and 32 seconds in Rodinal at 1+86, used at 72.5 degrees F with agitation every 114 seconds. NO OTHER APPROACH WILL EVER WORK.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  16. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Where on earth did I say this?

    No, you can't get good food with poor ingredients -- unless you're a really brilliant cook -- and there are a lot of things you can't cook with a microwave (and a few, such as bacon, that you can). What relevance has this to what I have written?

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  17. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member

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    And a nice bottle of wine!

    In fact, we are having company tonight! Better crack open the cookbooks!! And dinner at this time of year is at dusk, so maybe I'll make some portraits as well as a nice meal!
     
  18. Earl Dunbar

    Earl Dunbar Member

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    There's the rub. (Well, I suspect that depending on the dish, Andy may be using a very nice dry rub, which I doubt is included in the TV dinner.)

    So, one important issue is that one's definition of "good" ... a good meal, in this case. To me, it's pretty clear that folks who live on processed and fast food (crap in my book), may think the TV dinner is "good". Andy and I (and I suspect Roger and Frances, too) vastly prefer a meal prepared from better ingredients, by hand, with care, etc.

    I suspect Roger has sort of assumed quality materials/tools (e.g., a camera/lens that is of high quality, film or sensor that is of good quality, accurate shutter and aperture control, etc.), of which there are lots of choices. I don't think Roger means an old 110 camera with horrible plastic lens and long-outdated C22 film can produce a superb photo for double gate spread in National Geographic, especially when compared to a Leica with Kodachrome 25. Granted the former could produce interesting results in the hands of a skilled photogrpher, but again the key issue is the definition of "good" for the result intended.

    What Andy has done is take Roger's statement "In both cases, too, it's the result that matters: how you get there is distinctly secondary" and pointed out that the analogy doesn't hold to the nth degree, which is the case for all analogies.

    I think Roger's central point is in his statement "Third, both are a state of mind rather than a matter of precisely following recipes: we've all met cooks who do everything by the book but whose meals are never inspired."

    IOW, give two people the same ingredients and a recipe, and the resulting meals can be quite different ... from disastrous to devine.

    FWIW, I agree with both of you.
     
  19. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    That's about it -- though if you CAN produce a good picture with a nasty camera, once again, no-one cares about how you got it. What I was taking for granted was a higher degree of consensus about what's worth eating; it never occured to me that anyone would include TV dinners in this category.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  20. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I love to cook when there is someone else to enjoy the result, and do it reasonably well. Living alone, I take a lot of shortcuts when cooking for just myself, especially with lots of good restaurants within walking distance. (One of the things I really miss from living in Manhattan many years ago is having a grocer's with good fresh vegetables down the street - it made it so much easier to pick up dinner ingredients on the way home.) Frankly there is some link to my approach to photography - which I also enjoy more with some positive feedback. And I am pretty sloppy with recipes in both, though more so in cooking.

    The microwave, to me, is like d*** photography. It does some things very well -bacon, as Roger mentioned, and steamed vegetables. It can also be a shortcut to adequate results with less set up and break down time.
     
  21. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    I like to cook, but I'm not so good at following directions. I will look at a recipe to get the basic idea, sometimes even going so far as to follow it, at least the first time. After that I generally will cook by doing what feels right at the moment-a little more of this, a little less of that, although the basic techniques and ideas stay the same.

    This is a lot how I photograph; more by feel and emotion than intellect. I find that if I think too much my photos and food both suffer. I would rather do what seems correct at the time and critique it later which always helps the next attempt. This of course can only be done if one has an understanding of the necessary processes and techniques. I personally prefer a saute pan or a wok, give me a big flame and I'm happy. To make photos I do best with LF, B&W, and fiber base paper. I'm a simple person, it doesn't take too much to keep me going.

    As for recipe ideas, I find them everywhere, cookbooks, magazines, friends, restaraunts...

    Richard Waasserman
     
  22. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    I love marindaing meat in my secret marinade for 2 days and slow cooking it on charcoal
     
  23. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    Hello Roger (and Frances),

    Almost had me lost there with the replies from Andy. I took the original to mean the tools used for cooking or preparing a meal, not the ingredients. However, I think Andy brought in an important point that one should not take ingredients for granted. With that in mind, the ingredients (food) would be like the film, and the cooking utensils would be like the camera. It is not expensive to buy really high quality fresh ingredients, whether that is film or food items. Unfortunately, the best of cooking utensils, and the best of cameras are not within the financial means of all enthusiasts.

    Most of the people in my family were very good cooks, and even my dad briefly worked at a five star restaurant as a chef (though not running the place). We also had an interesting rule when I was growing up that whomever did the cooking did not have to do the dishes . . . I hated cleaning dishes. So one way or another I learned how to make nearly any food dish. I am now at the point that I can eat something at a restaurant, and understand how to make it from scratch.

    My photography is not at that intuitive level, since I cannot just pick up any camera and instantly get the best from it. While there is some commonality of camera settings and controls, I feel like some of the newer designs work against my ways of taking photos. While I can make do with just about any kitchen utensils, I find that I am better with more specific types of camera controls (one example would be command dials on modern SLRs, something I never like using).

    I think an interest in certain things outside photography can help when working as a photographer. It would be tougher for me to photograph a scene or subject that I am little interested in, than for me to photograph something closer to my interests. Examples besides food would be architecture, automotive, musicians, dancers, and urban life. I find that I do better photography when I am more interested in what I am photographing.

    Ciao!

    Gordon
     
  24. bob01721

    bob01721 Member

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    Photography seems to me to be uncommonly like music, and indeed, some of the ingredients are the same... both are a state of mind rather than a matter of precisely following a score: we've all heard musicians who do everything as notated on the staff but whose performances are never inspired.
    ----------------------------
    Photography seems to me to be uncommonly like writing prose, and indeed, some of the ingredients are the same... both are a state of mind rather than a matter of precisely following an outline: we've all read writers who use perfect grammar and syntax but whose stories are never inspired.
    ----------------------------
    Photography seems to me to be uncommonly like dancing, and indeed, some of the steps are the same... both are a state of mind rather than a matter of precisely following the choreography: we've all seen dancers who execute every movement flawlessly but whose performances are never inspired.

    ----------------------------
    It's not limited to cooking. Your analogy holds wherever there is a technical underpinning for creative expression.
     
  25. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Another enthusiastic cook here.

    Part of the appeal of albumen printing is figuring out what to do with all the egg yolks. Most go into ensaimadas, but some make it into ice cream, breads, hollandaise sauce and such like. I've kept the albumen stage of the process non-toxic (egg whites, sea salt, and distilled white vinegar), so I can do it with kitchen utensils.
     
  26. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Little did you know, Roger, how controversial these remarks would prove to be. Rabble-rousing again, eh?

    I am ceaselessly amazed at the human capacity to argue over, bicker about, and be offended by the most trivial of things.

    And speaking of food, one gets the impression that Roger at some point must have Pissed in Andy's Cornflakes.

    I am sure someone would dissent if I claimed that the sun generally rises in the east or that the earth is not flat.

    Argument for argument's sake is tedious. I think some here need to get out more often (probably includes me as well.)