In part one of Brent’s radish saga we heard about his journey to the Melbourne markets to source the perfect radish for The Food Book cover. In this second installation, Brent updates us on what happened back at the studio.

Is this the final cover? Or does the radish hunt continue?...

In Shakespeare’s Richard III, the king cried out, ‘my kingdom for a horse’. Well, I was willing to swap my kingdom for a radish. I had gone well out of my way to find a radish to play the starring role on a bamboo cutting board for the cover of The Food Book. And I would have kindly swapped my kingdom to end the search for one perfect radish!

The designer of The Food Book – Regine Abos – had provided me with the basic ‘look’ she wanted. This was my reference point—a picture, taken on the lunchroom table at Oxford University Press, of better looking radishes than those I had found after searching Victoria Market, Footscray Market, my local fruit shop and a Coles supermarket.

I had sent in my first round of shots and the radishes just weren’t up to scratch. But we needed a cover, and it had to perfect. Simple as that. So I went out searching yet again, and came home with no less than fifteen new bunches of radishes! 

Brent getting up-close-and-personal with a radish

So I took my new radishes and I placed four suitably sized examples onto a suitably sized cutting board. With a quick lens change to a 140mm macro, I squeezed off a few frames to see if the scale of the radishes seemed okay with the striped cutting board. (The good thing about shooting digital is that I can see how my image fits into the layout.) Phew! It worked and I had a few extra centimetres for the designer to play with. Anyway, so far, so good! The other nice thing about that day was the natural light – it was looking beautiful and with a bit of fill from the side with a white reflector, I softened the shadows a little. Perfect. I arranged and rearranged the best specimens from a big bunch of radishes like chess pieces. There was something nice and charming about the image.

A few more frames later, everything was starting to come together and all the hard work was looking worth it. But the radishes were looking a bit dull and lifeless, in spite of how much water I sprayed on them. They just looked a bit grubby. I went to the reserved bunch of radishes and started a trial-and-error method of cleaning until I arrived at the method of soaking the radishes in cold water, drying them off with clean kitchen towel and then ‘polishing’ them with melted butter and more paper towel.
Aha! The front cover radish shone like a cricket ball on the first day of the Boxing Day Test. A few more transplanted leaves donated from the remaining radishes, a few more tweaks of angle and adjustments of the reflectors and I had my final frame. The file was named FoodBookCover_Final.tiff and the cover was complete. I emailed it to the publisher at Oxford. Perfect! Or was it?

To be continued…

The studio floor after a long day of radish shooting