The Blog of Chris Bohnhoff Photography

Early this Spring I had the chance to photograph author Jan Dunlap for Guideposts Magazine. Jan had just released a memoir, Saving Gracie, about her relationship with Gracie, her black lab rescue dog, and the healing powers of the human/dog bond.

Dogs, like people, have different relationships with the camera. Also like people, I’m guessing the vast majority of dogs have… limited… patience in reserve for photographers. Gracie in particular was a bit notorious for actively foiling the best efforts to take a good photo of her.

But Gracie and I got along pretty well, given the circumstances. She protested only mildly when my assistant and I invaded her living room and rearranged the place. She tolerated just enough strobe light pops to get a good range of options for the magazine. And she didn’t run too far away during our time at the dog park.

A good dog, that Gracie. I can see why Jan wrote a book about her.

One of the best things to come out of my time collaborating at Heartland Restaurant has been my friendship with Chef Alan Bergo. Currently a sous chef at Heartland, it was Alan who prepared and styled the dishes we photographed. But, lucky for us all, Alan also runs a beautiful, entertaining and useful blog called Forager Chef. Over the past months I’ve consulted with him on his photography (read: hung out while he shot some stuff, offered a few opinions, then helped him eat his subjects), and a couple weeks ago he was kind enough to join me on a shoot foraging and cooking in the woods.

I’ve never been a person with strong feelings about mushrooms, but I feel like that’s changing after my weekend with Alan. There’s something undeniably magical about walking down a wooded trail and having your hiking partner pull up short, brush aside some dried leaves and uncover these sprigs of food, in sweet scents and vibrant earth tones (that’s right: vibrant earth tones!). There’s a vast well of knowledge and experience needed to forage wild food the way Alan does, but after just a short hike with Alan I understand the allure.

Not only did we forage, we cooked. Well, Alan cooked. He cooked big pans of foraged chanterelles, red potatoes with wild bergamot butter, duck leg in a black raspberry and wild szechuan peppercorn reduction. It was glorious, all the more because so many of the ingredients had been gathered within a few hundred yards of our campsite.

Cooking and eating in this way connects you to a place in an active way that not even a CSA can touch. If you live in the Midwest and want to expand your flavor palette with things growing in the nearest patch of woods, check out Alan’s work over at Forager Chef.

A New Notebook

If you’ve visited my blog in the past, you may notice that things look a little different around here. And if this is your first time, you may notice a few very recent things here, then a jump to old stuff. Thus, a very brief note to get us all on the same page.

Old blog: technical challenges, versions, plugins, hackability, blah blah.

New blog: (mostly) blank slate, purported simplicity.

So there you go. A jump has been made, and I’m glad you found me! Please like, follow, do what you gotta do to stick around.

A couple weeks back I headed over to Wisconsin to visit my friend Wade Barry at Piney Hill Farm, a new CSA that Wade runs with Heidi Coe and Karl Sloth.

It’s a beautiful place with a stunning red barn, and a high tunnel almost impassable at this point in the season with hopped up peppers and tomatoes.

August on the farm feels to me a lot like stepping into a mosh pit. All the work of planning, planting, cultivating has been done,  now it’s time to move fast or risk being crushed by the biomass. Everyone has their adrenaline rush, and August, with its cucumbers, beans and tomatoes are for farmers.

But August doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and there are always processes to be improved, new plots to prepare, new crops to ponder. So it is at Piney Hill, being in their first season as they are. It’s an exciting, creative energy that Wade, Heidi and Karl occupy, and I’ll admit I’m more than a little jealous.

Thanks, Piney Hill, for letting me wander around you for an afternoon.

In the Woods with Forager Chef: Video Profile

One of the great things about taking on personal projects is that you can push yourself outside your comfort zone a bit with less stress than there would be on a paying gig. Under normal professional world circumstances, shooting still and moving images can be a mountain of stress. Given the right pre-production (and budget), it’s totally doable, but it involves some mental gymnastics moving between the two formats. Lighting, composition, audio considerations, relating to your subject… it can be daunting. Unless you’re calling all the shots and you’re OK with things happening organically, which I most definitely am.

We went out with a loose plan: to forage for a while in the afternoon, cook for stills in the evening, then cook for motion in the morning. As it turned out, the sky clouded over early in the evening and never really let up. I had hoped to shoot more human interaction lifestyle-y shots of the cooking, but it didn’t pan out.

Fortunately, the morning was perfect, as was the weather for our time foraging the prior afternoon. I’m happy with the stills I came home with, but I’m especially happy with how this motion piece turned out. Audio in particular can be a real challenge, but the ambient sounds of the woods and the cooking pair together, I think, in a really pleasing way. I hope you like it.

Little known fact: the origin of #elmo ‘s #redness

Little known fact: the origin of #elmo ‘s #redness