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Modernist Cuisine: The Wok Shot

wok cutaway_1500 pixels.jpg

[Photograph: Ryan Matthew Smith] Click for a larger view.

With stunning images like this, you'd think that computers and Photoshop played a huge role in the production of the artwork from Modernist Cuisine. You'd be wrong.

The majority of the photos in the book were shot on a Canon 5D Mark II by Ryan Matthew Smith, a just-out-of-art school photographer from Seattle. The photo studio is surprisingly low-tech, given the incredible shots they achieved—it's nothing more than a few cloth backdrops, and a couple of large studio flashes

So how did they get a shot of noodles being tossed in half a wok? Easy. "We cut a wok in half and tossed noodles in it," explains Nathan Myhrvold, the man behind the 2,400 page book. The result was many messes (they lined the photo studio with plastic), a couple of fires, a few burns, and the awesome shot you see above (click on it for a larger view).

Like many of the photos in the book, these types of shots explain how traditional cooking techniques work far better than almost any instructional tool I've seen.

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