Human eyes work only so quickly, which is why this chapter is dedicated to photos that capture the beautiful and important things we normally can’t see. A phenomenon that appears instantaneous to the naked eye actually contains complexities that are only revealed when the motion is slowed to a hundredth or thousandth of its normal pace
The scale of photography can extend from large-scale aerial images all the way down to the microscopic. It can make us look at things differently depending on how big they are and what other clues are given to estimate size. This chapter is devoted to the scope of the images and features photos that run the gamut from large landscapes to things that can only be seen under a microscope.
The way information is presented is just as important as the quality of the information itself. The photos in this chapter carry a pedagogical burden; annotated cutaways, for example, explain the parts and principles at work in a cooking or baking situation. Levitating photos, which show a breakdown of a dish’s components, convey technical and scientific concepts in a way that’s accessible.
A sense of wonder and curiosity about food permeates the photography in the Modernist Cuisine books. The creative, playful photos in this chapter break the mold of typical food photography. Sometimes this means making a condiment cannon to shoot ketchup onto french fries, breaking a few wineglasses, or fencing with a pair of stale baguettes.
Often, food photography is meant to evoke a memory or feeling. But other types of food photography document something akin to a still life, which is highlighted in this chapter. Some of the still-life photos are contemporary and aspirational, while other, more classic scenes tell a story.
The photos found in this chapter force you to look at an individual piece of food in all its uniqueness. By reducing the scene to focus only on that food in some interesting way, you emphasize it; you see it as something unique and interesting that demands your attention. These images are not trying to evoke a set piece in a kitchen; rather, they are portraits of a piece of food. Portraiture is worshipping that thing as an object, as a thing unto itself.