There is a little bit of a back story to this post. The back story revolves around the plated shot and the arrival of winter. Having been in France in the holliers earlier in the year, I decided that I should do something with duck. The duck we get in Ireland is very different to the delicious, fatty, plump birds one encounters in La Belle F. However, I was not going to be put off by that. Nor was I going to be put off by the second class apricots we get here on this rain sodden outpost. No, I was going to do a great job with reasonably good ingredients. In fairness the duck here is very good, just not as great as that available over there. The apricots though, needed a bit of help. However, I digress….
I will run through the recipe quickly. Principally because I want you to feel the pressure I feel as we move into Winter every year. The pressure of the fading light.
Photo observation 1. My initial shot of the ingredients (above) was taken mid afternoon. Plenty of light, nice soft shadows and good depth of colour. I hope you agree.
Ingredients for duck with apricot and ginger sauce:
- 2 duck breasts
- 12 nice plump apricots (if you can get them)
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2cm of ginger, chopped roughly
- A couple of teaspoons of sugar
- Salt and pepper to season
Slice through the skin and fat of the duck breasts and season them well with salt and black pepper.
Photo observation 2: Despite the duck breast being a pretty featureless thing, I managed a nice enough “slice of life” photo. “Slice of duck fat” in fact. Sill plenty of light.
Next stone the apricots and lay them out artistically.
Photo observation 3: The light is still good on the sliced apricots. But, the angle is getting pretty low. I need to hurry!
Slice the ginger and add it, along with the lemon juice and apricots, to a saucepan. Sprinkle in the sugar.
Photo observation 4: Enough light to capture the sprinkling sugar reasonably well. However, I had to ramp up the ISO (A very technical term, particularly for me).
Bring this to a boil and simmer until the apricots are reduced to a quivering mess. Just like I’ll be if I don’t get on with this.
Photo observation 5: We have a roof window just over the cooker. Hence the lovely, natural light in the saucepan in this shot.
Let the apricot mess cool a bit and then put it in a blender. Give it a whizz until it turns to a nice purée.
Photo observation 6: This is beginning to feel like a western. The blender casts a long shadow.
Heat a frying pan to medium and place the duck breasts, fat side down, in the pan. No oil needed.
Photo observation 7: It’s that roof window giving the extra bit of natural light. However, it’s back to the island unit for the next shot…
When the duck is nicely browned on the skin side, flip it over and give it another couple of minutes. These breasts are not big enough to need finishing in the oven.
Photo observation 8: More ISO than you can shake a memory stick at and there still is lots of long shadow. I should have taken the lights out. (I didn’t) I should have used the reflector. (I did).
Another case of fretting about the cooking led to the duck being a bit better done than I would like it. Plate up the dish and serve on some artistic looking beans with two big potatoes hidden well outside the shot.
Final photo observation: Bugger it all to hell in a hand-basket! If I just had a little more natural light, this might have been a decent photo. I might have plated it better. I might not have had to focus on a quarter of the plate. I might not….. Story of my photographic life.
To finish on a positive note, the apricot and ginger sauce was delish. There was loads left over and it was excellent on my muesli the next morning and on some ice cream that night. It was a dark night. No light, certainly not enough to take a decent photo…